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Match Report: Union 4-4 Revolution

Photo: Paul Rudderow

New England Manager Steve Nicol put it best: “Both teams were as bad defensively as each other.”

In a game that featured eight goals—two by way of penalty kicks—the Union overcame a three-goal deficit to salvage a draw at home against the Eastern Conference bottom-dwelling Revolution on Wednesday night. Defensive miscues handed New England a 3–0 lead by the 25th minute before Roger Torres found the back of the net and began the Union rally. Benny Feilhaber added a fourth tally in the first half to dampen the spirits of the PPL crowd, only to see the Union reignite their fans as they came storming back after the break.

Strong build-up play in the 54th minute from Roger Torres and Veljko Paunovic put Danny Mwanga into space where he found Freddy Adu streaking in from the left wing. Adu calmly slotted past Matt Reis for his first goal in a Union shirt and announced the Union’s intentions as they showed grit and determination in their fightback.

When Pat Phelan dragged down Sebastien Le Toux and the Union striker sent Reis the wrong way on the ensuing spot kick, it set up a breathless final ten minutes. An unfortunate injury to Phelan put the match on pause after he required treatment for an accidental knock to the head he took from acting captain Danny Califf and, when he was declared unfit to continue, more of the wind left the Revolution’s already wilting sails. It was Le Toux again, in added time, who earned the Union a point on the night as he lashed home Paunovic’s knock down for his second goal on the night.

In the dying seconds, the Union tried in vain to steal the most improbable of victories, but, in the end, a draw was a better result than any could have expected following their dire defensive performance in the first half.

Set piece defense rears its ugly head

With the Union in the early ascendancy, it was the Revolution who were able to cap off an early chance and draw first blood when A.J. Soares powered home a free header in the 9th minute after shaking free of Sheanon Williams’ mark. Having opened the game in a 4–2–3–1 with Roger Torres centering Sebastien Le Toux and Freddy Adu, all three midfielders featured prominently in the initial movements of the game with Adu providing service to Le Toux and Paunovic only to find Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis equal to the task. It was end-to-end stuff with both sides finding space in the center of the park as they searched for an opener. But it was to be New England who would strike first after Moncef Zerka’s bump on Le Toux went uncalled and Gabriel Farfan responded with a foul on the Moroccan international, allowing Chris Tierney to step up and provide the service for the game’s first goal.

A soft second…and third

Twelve minutes later things would get worse for the Union after an innocuous throw from Zerka landed in the top corner of the box for a 50-50 challenge between Stefani Miglioranzi and Rejko Lekic. The Revolution striker won the race to the ball and, while little contact was made by Miglioranzi, his high boot gave referee Jorge Gonzalez little choice but to point to the spot following the clumsy and unnecessary challenge. Lekic stepped up and converted his penalty, calmly chipping the ball past a helpless Zac MacMath, who would have hoped for a much different experience in his first start for the Union.

Four minutes later it would get still worse when Carlos Valdes failed to adequately clear a ball in the corner, allowing New England to come straight back at the Union. Tierney again played an inch perfect cross into the box and this time it was Zerka who slid in behind a helpless Gabriel Farfan to power a near-side header past MacMath. The header was the picture of perfection, but Farfan had come too far central and the Union defender’s suspect positioning gifted Zerka the opportunity.

The comeback begins

With their backs against the wall, the Union discovered their urgency and threw numbers forward. Only three minutes after Zerka’s goal, Sheanon Williams burst into the attack and laid the ball to Roger Torres. Rather than return the pass to his onrushing fullback, Torres spun to face goal and curled a delicate shot beyond the outstretched fingers of Matt Reis.

Momentum killer

The resurgence of the Union was to be short lived, however, as the Union defense continued to collapse deep into their own penalty area. Benny Feilhaber took advantage of the space left at the top of the box to skip past Brian Carroll and bury a low drive to the right of a helpless MacMath.

