Featured / Union / Union match reports

Match report: Union at Whitecaps

The Union lost 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday night. It was the expansion club’s first win since the opening match of the season.

Starting Lineup

Many will question the team selection, which left Keon Daniel (goal against RSL) and Michael Farfan (assist against RSL) sitting next to in-form Danny Mwanga on the bench. Peter Nowak returned Justin Mapp and Stefani Miglioranzi to the starting lineup and handed aged Serbian scamp Paunovic his first start.

First half

The first ten minutes of the match were the sort of convoluted mess that was reminiscent of the Union’s April performances. Both midfields were overcrowded and uncreative, and both sides played like volleyball teams lost inside a soccer match.

The course of the game was significantly altered in the 11th minute when Chiumiento wove through the Union’s midfield and dinked a pass out left for Alain Rochat. He lined up a left-footed laser from above the box and it tasted net just inside the far post.

The Union, set up conservatively with Nakazawa wide of Miglioranzi and Carroll, needed to push forward with a renewed vigor.

This proved harder than it should have been. New boy Paunovic played as an extremely deep supporting striker and he found himself clogging Mapp’s running lanes. Le Toux was isolated up top and Nakazawa was pinned back by Rochat.

Vancouver pressed high up the pitch as a team, and with such a crowded midfield, Philadelphia found few clear paths through the Whitecaps. Justin Mapp was pushing to create, but he was trying to do too much alone. In the 18th minute, Mapp took his own space away with a run down the left. The swarming Vancouver defense isolated Mapp and he was forced into a turnover.

A frustrated Union was pushing more numbers forward and it nearly cost them. In the 21st minute, Salinas took off on a run down the right. A lofted ball put him one-on-one with Califf and he managed to cross on the ground to Hassli in the center. The big Frenchman had one touch to shoot and he skied his shot over the bar from 10 yards out.

Philly’s best chance of the half came moments later. Dunfield’s intentional handball gave Le Toux a free kick from 22 out. He blasted into the wall, but the loose ball fell to Carroll straight on net from 20 yards away. Carroll swung a hard left foot but it was right to Cannon in net.

The Union’s opportunities were coming from early crosses to the far corner. Sheanon Williams made a perfect run to the flag to collect one such ball. He cut back to Brian Carroll (looking more like a shoe-flattened Lucas Leiva every day), but his cross typified the Union’s day for service.

It was around this time that the refereeing became a serious issue. Le Toux was hacked down by Rochat at the top of the box but no call was made. Players on both teams began testing the referee’s limits and received little push back.

Four minutes after the Le Toux no-call, Carlos Valdes collected a failed Vancouver clearance and shielded the ball from Eric Hassli. The Frenchman simply bowled Valdes over without a whistle. When Valdes tripped Hassli, he received a yellow card and a verbal caution.

The Union were unnerved by this turn of events and the first half played out in a grinding fashion. The only notable event was a 40-yard ball from Nakazawa to Le Toux that saw a good left-footed shot deflected out for a throw.


Halftime changes were inevitable. If anything, Union fans expected a minimum of two changes. What they got was Peter Nowak’s continuing tradition of using subs to completely change tactics. Miglioranzi was off and Mwanga on. Paunovic could officially take up a deeper role behind Mwanga and Le Toux.

Not that this helped. It was just, well, different. Mwanga was an improvement but he was not the confident striker of weeks past. Despite the Union’s halftime change, it was Vancouver who created early chances in half number two.

Second half

First, Salinas skipped by Brian Carroll and fed in Camilo who had his shot saved.

Moments later, Eric Hassli executed a deft turn near the top of the box and put a charge into a left footer. It zoomed just over the bar.

The Whitecaps came close again in the 57th. Hassli left a cross from the right for Brovsky, who was alone with Mondragon six yards from goal. Only a sliding Sheanon Williams preserved the 1-0 scoreline.

Paunovic saw his day come to a close in the 60th. Michael Farfan entered for the big Serb.

The ref was again front and center in the 60s. Boxall began a campaign of fouls against Mwanga. Despite a number of clear infractions, the referee never gave Boxall the yellow that would have backed him off the Union forward.

The 80th minute produced the weirdest moment of the game. Faryd Mondragon misplaced a deep ball. He then went hunting for Whitecaps 35 yards upfield, chasing anyone who touched the ball and trying to prevent a shot on the empty net. He did well, and Brian Carroll cleared the only shot of the sequence.

Nine minutes of Roger Torres, on for Jordan Harvey, were not enough to change the tide of the match. It was a much-needed win for struggling Vancouver and a huge missed opportunity for Philadelphia.


  1. so 2010(except for le toux who was still very 2011). ugh.

  2. Yuck. So many giveaways…

    It’s tough to build an attack when you can’t string more than two or three passes together.

  3. PhillyHotspur says:

    The offense finally flowing and turning things around……….

    So Nowak starts a Serb who hasn’t played for two years on a club he has never played for….ahead of their hottest player. Another gaffe from our coach………

    Why not benching LeToux instead of Dannyboy ?

    That game was pretty beat………i don’t get it.

  4. Can Miglioranzi stay off the field for good? He is terrible. Why can’t Nowak stay with a consistent line-up? They get 6 goals in Toronto and yet each week after there is a different starting 11. Very frustrating.

  5. I agree with Troy. It makes absolutely no sense why Nowak has changed the lineup in just about every game. Enough is enough already! LT and DM up front, Carrol, Daniel, Naka (or Torres) and one of the Farfan’s in the middle, and our standard 4 in back. That works. Why can’t Nowak understand this already?

  6. I thought the whole midfield had an awful game, subs included (although Torres didn’t have much of a chance).
    Also, assuming the philadelphiaunion.com ‘s article, suggesting Nakazawa needs to be better at offense, is a correct assessment of how they feel about him, why in the world did Nowak start 3 defensive midfielders?

    Would’ve been nice if we didn’t have to waste two subs on guys who never should’ve started (Paunovich, Miglioranzi), so we could’ve used them on people having a particularly off day (Mapp, Nakazawa)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *