Union / Union match reports

Breaking down the Union win over Celtic

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Union’s play last night, and there were several, was the play of the defensive backs and the outside midfielders. Cristian Arrieta looked masterful throughout, denying many a Celtic rush, while Michael Orozco Fiscal was equally impressive on the other side of the field.

Both Jacobson and Torres showed a determination to pen Celtic in with industrious runs to the ball brimming with confidence. It was the ability to stymie runs and then pen their opponents in — particularly in the second half– that will be one of the greatest things to come out of this match.

Of course, there’s also the strong play of Danny Mwanga and the man of mystery for most of the night, Eduardo Coudet, the former River Plate, and, most recently, Atletico Colón player whose signing the Union are set to announce. Mwanga nearly opened the scoring himself around the 5th minute; showing strength on the ball, he was taken down near the spot on a hard, yet clean tackle, though he nearly put it away as he fell. On an ensuing corner he nearly made amends, and throughout  the remainder of the match he continued to harry an overwhelmed Celtic squad that was clearly feeling the pressure of facing an in season squad.

It was Mwanga’s dazzling pressure in the 23rd that started off the series that led to the only goal of the night. Only in concert could Celtic stop Mwanga, who perhaps tried to beat too many defenders — three was enough Danny. But the Union quickly regained possession. A deft Fred backpass was collected by Jordan Harvey and moved on to ‘that new guy with the blonde dye job’ who passed smoothly to a surging Le Toux, who was eager to make amends for his many unrealized chances against San Jose; he smartly moved around the keeper’s charge with some quick foot work to send us into a state of jubilation.

It was one of many nice plays for Coudet. “Only his hair,” one fan said, when I remarked that he wasn’t doing a single thing wrong. At times he looked like Michael Bradley, displaying a phenomenal work rate that brought him back through center many a time to regain possession, thus taking off pressure from Danny Califf and Toni Stahl, who both played lockdown defense, with the latter definitely needing a solid performance.

Coudet never seemed to make a mistake, with nearly every pass calmly slotted to a teammate at every part of the field; with great vision he spread the field, dropped the ball back in the face of pressure, and led forwards on direct and slanted runs. Without a doubt, he demonstrated the experience and skill that caused the Union to give him a trial run.

And certainly, we can’t overlook the fact that these games are far from being the most meaningful. Celtic is just coming out of the gate, and they hardly fielded a full squad. But to counter, there’s the fact the Nowak peppered his squad with hardly seen faces such as Amobi Okugo and Stahl, while giving Seitz a rest in favor of Brad Knighton and Brian Perk, who took care of the little pressure Celtic showed late in the match.

And since when have we seen Jack McInerney be given a more free flowing role in the attack? Or at least take to an opportunity in such a way? He looked much better slotting back into mid a bit and moving up with and aiding the attack, rather than simply slotting up top while waiting to be sprung. In the 66th he made his presence felt with a strong push towards goal. He followed with a nice free kick that dropped just a little too late.

Besides the four-flare incident towards game’s end, Celtic’s only flash of brilliance was negated by an offside flag that ran afoul of the minds of every Celtic fan I met post-game. It would have been 90th minute magic following a nice run, but the linesman said, ‘no dice,’ regardless of how prettily the ball was placed in the top shelf of the opposite side of goal. The Union D had the same to say on an ensuing corner.

The build up was definitely there for Celtic. Stahl showed heretofore unseen industry by dispossessing two attackers; after mugging one, he lunged to thwart a second who had gobbled up the loose ball. And, as was the case all night, the defense once again solidified tightly in the 88th around the area. Jordan Harvey, marking his opponent well to goal side, bailed us out with a sliding boot.

Sure, one can point once again to the numerous disadvantages faced by Celtic when contending that the play will not always be that sharp. What will carry over is a certain boost in confidence, particularly with players who have been on the bubble. Nowak’s sagacious selection precludes the team from having too much room for second guessing their strong play, which limited a still decent squad to a few free kick scares– most sent just off target by Landry N’Guemo– and one masterful rush negated by the linesman.

And but for a timely block that sent the ball rocketing out to mid, a nice exchange worked by Nick Zimmerman and Jordan Harvey– seemingly on target– could have put us up 2-nil in the 52nd. Come Saturday against Toronto, we’ll see how much this game really meant.

3 Comments

  1. Do we have any idea if Coudet could play on saturday if he is signed by then? I am a bit annoyed that we have been left in the dark so much about him by the Union.

  2. Ed Farnsworth says:

    It was good to see McInerney but I don’t think he came on for Moreno because I think Moreno had the night off and wasn’t even on the bench. I went to the Union site for a game summary that listed the roster and substitutions but couldn’t find one. (Message to the Union: I know it was a friendly, Union, but that kind of information does come in handy.) This is going to drive me nuts now.

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