Featured / Union match reports

Match report: Union 0-0 Whitecaps

Photo: Earl Gardner

In drawing 0-0 with the Vancouver Whitecaps at PPL Park on Saturday, the Union earned their first point of the season, though they will lament a series of missed opportunities to take all three points in a tightly contested match.

All the pregame chatter focused around the return of former Union striker Sebastien Le Toux, especially as questions about who will score the goals for the 2012 Union remain unanswered. Not that Vancouver’s offense is running on all cylinders, with the Whitecaps having only three goals from their opening three matches.

In this tight and cagey affair, a goalless draw may have always been in the cards from the start. Rookie first round draft pick Chandler Hoffman earned his debut for the Union, but could not provide the offensive spark required to kickstart the Union attack. And while it was no victory, Zac MacMath and the Union defense will take confidence from their first clean sheet of the season.

First Half

With Danny Califf restored to the starting lineup, coach Peter Nowak returned to a four-man back line, with Porfirio Lopez again preferred at left back despite a rough opening to his Union career over the first three matches. In the midfield, following a strong second half display in Chicago, Gabriel Farfan took over for his brother on the right flank.

When the match kicked off, though, it became clear that the Union would not conform to a traditional 4-4-2 alignment. Rather than deploy Hoffman in his regular striking role, Nowak elected to begin with the debutant wide on the left. Keon Daniel joined Brian Carroll and Gabriel Gomez in the center of the park as the Union looked to take control Vancouver’s playmakers.

The Whitecaps were without the influential Camilo Sanvezzo. A fixture of the Whitecaps and a dangerous partner for Davide Chiumiento, Sanvezzo joined regular starters Eric Hassli and Alain Rochat on the sidelines with injuries, the latter providing an opportunity for Jordan Harvey to earn a start against his former club.

With all the pressure on the Union to take their first three points of the season, the first half failed to live up to the pre-match hype. Zac MacMath bested Le Toux for the first half’s single highlight. Flying off his line as the Whitecaps’ danger man sliced through the Union defense in the 15th minute, MacMath got to the ball before Le Toux was able to make his final move around the Union keeper, who was sharp and aggressive off his line all night.

Chiumiento attempted to shoulder the entirety of the creative load for the Caps, but Carlos Valdes and Danny Califf had Le Toux and strike partner Atiba Harris well marshaled, limiting Chiumiento’s influence.

Despite their numeric advantage in midfield, the Union struggled to turn positive spells of possession into goal-scoring opportunities. Lionard Pajoy was thoroughly neutralized by Jay DeMerit, and Martin Bonjour prevented Chandler from influencing proceedings from his wide position.

As the match wore towards half, the Union shifted formation into the 4-4-2 most expected upon seeing the starting XI, allowing Hoffman to roam higher up the pitch. While his speed and movement asked more questions of the Whitecaps’ defense, the Union failed to trouble Joe Cannon before the interval, failing to record a shot on goal in the first 45 minutes.

Second Half

With Porfirio Lopez again proving ineffective, Michael Farfan entered the match and immediately helped the Union to find their attacking feet.

A string of attempts early in the second half nearly had the Union in front. First, Valdes nodded Keon Daniel’s corner against the post, and then Brian Carroll missed a gilt-edged opportunity.

Ghosting toward the back post, Carroll received an inch-perfect lofted cross from Gabriel Gomez, but with the goal gaping, Carroll failed to get any weight behind his shot. Cannon was able to scramble across and smother the effort.

With Michael Farfan and Keon Daniel moving the ball well and threatening to overrun Vancouver’s defense, the Union were comfortably on the front foot, yet the final touch continued to be lacking.

In the 76th minute, the Union would again spurn an excellent chance to nose into the lead. This time, Danny Califf beat Cannon to another corner whipped in by Keon Daniel, only to send his powerful header sailing over the bar, with the empty net at his mercy.

With the Union committing more and more numbers into the pursuit of a matchwinner, they were nearly made to pay as Le Toux once more carved through the Union defense. Racing beyond Carlos Valdes, MacMath again dashed off his line, forcing Le Toux into a difficult chip which flew harmlessly over the crossbar.

Danny Mwanga entered with five minutes to go as the Union continued to pour forward but could find no holes through DeMerit and Bonjour. In the end, Vancouver wrapped up their fourth clean sheet in as many matches.

For the Union, they head into the bye week buoyed by an improved performance and their first point, but still lacking in offensive potency and well aware of the work still to be done.