Halftime Reboot

With the introduction of Danny Mwanga and Michael Farfan for Gabriel Farfan and Stefani Miglioranzi, the Union made their intentions clear as they chased the three goal deficit. They would not have to wait long as they forced waves of pressure onto the New England defense. While the Union spurned multiple chances as they attempted to engineer the perfect final ball, the pressure was showing and the breakthrough seemed inevitable. With a rare Revolution counterattack  stopped, the field became stretched and, in the 54th minute, Roger Torres quickly switched the field of play to Veljko Paunovic, who slid a clever pass into Danny Mwanga. Mwanga reacted quickly to guide the ball into the path of the onrushing Freddy Adu who composed himself before thumping the ball beyond Reis.

Clawing back

Nicol brought on Pat Phelan and Ryan Guy in an effort to stop the bleeding, but it would be the former that would help the Union back into the match in the 79th minute. The Union’s pressure was unceasing and their attack was reinvigorated following Adu’s goal, but whether it was Mwanga failing to trouble Reis with a shot from the top of the box, Torres fizzing a volley over the frame or Darrius Barnes doing just enough to keep Williams out, the Union were stymied in their efforts to cut the deficit to a single goal.

Still, with the unrelenting pressure came the inevitable breakthrough and in this instance, a long Williams’ throw was flicked toward the backpost by Califf, where Sebastien Le Toux was wrestled to the ground by Phelan, again giving the referee little choice but to point to the spot. Up stepped Le Toux to convert the penalty and he dutifully sent Reis the wrong way with a low drive to the back of the net, setting up a frantic finish at PPL Park.

Further misfortune then struck the Revolution when Phelan slid to ground as he applied pressure to the Union defense high up the pitch. Danny Califf did all he could to hurdle the prone player but his knee connected with Phelan’s head and Phelan stayed down for a number of minutes as he received treatment. While he ultimately, and fortunately, left the field under his own power, Phelan would play no further part in the match with New England finishing the contest down to ten men.

The equalizer

As the game pushed deep into stoppage time, the Union’s persistence finally was rewarded. Again the reward came from a Sheanon Williams throw in, this time with the headed clearance reaching only as far as Carlos Valdes at the top of the box. Valdes’ touch lofted the ball back into the mixer where Paunovic found the opening to knock the ball into Le Toux’s path. His vicious strike left Reis with no chance and blew the roof off of PPL Park.

The Union’s fourth goal of the night had brought them all the way back and while each side still found time to squander a golden opportunity in the dying moments of the game, each came away from this wide open and entertaining contest with a hard-fought point.

23 Comments

  1. Santas Grotto says:

    The positioning at the back continues to be a major issue. Migs once again proved the pace of the game has passed him by. Finally, why Migs and Carroll for a home game? It should be clear by now this just doesn’t work.

    • PhillyHotSpur says:

      I completely agree that Miggs and Carroll make no sense at home………..why come out defensive-minded at Home vs a last place team ?

      And, count em 4 goals conceded on set pieces by Williams losing his man…..Galaxy , Portland, RealSL and now the Rev last night…….he needs to position himself better and stay focused.

      To all the LeToux haters…………FrenchCrowShake again. 2 goals and he is a gimmie from the Pk spot.

      Lastly……..Mapp should not be in the starting 11 and should be replaced by Adu. Keon on the other wing…

      Roll w/ Torres in the middle…….carrol the coverage. Rotate the Serb……..

      Williams……..Valdes……Cahill…….Farfan
      Adu………Carroll………Torres…….Keon
      ……………..LeToux(roaming)………..
      …………….DannyBoy or The Serb………..

      Lets go w/ that ….get the 11 meshing……….

      • I prefer Marfan to Torres. I would love to see the number of our goals scored when he is in.

      • with Adu in the middle obviously

      • CityHeroesSpursZeros says:

        Carroll is solid, migs wasn’t the worst last night, but I don’t see the point of two DM’s at home against the revs.

        Adu was the best player on the field, its the little things he does that keep possesion alive that i noticed last night. When the others players start feeling him and making the right runs, look out!!!!! Torres seemed to link up nicely with Adu

        Letoux scored 2, one was a garbage goal and the other was a PK. I Appreciate the hustle and he is our best option, but he still has he first touch of a rapist.

        Williams got schooled last night, he needs to find a balance with his offensive and defensive duties.

        As a hole the team needs to seriously work on their set pieces on both sides of the ball.

