Union / Union match reports

San Jose Earthquakes 1 – 0 Philadelphia Union

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MKgc9ghPvw[/youtube]

Philadelphia Union lost 1-0 to the San Jose Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday as another defensive lapse cost Philadelphia at least a point. Chris Wondolowski scored the only goal of the game, heading in a cross as central defenders Danny Califf and Michael Orozco Fiscal had first row seats as they stood and watched the play develop. Jordan Harvey can’t escape some blame, as he pulled his head back from blocking the cross. It was the one of the only real chances for either team in a game played out on a pitch that would have been more suitable for 10 v 10.

After keeping the Union’s first clean sheet of the season, Brad Knighton again got the start in goal. He was strong and can’t be blamed at all for the goal that was conceded. Sheanon Williams played all 90 minutes again at right back, bombing forward when possible and remaining dangerous with his long throw-ins. Danny Mwanga was forced into a substitute’s role with a sore shoulder and was missed as the Union lacked a bit of creativity in the final third for much of the game.

The first half played out with few chances going to either team. San Jose dropped deep to defend and while the Union kept the ball for large stretches, they failed to create too many clear cut chances. Stefani Miglioranzi’s two shots from distance were the Union’s best efforts, but neither was much trouble for SJ goalkeeper Jon Busch.

The second half started with much of the same. A series of three consecutive corner kicks failed to produce much for the Earthquakes on 55 minutes. Shea Salinas was brought in around the 60-minute mark for the always underwhelming Alejandro Moreno and was industrious in his efforts, but still the Union failed to create much going forward. Wondolowski’s goal came after some short sustained pressure by San Jose. Bobby Convey initially drove the ball into the box, where it was cleared out to Arturo Alvarez on the right side. He lobbed a cross to the top of the six yard box, where Wondolowski stole in to head home amongst four Union players. It was terrible marking on a cross that should have been dealt with. Knighton got his finger tips to the shot,  but it was not enough to keep it out.

The Union pressed for the equalizer, inserting Danny Mwanga and Jack McInerney, but Jon Busch was able to preserve the clean sheet making a few solid stops in the dying minutes and in stoppage time. Newly acquired designated player Geovanni hit a tremendous free kick from about 20 yards in the 89th minute that looked destined for the upper 90, but a brilliant save from a fully stretched Knighton tipped the ball away.

Jordan Harvey … meet the bench

With the emergence of Sheanon Williams as a strong option at right back, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jordan Harvey drop to the bench when Juan Diego Gonzalez returns with Michael Orozco Fiscal moving over to left back. Harvey again last night provided no service and very few effective runs forward. And let’s face it, he hasn’t been that solid as an out and out defender.  Harvey is not the worst outside back in the world, but I think his best role for this team might be as a backup.

Fred and Moreno … meet the expansion draft

I’ve heard the Pacific Northwest is lovely guys, seriously. Vancouver and Portland should have their pick of one or both of these guys in next season’s expansion draft. With the amount of young talent already on the Union roster, these two veterans should find themselves unprotected. For all of his cheeky moves, Fred gives up the ball way too much, lacks a serious sense of positioning, can’t shoot worth a damn, and takes some terrible dives. Moreno has convinced every ref in the league that he is also a serious diver to the point where the guy can’t even get a call when he is really fouled. And let’s not forget the guy has one goal on the season. Both of these guys probably could have been called above average MLS players for long periods over their career, but you’d be hard-pressed to find too many that would still say that.

Shea Salinas … meet the starting lineup

Salinas again was a spark for the Union when he came on with about 30 minutes to play. You have to think he will be able to crack the starting line up when he returns to full fitness (hopefully next game).  On a team that has a serious lack of dynamic outside players, Salinas is probably the best option on the wing. He takes people on one on one, can shoot from distance, and can provide service. He seemed to link up nicely with Sheanon Williams later in the second half as well. That could be a very dynamic right side for the Union given the chance to play together for a longer period of time.

San Jose’s stadium sucks

I’m out of clever “meet the…” options, sorry. But did you see that thing? A professional sports team plays there? Philadelphia is blessed with the lovely PPL Park as a home ground. There is tremendous support for the team there and it’s a great place to see a soccer match. Buck Shaw stadium looks like it would be a place to catch a division 3 college football game. There is a new stadium in the works for the Earthquakes, and I’m sure it can’t come soon enough for both the San Jose players and the rest of MLS. The pitch at Buck Shaw is narrow and short. It basically dictates the SJ game plan of sit in, play decent defense and hopefully counterattack for a goal. There is really no other way to play on such a small pitch. The Union’s possession passing game was completely ineffective.

Player Ratings

GK Brad Knighton – 7

Could have been another clean sheet for Knighton if he wasn’t hung out to dry on the SJ goal by the defenders. Sensational stop on Geovanni’s free kick.

