Featured / Local

Thursday Morning Manager: Fire 1 – 1 Union

When PSP runs our live commentary during away matches, we get lots of interesting comments and questions from readers. We take those comments and try to put together a list of questions that get to the heart of what Union fans want to know about the team.

The Question:  How would the Union replace Ruiz in the starting lineup?

Los117: “Wow! Didnt see Mwanga on the bench with Ruiz leaving…Nowak continues to surprise!”

PSPEli: “Perhaps the intention is a 4-5-1 with the Old Serb sliding to RM and Le Toux running alone up top, but even that seems foolish at best given Paunovic’s preference to play centrally.”

Bryan: “Told you all Paunovic is the man to replace Ruiz.”

BenjaminT: “I can’t wait to hear from the ‘told you so!’ Ruiz apologists”

After the big news last week of the departure of Carlos Ruz, the question was how much he would be missed and which players would have the most to gain from his exit. Many of us suspected the answer would again be Danny Mwanga and Sebastien Le Toux up top. The answer for the Union against Chicago turned out to be an overhaul of their entire formation and personnel (partly due to a Sheanon Williams suspension) with Veljko Paunovic up top alone to be joined by Le Toux and Justin Mapp in the attack. When that proved to not work, Paunovic was moved outside and Le Toux inside. Behind all of this was a bevy of central midfielders in Roger Torres, Stefani Miglioranzi, and Brian Carroll.

The Question:  Why the drastic change in formation and style of play?

PSPEli: “The Union lineup has been announced and its a doozy”

PSP Mike: “Why do we need two holding midfielders against the worst team in the conference?…If we’re going to be a first place team. We should learn to play like one on the road. We should be going for all three points here. This is not a line up to get three points.”

James: “So when I looked at the lineup 20 minutes ago my heart sank tbh…I don’t know what Nowak is trying to do with these lineups anymore”

Mikey: “got a feeling we will be seeing Carroll/Migz and Torres Paunavic in the same areas a lot”

The formation seemed to be based around supplying defensive help for the two Farfans, who are both natural midfielders. However, the packed central midfield, coupled with Justin Mapp deciding this was the game to check to the middle of the field on every play, provided the mids with no room to operate. A crowded center of the field is exactly the opposite of what a player like Torres needs to be effective, and he struggled to create openings all night. Both the midfielders and attackers basically took turns completely disappearing from play throughout the match.

The Question:  How much would the Union miss Sheanon Williams on the back line?

DL: “As much as we all love Sheanon Williams, tonight is showing he might even be more valuable than we thought.”

With the Sheanomenon out on a red card suspension after mouthing off at the official Friday night, the Union dropped Michael Farfan to the outside fullback. Marfan played about as well as one could expect an outside midfielder pushed into a defensive spot to play. He was decent, but often overly aggressive, and while the poor defensive play from the Union cannot be blamed on Marfan, Sheanon’s covering ability, and strength were clearly missed by the two center backs.

The Question:  Why does the Union coaching staff continually refuse to make the obvious substitution?

PSP Mike: “I don’t understand why we have to wait until the 45th, 60th and somethings 75th minute to get the correct line up on the field.”

Andrew: “why is mapp still in”

DL: “I think this is a game where Jack Mac can have a huge impact”

matt kirk: “just do not even comprehend why the Union coaches make these decisions, what a waste…how does this make any sense to anyone besides the coaches themselves”

James: “Are these coaches TRYING to get us to hate them!?!?!?!”

Bryan: “Nowak isn’t the only one struggling with spasms right now.”

This was a key topic throughout the second half, which is best summed up by a poll taken at halftime asking which Union sub (except for Mwanga) would have the largest impact on the game. The vote went largely in favor if Keon Daniel and Jack Mac as the difference makers off the bench, and the general consensus was to remove the old fellas Miglioranzi, Paunovic, and Mapp. Sure enough, after Chicago equalized, Mwanga was brought in for Roger Torres, who had been the only attacking presence in the midfield. Next in was Kyle Nakazawa (receiving zero votes), and finally Keon Daniel in the 86th (!) minute. Needless to say, the substitution decisions resulted in much disbelief and head shaking, much as they have done repeatedly throughout the season.

The Question:  Why is Miglioranzi starting? / Why is Miglioranzi still in the game? / Are they seriously going to let Migs play the full 90 minutes?

Mikey: “Starting Migz just seems like starting Okugo, but asking him to only go 3/4 speed”

Not so long ago, many of us thought that Stefani’s time in the midfield was finished and he that was destined to be the backup center back. Sure enough, against Chicago he started in the middle, trudging around the pitch for the full 90 minutes. The frustration on the commenter’s part is not so much all about Migs himself, as much as it is the fact that there is a more talented player in Amobi Okugo who plays the same position spending the same 90 minutes on the bench. And while it may not be entirely fair to blame the goal on Miglioranzi, a lineup with two defensive midfielders should have coverage at the top of the 18, and Migs appeared to be quite late arriving on the play.

The Question: Why didn’t Danny Mwanga Shoot in the 90th minute from 10 yards out?

This one is best summed up by the readers:

Nat: “WTF MWANGA!!!!!”


PSP Mike: “Danny! How do you not shoot!”

Greg O: “What. The. Hell…”

DL: “SHOOT THE BALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

BenjaminT: “How…do you not…shoot that?”

The Question:  “Migserable:” Great term…or Greatest term?

You decide…(Other PSP originals include Sheanomenon, Farfantastic, Garfan and Marfan.)

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Union


  1. I’m on the Migserable train!

  2. At this point the team might as well have a random fan pick out the lineup at the start of every game.

    They’d probably do better than the coaches.

  3. MikeRSoccer says:

    I didn’t think anything could make me feel more disappointed with the Union after last night. Then I saw that Klinsman called up our former MIA CB Orozco fiscal…talk about insult to injury. Today sucks.

  4. Migserable is def the greatest out of the PSP originals. Totally agree with Mike about Orozco Fiscal, just hurt when I saw his name but also happy for him as well, he deserves it. But once again what do the coaches see that we do not see in terms of starting XI and subs. They seem to be watching a completely different game then us, the fans.

  5. I was sort of excited when I saw the 4-2-3-1. I thought they would play it similar to the USMNT’s 4-2-3-1 set up from the Gold Cup against Jamaica, where Migs is basically a third CB and provides cover for the Farfans to run all the way up the wing if they got the opportunity. Instead the midfield was a mess, it seemed like we couldn’t string 3 consecutive passes together. Anyone else think the formation was just too free-form for everyone to be on the same page?

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