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Match report: Union 1-1 Dynamo

The 2011 Jack McInerney has been passive and tentative, clearly frustrated at himself.

In front of a packed house at PPL Park on Saturday night, McInerney looked frustrated for a different reason. He wanted the ball. More, more, more. In the fifteenth minute: a goal. Moments later: A brilliant finish called back for offsides.

In the end, McInerney’s first strike of the season was not enough. Geoff Cameron equalized in the 85th and the Union dropped points for the second straight home match, tying the Houston Dynamo 1-1.

Mac up top

While the Union continued their recent run of messy play, McInerney was a dynamic force. Often isolated against the giants of the Houston back line, Mac dragged the slower defenders across the pitch with angled runs that can only be the product of a brilliant soccer mind functioning near it’s peak.

The opening minutes could have been a continuation of Wednesday’s match in Chicago. The Union midfield was disorganized and only Brian Carroll’s work rate kept Houston from peppering the Union box with crosses.

When the home team pressed forward, they tended to move too slowly against a big back line that required craft to unlock.

But through it all, Jack McInerney was a vitalizing force. Fronting the line, he created space and forced Bobby Boswell to climb him like a stepladder on headers.

In the fifteenth minute, McInerney was rewarded for his efforts. A turnover in the Houston third resulted in Mac getting space outside the eighteen. He drove at the defense and flicked the ball wide to Le Toux. The Frenchman hit a return pass through the center as he fell backwards. McInerney rounded the Houston giants and nudged the ball past a prone Tally Hall. It was relief for McInerney and pride for the Union coaching staff, who have used Mac as a sub and a starter this season, trying desperately to help him find his groove.

Three minutes later, McInerney thought he had a second. A swift counterattack pushed the ball wide to Sheanon Williams and he took a touch before sliding the ball behind the defense to McInerney. The young striker casually slotted home from sixteen out, but the offsides flag was correctly raised.

Garfan handles Brad Davis

Houston sought to find Brad Davis on the right, but Gabriel Farfan wouldn’t let Davis come out and play until he’d eaten all his tackles. And there were a lot of them to swallow.

In the 22nd, Garfan forced Davis to slide the ball wide when he wanted a shot, then followed the play and bodied Colin Clark off the ball.

Houston responded by moving Davis to the left flank, where he pulled jinky moves at Sheanon for the rest of the evening.

Houston possess against disorganized Union

In the final fifteen minutes of the first half, the Union’s offensive playmakers barely had a sniff of the ball. Houston managed to create offensive sets through Geoff Cameron’s quick passing, and the home team’s defensive shape collapsed. Williams, Paunovic, Mapp and Torres all offered up cheap giveaways in the center of the park and the pressure from Houston was appropriately unrelenting.

Weaver cheap shot

Danny Califf was in the midst of another strong performance when Cam Weaver took out his frustration on the center back. After being stoned again on an attempted turn, Weaver managed to slam his arm into Califf’s eyebrow without the linesman or referee catching him.

Fans will be unsurprised to hear that referee Terry Vaughn missed something: His performance lacked in confidence and the Dynamo took full advantage with a brutally physical second half.

A chance for Clark at the close

As the first half drew to a close, both teams would have the opportunity to break through. When Williams screwed his clearance into the middle of the park, Le Toux collected it and tried to spring McInerney, but Bobby Boswell took a good angle to cut off Mac’s run.

Then, Brad Davis whipped a fine ball into the box and Colin Clark got behind Gabe Farfan. Alone on Mondragon, he tried to touch the ball around the big goalie, but lost control and ended up lifting his shot well over.

Two halftime changes, early chance for Mwanga

Roger Torres and Justin Mapp hit the showers at halftime, with Danny Mwanga and Michael Farfan brought on to extend the lead.

Mwanga had his first chance in the 47th minute. Marfan intercepted a poor pass and carried it through the center. Mwanga’s diagonal run brought him the ball in the right channel, but his first touch was wide and he fired limply at goal.

But it wasn’t all shots on goal and roses for the Union in the second frame. The substitutions meant Veljko Paunovic had to drop into a midfield role, and Houston thought that was a fine idea indeed. Finding space in the middle of the pitch, the Dynamo attack looked sharper and more focused. Off a Brad Davis free kick, Geoff Cameron’s header of the bar was a clear warning shot.

McInerney bicycle kick

McInerney had one last shot to extend the lead. Michael Farfan—looking his usual confident self back in a midfield role—curled a breathtaking pass behind the defense as Mac stepped in front of Boswell near the six. McInerney tried to lift the ball over Tally Hall and into the far corner, but a deflection left the orb spinning in place above the striker’s head. Without hesitation, he embarked on an ambitious overhead kick that inched over the bar.

McInerney left the match soon after, making way for Stefani Miglioranzi.

Mwanga taken down in the box

Danny Mwanga was determined to double the score, but on this night he wasn’t going to do it without the help of Terry Vaughn’s whistle. Receiving a Mondragon kick near the mid-line, Mwanga beat what looked like the entire Houston team, a barbarian army, and Ken Jennings before arriving at the edge of the box and using a hesitation spin move to cut inside. He was immediately hauled down by the frustrated Dynamo defense, but there was no whistle and an incredulous Mwanga slammed the turf with his fist.