        Is Freddy hurt, he was holding his hammy during the last 10 minutes.

      • PhillyHotspur says:

        Letoux’s goal was a garbage goal ?

        he caught the ball on the way down in a 4-3 game and buried it in the back of the next leading the Union to a key point…….

        Using “garbage” to describe that goal scream of a little thing called H to the A to the T to the E.

      • CityHeroesSpursZeros says:

        Other than that goal and his gimme PK, do you think he had a good game?

      • That goal was a thing of beauty.

  2. Is there anyway we can start the second half lineup every game?! Please Mr. Nowak?!

    • While we’re asking for early Christmas gifts, can we throw a little Keon Daniel in the mix too? Just a smidge? 🙂

      • I believe Neon Keon should be back in time for the Portland match. If he plays is a different story. The backline looks banged up. A post-match quote from Nowak (I’m paraphrasing) rings true – they’re taking themselves for granted, things that went their way early in the season are assumed to be the case now, but they’re starting to show that they are, in fact, human.

  3. 7 goals in the RE! Had a newbe with me who is now hooked.

    Paunovic had some nice assists but as a striker should have had at least 1 goal with the 3 good chances he had.

    Terrible defending in 1st half. Looked more like a HS team. Needs major review/work.

    Good to see that at least most of their goal opportunities were converted; possibly could have had more had they occasionally not tried to walk the ball into the net.

    Great match to have been at. Could not believe all the season ticket holders who did not show up for ths match; at least gave me the opportunity to leave the parking lot in record time.

  4. Again – Migs starts a game. Again, a terrible 1st half (Yes, i know he wasn’t the total cause). But it’s now old hat. He should be playing in the Reserve game right now. Someone please explain to me how he continues to make the gameday 18?

    Nowak doesn’t give a shit about who’s in the lineup.

    Yes – it was an amazing game to be at. The crowd was electric. The SOB’s couldn’t help but be silent in the 1st half (and they were). We all were shell-shocked. I thought I was in a living nightmare.

    But, alas, the now commonplace “2nd half” hustle arrived, and we were able to salvage a point.

    I’m now also convinced that Farfan at LB (it’s now visible how much we miss Jordan Harvey) is growing worse by the game. He was totally outmanned last night and over his head (no pun intended).

    Also, and I know it was Zac’s first game at home – but he looked so scared. Never did I think the loss of Mondi would be evident that quickly.

    But in the end, we got 1 point – back in 3rd – and we need to push forward on Saturday. If Migs is in the lineup again – this time i’m asking Nowak what the hell he is smoking (and I can – b/c I sit 3 rows behind the bench).

    • While your at it ask him if he can get me some (of what he’s smoking)? I was calling for Migs to get the start yesterday as I assumed that Carroll was out hurt but IMO I think we witnessed Mig’s career end yesterday…at least I hope he sits the rest of the year.

      Bad tactics from Nowak yesterday. Two defensive mids against the worse team in the league? Cmon?! Totally allowed Revs to gain first half momentum. Right now I cant decide…Carroll or Le Toux for season MVP?

      • Two defensive mids AND two offensive mids…Nowak is losing his mind.
        I think Carroll, Mapp, Marfan, and Adu would have been the best starting midfield last night.
        Torres had a nice curler last night, but I refuse to hop on his bandwagon. I can’t understand the raucous cheers he gets when he enters a game. Sure, he had a clutch goal against the Energy Drinks, but aside from that, he dribbles into defenders and loses the ball, always tries some dinky chipped pass, and always always ALWAYS tries to make the perfect/riskiest pass instead of the sensible one. When does his loan expire again?

      • Torres was excellent last night. Excellent. Ran his tail off while others stood and watched. Tracked back and linked the defense and the offense. There’s a reason he was gassed and had to come off, he played his heart out. There have been games where he has deserved criticism, but last night was not one of them.

  5. Well, this is what happens when a team does not spend money on quality DP forwards, i.e., 9 out of 10 goal scoring opportunities do not end with a goal. I’m not sure why fans are expected to spend their money on a team that does not spend money to improve its performance. Oh Le Toux, Le Toux maybe Montreal will be good for you.

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