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Wrap-up: Real Salt Lake 3-0 Philadelphia Union

At this point in the season, it’s cliched to say that the only thing consistent about the Philadelphia Union is inconsistency. Every game somebody seems to take a step forward while somebody else takes a step back. The only exception to this rule is Chris Seitz, who has been consistently horrid.

Taking on Real Salt Lake in the last leg of a long road trip, the Union needed big contributions from their veterans and big energy from their youth contingent. Kyle Nakazawa got his first start in the midfield while Jack McInerney slotted in next to Moreno up top. Danny Mwanga continued to hold down his spot at left bench.

The Union came out with a high pressure system and tried to push the ball up to Moreno and McInerney as fast as possible. In the first minute, Michael Orozco played a long ball to Moreno, who controlled it to Fred. The midfield playmaker tried to loft a cross into Moreno’s path as he drifted to the back post only to see the ball float over the striker’s head. A minute later Seitz was setting up a four man wall as Real’s first sustained attack ended in a 25 yard free kick from the middle of the park flashing over the bar.

Real Salt Lake were intent on attacking up the center of the pitch. Kyle Beckerman and Javy Morales got the strikers involved early and often and it was clear that RSL did not think the Union defense could handle their attackers in one-on-one situations. The Union pushed the ball wide and tried to get pressure by hitting Moreno’s feet near the top of the box. Sloppy passing and too many touches undid the Union offense as much as the RSL defense.

In the 14th, Kyle Nakazawa drove a free kick from the right wing into the box only to have Rimando punch it out. It was the first of many good deliveries from Nakazawa who falls into the “big step forward” category. On the other hand, McInerney took a step back. The teenager spent too long on the ball and couldn’t find his bearings up top. In the 16th minute, a Rimando clearance fell to McInerney who took three touches before shooting at the open goal. His shot was blocked by a recovering defender as Union fans everywhere threw up their hands and spilled their beers.

A minute later, there were calls for a red card when Williams went in high and hard on Fred. The referee may wished he had gone for the darker card upon seeing the replay. The Union were energized by the foul and five minutes later Torres collected a cross at the far post but slipped before he could shoot. By the time he recovered his space was gone and his shot blocked. Torres joins Union Jack in the “step backward” group. He still looks dangerous, but when times are tough he doesn’t have the strength to take over a game the way he wants to.

The first goal of the game came in the 26th minute. Christian Arrieta played the ball from the right wing back… to a lazy Real Salt Lake striker, who turned and headed to goal with nobody but Seitz in front of him. Michael Orozco made a great sliding tackle to stop the initial shot on goal, but the rebound fell to Kyle Beckerman who slotted it into the far corner. Beckerman celebrated alone because it would have been rude to include Arrieta in the joy, although he was certainly most responsible for it.

In the 38th, Robbie Findlay left the game with an injury. Two minutes later Beckerman received a yellow card for a hard foul on Moreno. RSL was clearly keying on Moreno and Fred as the two Union players who needed to be slowed down.

The second half was no better for Philadelphia. After ten minutes of midfield battle, Danny Califf was spared another early shower when the referee waved play on after Califf took a terrible route to the ball and sent Campos to the ground in the box. While the Union escaped the Califf error, Chris Seitz ensured they wouldn’t have to wait long for another silly mistake on defense. A free kick from the left spun towards Seitz feet. He fumbled it and palmed the ball straight into Jamison Olave’s path. The RSL striker didn’t have any choice but to score. In fairness to Seitz, the free kick only made it to him because Roger Torres made a great show of ducking away from the ball while in the two-man wall. Hey Roger, meet me at camera three: Listen bucko. You’re the shortest guy in MLS. If someone puts a free kick low enough to hit your body, you just have to take it. Believe me when I say it won’t happen often.

Danny Mwanga replaced Jack McInerney in the 58th and immediately began wearing the invisibility cloak he snuck onto the field in his underwear. You won’t read his name in the rest of this wrap-up.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Christian Arrieta. Of all the step-backers, Arrieta takes the cake. In the 69th, He went to sleep after the ball was played wide and was nowhere near Alvaro Saborio when the RSL man headed in from close range. It was head-slappingly bad defending. While it was clear that RSL had the better midfield and defense, their strikers weren’t setting the world on fire. But they just couldn’t miss some of the incredible opportunities the Union were determined to offer up on a silver platter. This was best summed up by an unidentified bar patron who screamed, “You can’t buy a beer in Salt Lake City but they’ll just give you goals!”

In the 85th minute, Nakazawa finally got a chance to put a free kick directly on net. All game, the debutante midfielder had been slicing balls into the box and watching incredulously as his teammates steadfastly refused to challenge for them. Nakazawa put his shot high, but it had pace and was well-taken.

The game ended 3-0 and Peter Nowak has to wonder why his team appears to be treading water instead of improving. And fans have to wonder what Chris Seitz is doing in practice that gets him minutes between the pipes, because what we’re seeing in games is a goalie with little confidence and no leadership.


  1. “The first goal of the game came in the 26th minute. Christian Arrieta played the ball from the right wing back… to a lazy Real Salt Lake striker, who turned and headed to goal with nobody but Seitz in front of him”

    You homers are rich. Lazy? I’ll trade Moreno, Mwanga or McInerney in a second for Saborio. I think RSL was the far better team and that goal was all on Arrieta and Seitz who gift wrapped the goal for RSL.

  2. Adam Cann says:

    Yeah, but what was he doing up there? Hoping Arrieta would pass it to him? Lazy refers to whatever efforts landed him 15 yards behind the offsides line, not an indictment of his career or even his play that game.

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