It was the start of a disturbing pattern. Mwanga, Michael Farfan, and Sheanon Williams all seemed to have no trouble turning the Houston defenders they met. But when the Dynamo cynically pulled them down, in a literal fistful of shirt sense, only play-ons and cardless fouls were given. Mwanga, in particular, received a number of extended-arm shoves from Boswell without official intervention.

Valdes yellow card suspension

And then, late in the match, Carlos Valdes received a strange yellow card that will see him suspended for Saturday’s match against Dallas. Play was blown dead with a cross in the air. Valdes fired the ball over the net as a Houston defender dove in to head it. Hilariously, the reason listed for Valdes’ card on the MLS website is, “Argument.” The caution was issued much too swiftly for any arguing to have taken place.

Le Toux off the post

In the 84th minute, Miglioranzi hit a gorgeous pass with the outside of his foot that spun between defenders and released Le Toux on goal. The Frenchman cut inside and lashed a fine shot past Tally Hall that hit off the inside of the post and bounced out. Le Toux could still be seen with his head in his hands moments later as he surely wondered what manner of sacrifice he needs to force a ball into the net.

Cameron equalizer

A minute later, Geoff Cameron would have no such bad luck. The Union’s clearances had been poor all night, and it came back to haunt them when Danny Califf couldn’t clear a long ball. His header was collected by Cameron, who touched the ball around Miglioranzi and fired a bullet into the corner from the top of the circle.

Although Sheanon Williams would have one last chance in the 88th (spun well wide of Hall’s net), the match was over and the Union deflated.

They head into a big match with Dallas desperately in need of a win to keep them ahead of the pack in the Eastern Conference.


  1. Shouldn’t the title be: “Union sub out Man of the Match in the 65 minute for aging dinosaur in bunkering attempt and lose 5 points in the process to an Eastern Conference team”

    Why take JMac off when Panauvic was obviously gassed? Unbelievably poor coaching with that move. JMac deserved to see the game through.

    Marfan is the steal of the draft. The Union have gotten lucky with Sheanon (who didn’t play well last night with his audition for Klinsmann unfortunately) and Marfan. We are lucky to have him drop down as far as he did in the draft. He is much further ahead than I would have anticipated compared to other college attacking player over the past 2 years. He deserves to start or be first off the bench.

    Le Toux should sacrifice his playing minutes…

    Only the FO can be pushing for his “concrete-like first touch” to continue to get so many minutes. Let him sit for a game or see if coming off the bench will give him the spark. Can you imagine a tired defense seeing him come on in the 70th minute to hound them relentlessly. Oh well- I’m not the coach.

    Let’s see what Nowak and the FO have in mind to improve the team. We have definitely not improved over the last month, and we need an injection of life to a stalling team. Can they get it done?

    One final thought- FREE AMOBI OKUGO! How does Migs get the run out when Amobi is a way more solid player. I feel bad for the kid.

    Good stuff Adam!

    • Wow, you are a mind reader. For an early Christmas gift I want Migs to NEVER wear the shirt again. How do you leave the Old Serb, who had a decent game, in for a full 90 and take a young hungry striker off. Le Toux is never scoring again. We are SCREWED next week…

  2. I keep thinking of this scene as it is related to Le Toux. We may need a live chicken… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8olTfKZnFiM

    And am I the first to point out that the U is winless since the Ruiz thing went down? 1 loss and 2 draw… This super duper multiplayer multiteam multi-galaxy deal the FO is talking about better happen like yesterday….

  3. BOOOOOOOO!!!!
    Once again boos rang out at PPL park. The initial once were not for the refs. This is Philly, and the boos were deserved. The Union was out played. Dynamo deserved the tie.

    Mapp-useless. He slowed down the counters. The man is a disaster.
    Paunovic-looked strong most of the game. Of his few outings this was his best. He really husled out there. Shows that Ruiz was just lazy.
    Le Toux-Can you say French 3rd division?

    This team has no width. The few times that the ball went out wide no one made runs into the box! No one made runs to the far post! Why? Are they playing scared? Horrible, choppy game.

  4. the Old Serb, had a good first half, and usually thats all he will ever have, i liked mapp coming off but torres should have stayed in. what the heck was our defense doing last night. really it was a poor showing from them. and then the coaching staff strikes again. migs def did not need to come on especially that early. i knew we were getting 1 point out of the match when migs came in cuz we would just sit and let them attack def let way more points go than what we should have this week, disappoint results all week really

  5. Honestly I have to wonder what does the coaching staff do every week? We’ve had some very good games this season, yet it seems like the next week we just come out with a new lineup and a new strategy.
    Mapp and Le Toux seemed to have no direction on the wings, Torres was playing too far forward expecting passes to come his way. And what exactly did Paunovic give us?
    And too make it worse, they start/sub players that have no business starting (Le Toux/Mapp/Paunovic/Miggy) over players who have shown they have skills to offer us (Marfan/Okugo/Torres/Jack Mac).
    What is that stat … I think the same lineup has started back to back games only once this season. Once!!! How can a team gel like that?

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