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Califf on the loss, Houston & LA reach final, more news

Photo: Nicolae Stoian


Danny Califf said of the Union’s long-ball tactics against Houston, “It played right into their hands. They have a couple of big center backs, and all of them, aside from Corey Ashe, are big, and along with their midfielders they eat that up.”

CSN Philly completely sidesteps the issue of Peter Nowak’s selection and tactical decisions by saying that, in losing to Houston, the Union were beaten by a better team. While this is no doubt true, a team consists of more than the players on the field. To gloss over post season coaching decisions—and, truth be told, questionable decisions were made throughout the season and as recently as the second half of the final game at PPL against Toronto, not to mention the bizarre lineup against New York in the season closer—is to do a disservice to the kind of serious analysis Union fans should both expect and deserve. For example,

“And though the lack of sustained pressure was a problem all night long for the Union, nothing was going to stop Davis. In the 42nd minute, with a set piece lined up far outside the Union box, Davis floated a picturesque pass that curled perfectly off the head of Brian Ching and through Faryd Mondragon for the goal.”

Not only does the article report the time of Davis’ cross incorrectly, the implication that Davis is some kind of unstoppable force of nature is ridiculous. One way to stop Davis is to not hand him free kicks from dangerous spots on the pitch in stoppage time. And the image of “a picturesque pass that curled perfectly off the head of Brian Ching” is itself telling: if Ching is better marked and there goes the header. So, did the zonal marking work or should the Union have stuck to man marking? The whole point of good tactical preparation and organization is to give your team the weapons to defeat your opponent’s strengths and you don’t have to be a genius to know that half the battle is decided off of the filed. (Can you tell I’m still ticked off about Thursday night’s loss?)

Kevin Kinkead has a more honest appraisal of the Union’s final playoff performance on the Union website.

WV Hooligan wastes no time getting out their list of who the Union will protect in the 2011 Expansion Draft. Kyle Nakazawa is protected, Danny Califf is not, and Keon Daniel isn’t listed anywhere.

Well, “Keon Daniel isn’t listed anywhere” isn’t strictly true, he is listed on the Trinidad & Tobago roster for the upcoming CONCACAF World Cup qualifier against Guyana.

You probably know this already, but Jack McInerney, Amobi Okugo and Sheanon Williams were called up for the nine-day USMNT U-23 Olympic qualification training camp in Germany. Well done and well deserved.


Houston topped Kansas City 2–0 to advance to the MLS Cup final. They will face Los Angeles, who defeated Real Salt Lake 3–1.

Houston will face LA without the services of Brad Davis, who suffered a right quad injury in the first half of the match against Kansas City.

Player ratings for Kansas City v Houston and LA v RSL.

Everton manager David Moyes is sending out signals that he will try to get Landon Donovan on loan again.


The La Salle women’s team, unbeaten the entire season, lost for the first time on Friday, falling 1–0 to Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the loss happened in the Atlantic 10 semifinals. The No. 23 ranked La Salle is nevertheless likely to get a good seed when the the 64 teams selected to play in the NCAA Championship tournament are announced later today.

The La Salle men’s team secured a playoff berth with a 4–0 win over St. Joseph’s on Sunday. Temple won a berth on Saturday based on other results before losing to conference champion Fordham 1–0 in double overtime.

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Penn women’s team has announced its All-Team list.

The Pennridge girls’ team won the District 1 Class AAA championship on Saturday with a 1–0 overtime victory over Council Rock North. The team had made it to the final the last two years without securing the title.

Cherokee won the South Jersey Soccer Coaches Association Tournament final with a 1–0 win over Timber Creek on Saturday. Lenape won the girls’ title with a 4–1 win over previously unbeaten Haddonfield.

On Friday, Shipley won its fifth Friends Schools League title in seven years by defeating Westtown 3–0.


Soccer America has part two of their interview with Jurgen Klinsmann. You can read part one here.


  1. Earl Gardner says:

    I don’t get Califf not being protected from the WV piece. If he was to go, I would really lose my shit. Him and Seba are the cornerstones for this team. I hope he retires here when the time comes.

  2. The header went “through Faryd Mondragon”? That’s amazing!! I knew Houston was good, but not _THAT_ good. I stopped reading WVHooligan, along with many other soccer blogs (present company excluded) because their “expertise” in these matters is nothing more than scientific wild-ass guesses.

  3. The protected list, besides Califf looks good to me. I HOPE they take Mapp. MY only issue with listing Califf is who will replace him? I wouldn’t mind that if this was any other team … but they already refused to go sign a LB once and play half a season with a midfielder at LB so I am worried about our Plan B at CB.

  4. Div 3 bracket should come out today. See more at: http://www.ncaa.com/sports/soccer-men/d3

    You got to give it to the Houston defense who had another shutout, and unsung and underpaid hero Magee who is banging them in for LA.

  5. Califf can go. Looked slow against Houston and would def free up some cash. Also it should be recognized that Valdes made Califf better.

    Too much focus is being put on Nowak’s decision making. While he obviously made poor coaching choices, we also do not have the midfield talent to compete against a Houston caliber team. We need a stronger faster and more physical midfield…

    • We were 1-0-1 against Houston this season, and they tied it in the 85th in the game in Philly. I’d argue that’s a competitive record.

      • You are correct! But we played them four times and went 1-2-1…losing twice when it mattered the most…by 3-1…I wanna get better not settle for what we got now. That means getting new players and losing current players (even if they are fan favorites..i.e. Salinas).

    • I completely disagree that we do not have the midfield talent to compete with Houston. Did we in the playoffs? No way. But I don’t want anyone to underestimate the negative effects of Nowaks coaching decisions on these players and their ability to grow and develop.

      Also Los, if you read the match report there are basically paragraphs of tactical analysis telling us why our midfield did not exist, and the conclusion isn’t that out players arent any good.

      In fact it’s pretty much impossible to put too much focus on Nowaks decision making. Not only did he totally mess up in the playoffs, but what he did during the whole regular season was messing the team up in terms of consistency and being able to grow as well.

  6. Our midfield is weak. I’d be fine if they let everybody but Carroll, Torres and Marfan go (and Le Toux if he counts as a Mid). Yeah Nowak messed up, I get it but still does not take away from the fact that we are lacking midfield talent.

    • I don’t necessarily disagree with that but at the same time that’s 3 out of the 4 (usually) midfield spots locked down with good talent and that’s pretty darn good for a second year team isn’t it?

      I know it’s early, but I am thinking about a Garfan – Torres – Carrol – Farfan midfield starting out next year. Adu needs to show me something to earn a starting spot (though of course Nowak will give him one no matter how badly he looks), I am of course assuming we get a real LB, and Okugo can be our second half sub when we need to see out a game.

      • Its also 3 (4) of 12 (13) mids listed on our roster (Le Toux is more of a Forward to me)…also, I think we have seen the end of Daniel in the blue and gold. You gotta think that the U or MLS coulda had whatever issue with him happened resoved by now…

  7. That Hooligan article is laughable. Califf is a thug?? Huh?

    And Naka, while popular with the ladies of the SOB – is another Zimmerman. Dime a dozen. Let’s find something better.

  8. Union need to protect Califf unless the plan is to play Migs as central defender all next year or they think Tait will be able to step in. While Kyle is an option to leave unprotected, what about the possibiliity of leaving Adu unprotected? With his high salary he might not get taken and if he does, maybe you can look to make a trade to get him back. (If we lose Adu, offer Houpau, Mapp, and Holder for him.)

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