RB Sheanon Wiliams – 8

The rookie remains impressive with his forward runs and the ability to take long throw ins. Caught out of position a few times on the night, but hopefully by next game, his central defenders will have learned to cover for him.

CB Danny Califf – 5

Quiet game for Califf as SJ did not attack much, but just stood and watched as Wondolowski scored. That armband would look nice on Le Toux wouldn’t it?

CB Michael Orozco Fiscal – 5

See above. Pretty quiet day as well, but standing still when the goal was scored.

LB Jordan Harvey – 5

See the paragraph above. Pulled his head away from goal scoring cross. No service, no runs forward, average defensive cover.

RM Justin Mapp – 6

Coming off a standout performance against Chicago, Mapp was quiet in San Jose. Solid in possession but failed to provide much service or any shots on goal.

CM Stefani Miglioranzi – 5

Two shots from distance in the first half but little else from Migs. I fail to see the justification for his inclusion over Okugo, who does all the same things defensively and can distribute.

CM Andrew Jacobson – 6

Seems comfortable in the center, but I don’t see the need for two holding midfielders in a game that you need to win (especially for all 90 minutes). If he is going to start along with Migs, needs to provide more offense.

LM Fred – 5

More of the same from Fred. Some smooth moves with the ball, but no real solid combination play and little threat to the SJ goal. Started as a left midfielder but was all over the field until subbed off. Would have been nice to have some width on the small pitch.

F Sebastien Le Toux – 6

Difficult game for Le Toux. Struggled to find space and had few chances in the final the third. And was absolutely dreadful on free kicks. Let Mapp take them from now on Sebastien. Get that big head in the box.

F Alejandro Moreno – 5

Starting in place of the nicked up Danny Mwanga, the Union got nothing from Moreno. Little possession, more dives, and a weak shot on goal.

Subs

Shea Salinas – 7

Again came off the bench to jumpstart the Union. Quick with the ball on his feet and willing to take defenders on. As he returns to form and fitness, we should see more and more of him. Had a decent shot saved very late in the game.

Jack McInerney – 5

Saw little of the ball coming on with 15 minutes to play. Struggles to find room with Le Toux and Mwanga in.

Danny Mwanga – 5

Coming off the bench due to his shoulder injury, Mwanga only saw the field for 20 minutes and was met with few opportunities.

11 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Philly Soccer Page » Playoff hopes on hold, more news

  2. I thought Mapp had an impressive first half, popping up everywhere. It was easy to notice him since Kyle Martino slobbered all over him during the broadcast.
    Why can’t Fred make solid contact on a shot? Or even a cross? Is this some sort of psychological thing? A hitch in his giddyup?
    Man, you are dead-on about the centerbacks needing to learn to cover. With Mapp sucking into the middle to take up all the space left behind the strikers (since both our CMs like to sit in), there was a ton of space up the wing and Williams did a great job of taking it. But there was no recognition by the other three in the back (or the opposite winger, Flighty Fred) of the need to cover. It’s so strange to hear the Union’s style called “expansive” when we play with 4 natural centermen in the midfield and don’t know how to adjust when we have attacking fullbacks.
    Knighton was great. Aggressive and energetic.

  3. I have said for months Harvey needs to see that bench and finally my dream is logistically possible since now we have a legitimate outside back to replace him. Oh, and did I mention his throw ins are better than Le Touxs corners. Great article Mike, SJs stadium is an embarrassment to the league and so are their announcers, the whole set up there is really very poor. Stadium staff including announcees are clearly d3 college staff, they can not even afford an LED board for the subs and instead have a guy hold up cards. The announcers were so bad that they credited Migs with both of those rocket shots when replays clearly show both were Jacobson. Out of the 2k fans that were there the only ones that were vocal liked more like drunk university students who said lets go to a game. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but perhaps the failure of one SJ team was a good sign that there should NOT be a team there. How SJ was given effectively two franchises before Philly or Seattle got one is beyond me.

  4. I hate to beat this dead horse, but they get NOTHING from dead ball situations. I was happy to see Mapp pick up some of the corners and free kicks. I would love to see the plus/minus when it comes to free kicks with team.

    Your point about playing two D mids is spot on. If you are going to do that, one of them has to be Amobi Okugo. He gives you more than the other holding guys on the roster and his ability to push forward was need. Need for next season: A true midfield general. Someone to pull the strings in the center of the park. I thought it would be Fred, but not so much. It could be Roger, when he gets a little more maturity to his game.

    The more I see Williams the more excited I am about his future with the team. So much speed, such a great athlete.

  5. If you watch the goal again — the 3-minute mark on the video above — you’ll see Califf right next to Eduardo, marking him. Wondolowski was a few feet behind Califf. Miglioranzi’s standing behind Wondolowski and defending no one. The goal falls on Migs and Harvey, not really Califf or Orozco.

  6. Pingback: The Philly Soccer Page » Union v San Jose quick reference

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