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End of the season quick guide

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Three games remaining.

As the Union prepares to complete its season, we thought it would be helpful to share a kind of quick reference to how the Union did against its remaining opponents earlier in the season. Below are the match stats from those previous encounters plus scoring summaries, highlights from our match reports, analysis and player ratings, as well as video from each match. Feel free to impress your friends with insightful references and remembrances of what the Union and their opponents did when they first met this season.

Philadelphia Union at Seattle Sounders, Saturday, October 8 (10pm, CSN)

Previous meeting: April 16

Result: 1-1 draw

Scoring summary: PHI—Carlos Ruiz (Unassisted) 32’; SEA—Alvaro Fernandez (Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani) 91’

All-time record: 1–1–1

PSP match report highlight:

“Philadelphia controlled much of the play for the opening half hour, and it was the young duo of Okugo and Nakazawa who joined Daniel in showing poise and patience on the ball. It was Nakazawa who confidently ran at the defense in the 31st minute, beating one man and cutting onto his left foot before earning a foul just outside the box.

“Carlos Ruiz stepped up to the free kick 25 yards from goal and, with the spin of a seasoned politician, clubbed the ball into the back of Keller’s net.

“It should have been the crowning moment of the Union’s best 90 of the season. But a late defensive lapse allowed Seattle to steal a split of the points and deal a blow to the Union’s stout defense.”

PSP analysis and player Ratings highlight:

“There are definite positives to take away from Saturday’s tie. Possession numbers were up while kick-and-chase was used as a last resort rather than a plan of action. Passes were completed in bunches instead of frustrating pairs. The young midfielders played well.

“But if the opponents are confused by the Union’s defense, the fans are equally baffled by the absentee offense.”

Philadelphia Union v Toronto FC, Saturday, October 15 (4pm, CSN)

Previous meeting: May 28

Result: 6–2 win

Scoring summary: PHI—Gabriel Farfan (Jordan Harvey ) 3′, Justin Mapp (Kyle Nakazawa ) 11′, Kyle Nakazawa (Danny Mwanga , Sebastien Le Toux ) 44′, Justin Mapp (unassisted) 62′, Danny Mwanga (Sebastien Le Toux ) 72′, Danny Mwanga (unassisted) 89′; TOR—Maicon Santos (Danleigh Borman) 50′, Maicon Santos (Danleigh Borman) 59′.

All-time record: 2–1–0

PSP match report highlight:

“The Union scored six goals against a hapless Toronto FC defense, with Justin Mapp and Danny Mwanga both netting braces. Gabe Farfan opened his account in the 2nd minute and nine minutes later Mapp doubled the lead. Kyle Nakazawa added another before the half was out, but Toronto cut the lead to one early after the break.

“It was Mapp again to make it 4-2, then a pair of Mwanga goals helped the Union pull away late.

“There was constant confusion in the Toronto back line, and when Dan Gargan misjudged a Jordan Harvey cross it was a simple task for Gabe Farfan to gather the ball at the penalty spot and finish low to the left of Stefan Frei…

“It was a dominant performance, but the fifteen minutes of guileless defending to start the second half will worry Nowak and Hackworth.”

PSP analysis and player ratings highlight:

“All season the Union have used their stellar defensive shape to force the opposition to play long or into the feet of tightly marked strikers. While this has been an incredibly effective strategy, it has meant the team has to build their offense from the back. Winning the ball deep and playing it from back to front to generate chances. The other option, a quick-strike transition game, requires an offensive cohesion that the Union haven’t shown on their best day.

“On Saturday, a new pattern emerged. High, smart pressure (i.e. both strikers working together) forced Toronto to play risky central passes. Mapp, Naka and Carroll stepped into lanes and won the ball back high up the pitch, jumpstarting the offense…

“But the first fifteen minutes of the second half were less about the TFC adjustments than about the Union shutting down mentally. The hallmark of this squad’s defensive success has been the ability to keep play in wide areas. Nobody breaks through the middle. Nobody dribbles at Valdes and Califf alone.

“Early in the second half, Philadelphia’s defenders allowed Toronto to dribble into the middle and to play with space. If Maicon Santos wants to dribble all the way to the New York border, fine. But he can do it out by the touchline. Jordan Harvey ushering the powerful (if lazy) striker into the center of the pitch should have been the warning shot that the team needed. It was not, and suddenly a three goal lead vanished.”

New York Red Bulls v Philadelphia Union, Thursday, October 20 (8pm, ESPN2)

Previous meeting: April 9

Result: 1–0 win

Scoring Summary: PHI—Roger Torres (Danny Mwanga) 68′

All-time record: 2–1–0

PSP match report highlight:

“Mwanga stepped into the middle and pushed Daniel wide. For those who remember Mwanga’s poor turn as a midfielder against Seattle in 2010, it was a questionable substitution. But on this night, Nowak was playing chess while Backe played checkers.

“Mwanga used his considerable strength to hold the ball in the midfield, providing the type of time the Union needed to break out of defense as a unit…

“Le Toux’s pressure on the right forced Roy Miller to play a pass inside to Tim Ream. The talented US International tried to keep the ball moving, but his left-footed pass to Marquez instead found Mwanga and the striker headed straight for net. Ream took out Mwanga’s ankles but Roger Torres ran onto the loose ball and, with his first touch of the game, blasted the finish near post.

“Torres and Mwanga would dominate the remaining twenty minutes. Torres moved the ball with speed and purpose, rarely indulging his penchant for dribbling or lofting hopeful balls over the top.”

PSP analysis and player ratings highlight:

“After his team shut down the highly rated offense of the rival New York Red Bulls, Peter Nowak was asked whether he was worried by the low number of chances his offense created.

“Nowak always looks less than thrilled to be dealing with the media, and he smiled like the cat that caught the canary and responded with a question of his own. ‘Let me ask you this, what is the difference if you win 5-0 or 1-0?’

“Luck, fate, four-leaf clovers… Nowak doesn’t care what it looks like as long as it adds up to three points…

“The past two weeks, Union fans have suffered through cloying praise of two over-the-hill superstars who once ruled the soccer world. Apparently nobody told the soccer world that Philly’s first two picks in the 2010 draft – and a microscopic Colombian playmaker – would be laying down a marker on the future.”

 

 

2 Comments

  1. If history repeats itself…we win the east. Im hoping for at least 4 points from remaining 3 games.

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