Philadelphia Union

Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Porfirio Lopez (Michael Farfan ’45); Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel (Danny Mwanga ’86), Gabriel Gomez, Gabriel Farfan; Chandler Hoffman (Jack McInerney ’51), Lionard Pajoy

Unused Substitutes: Amobi Okugo, Chase Harrison, Josue Martinez, Chris Albright

Vancouver Whitecaps

Joe Cannon; Lee Young-Pyo, Martin Bonjour, Jay DeMerit, Jordan Harvey; Jun Davidson, Matt Watson, John Thorrington (Gershon Koffie ’59), Davide Chiumiento; Sebastien Le Toux, Atiba Harris (Long Tan ’70)

Unused Substitutes: Floyd Franks, Carlyle Mitchell, Brad Knighton, Greg Klazura, Omar Salgado


  1. Where was torres???????????

  2. So we sold Le Toux to afford to buy Torres, Lopez, Martinez and Gomez. Gomez is the only one of these to make any lick of difference. Roger not even dressing today?? How about some creativity in the midfield? Adu will just continue to misfire on passes and do that “apology left hand wave” or the “hands outstretched what were you doing” gesture. If Roger is not fit or talented to crack the top 18, we are in for a long season…

  3. I think the game was lost when Nowak put out the lineup card. By putting Chandler Hoffman in the line up as yet another stop in Nowaks zer0 chemistry tour ’12 we didn’t have the sub we needed to get Roger Torres in the game when we needed him.

    20 minutes to go and you need that last push to get us over the hump is Torres specialty and he wasn’t available because we had to fix initial lineup mistakes.

    • The Fake Peter Nowak says:

      You do not understand. All players are interchangable. I am the difference between success and failure.

      Hoffman is just like LeToux. See. I showed you.

  4. no wak mu st g o says:

    there is nothing wrong with torres no injury he trained hard all week…..nowak hates him…nowak must go..

  5. The result is unacceptable. However, the Union did play some of the most coherent soccer in their history.

    This was the best game from the Union this season. No doubt. Both teams played well. Whether or not this is because two sub-par teams where playing against each other remains to be seen. Probably a little bit of both, good game play between two equally matched teams (equally bad teams).

    In any case, we should have won. There are signs of progress, how real it is and how much of it there is will be seen in two weeks.

    If things don’t turn around in the next two or three games Nowak has to be removed to save the season. Otherwise, the season is lost.

    Certainly, if the Union continues to loose the front office may find that the seats are not being filled and the people are not tuning into the game broadcasts.

  6. The Black Hand says:

    Not all bad. Lopez appears to have played himself out of starting xi. That’s good. Defense and MacMath got clean sheet. Letoux didn’t score. We didn’t lose. The glass is half full.

    • Agree. Lopez gives the ball away too much. Garfan needs to be re-inserted as the starter at LB and we should play 4 at the back. I’m fine with Nowak juggling things up front until he finds the right formula but our D has been our strength.

  7. We needed to start our best strikers.
    Torres’s creativity was also badly needed.
    The place looked it had a lot of empty seats, they better get going soon.

  8. Even when we end up looking decent and like we maybe even could have won, Nowak still rears his head. Hoffman? What a great way to basically play with 10 men in the first half. No Torres? What a great way to ignore our biggest need of a midfielder to link our attack to our forwards.
    Also, we really need to stop playing Gomez and Carrol to together. They both do the same thing.

    • Section 116 says:

      Hoffman looked quite useful in the 15 minutes or so he was playing forward, and he could be a great player to run off of a holding big guy such as Pajoy (or who Nowak wants Mwanga to be).

      That raises four issues.

      First, he is not a left midfielder. In teh first 30 minutes, he protected about 10 square meters of turf exceptionally well and every time the ball went in to him, he simply turned and fired it back to Lopez or Daniel behind him.

      Second, McInerney is finally coming into his own in this role, and Mwanga plays it well. Why mess around looking for our third or fourth option at this spot.

      Third, is stinking him out wide really the ideal way to develop a player who was one of the top candidates entering the draft and has a nose for goal?

      Fourth, Lopez is a lost cause and he clearly hampered the ability of the guys in front of him because he has an inability to play a ball into space. Not that Hoffman gave him much to look for.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I agree with you that Hoffman looked better when Nowak switched the formations, but overall he didn’t do much. I didn’t see the Jack Mac that you saw. The guy I saw was giving the ball away at every chance he had. When he was not coughing up the ball, he was running around (granted, very quickly) like a chicken that had it’s head cut off. He is very young and does not have the ability to play large portions of games. His speed could be useful coming in very late in games to try and catch a tired defense sleeping. Aside from that, we have much better options in Mwanga, Pajoy and Martinez. I, wholeheartedly, agree that Lopez is of no use in our starting XI.

      • This report will encourage you to look at the competitive dynamics inside interior product manufacturing and retail sectorsThe Italian interior products industry struggled to be afloat a result of the numerous hurdles faced through the review period. This is a lost price competitiveness at the domestic and global markets because of a stronger euro, particularly in 2008, and cheaper imports from China. Further, factors which includes a maturing population, low disposable income and smaller households made increase in the sales of interior products stagnant.

      • The District Attorney’s Office has filed charges against Newell, alleging that from February through April, Newell was in possessing stolen property which had been obtained by extortion from your capital of scotland- Fortuna’s Depot Museum. Newell has pleaded harmless to your charges, and awaits a pretrial hearing May 24. As outlined by information through the District Attorney’s Office, the two charges have been reduced from felonies to misdemeanors.

    • The Black Hand says:

      I didnt mind Hoffman starting. A manager should make changes to get something going. Granted, it didn’t work. Hoffman provided nothing for us. My major problem with Nowak was the fact that he ignored our strength (backs from last year). I think the great Nowak can now see that that was a mistake…maybe. God I hope so. Removing Lopez was a strong decision and it gave us our first look at a strong back line (zero shots on goal). Finally, we have something to wok with. Next up…midfield. Yikes! Gomez and Carrol playing the same position is not working. It is essentially leaving us with three in the midfield. I think we should explore trading Carrol (too many DCM’s and would free up some cash) and go with an attacking midfielder formation (a place where Torres/Adu could fit). Up front, we need some help. Jack Mac looked bad. He should be a reserve or very late (85th+) sub. His speed could be nice very late in the game. I think our lack of quality in midfield has limited the other strikers. A look at Martinez and pejoy together could be nice, with Danny coming off the bench. I don’t know. All that matters is that we got a point and have something to build off of. DOOP

  9. McMohansky says:

    The fact that the match report didn’t even mention Jack Mac tells us something about his impact in 40′ of play.

  10. I’m pretty excited by what I saw yesterday. There’s obviously some negative stuff, mainly:

    1 – The original lineup decision. We only played with anything approximating our best XI for 35 minutes. That’s a major problem.
    2 – Brian Carroll is awesome, but he’s a tactical sub. There’s nothing he does that Gomez (and probably Okugo) don’t do better. I would hope that going forward his spot is taken by Adu or Torres.

    That said, a lot of good out there. The lineup we had for those 35 minutes was, if we’re going to play Carroll, the best we could have.
    Very happy to see Marfan and Sheanon playing well together.
    EXTREMELY excited to see Fropez taken off and Garfan in his rightful spot. Now if we can send him to JuanDiegoGonzalezville, I’ll be happy.
    I like the Pajoy/JackMac combo. Arguably our two best strikers (still too early to judge Martinez) I think they compliment each other well. Would like it if the players stopped thinking Pajoy was a speedster who will get to every ball.
    Gomez is just nothing but kickassedness. LOVE that guy.
    How much of a beast was Zac MacMath yesterday?

    I think we’re going to look back on today as a huge turning point in the season.

  11. We drew at home against a team that (1) we beat last year, and (2) who was missing three of their better players (Hassli, Camilo, and Rochat). Yes, for once we didn’t lose, but are we supposed to be pacified by this? I’m not.

    • No, not pacified. It was their best performance this season, however. In any case, the next two games will be critical in determining whether or not they are really begining to play well.

      • It was their best performance only because they have been so dismal in the first three games. Last year we would all be furious with a home draw like this. This year, everyone seems to be loving it. Have things really gotten this bad, this fast?

  12. Case in point about Carrol: his horrible muffed touch on Gomez BEAUTIFUL cross. I mean, it was beyond a bad touch. It was embarrassing, and totally cost us a goal. This shows why we don’t need both Carrol and Gomez on the field. Not only is Gomez capable of doing things like that on offense and still be as good as Carrol on defense, but ANYONE else in that midfield spot would have put it away.
    There simply isn’t a place for Carrol on this team anymore. And with touches like that, we are starting to see Carrol create a negative impact in games as well now.

    • YES. Carroll is a dinosaur of the old MLS, sorry folks but no matter how oftern the announcers drop the stat that he always goes to the playoffs with his team he is officially irrelevant. Gomez is better and in the rare case that he needs a blow, Okugo needs development and can also be brought into a more defensive midfield to protect leads. To some weak teams around the league Carroll might still be an asset. Dump him and look to reinforce the defense.

  13. Garfan in for Lopez. Marfan for Garfan. Adu for Carroll. Mwanga/Martinez/Mac for Hoff. We would actually be good.

  14. PhillyHotSpur says:

    The biggest positive –> ZacAttack. A monster game and lets hope we build off it.

    The biggest negative –> Nowak and his terrible 4-2-2-2.
    Gomez and Carroll occupying the same space (Carroll should not be starting) w/ zero service thru the middle to our FL………it makes no sense and were reducing to playing long ball.

    4-1-3-2 and simply start a creative CM in the middle of the pitch…..

    • Richie The Limey says:

      4-1-3-2 will give us no width (again). You have to see that the midfielders are all too crowded together because nobody wants to take responsibility for attacking. Even with Marfan in there was precious little service for the forwards because we had no outlet (again) to move the ball from the back.

      Last season one of our most successful attacking weapons was Williams bombing up, overlapping and providing crosses in to the box / creating an overload that freed up Mapp / LeToux / Marfan. Right now the pace of our attacking play is so slooooooooow that it is very easy to defend against. We made their defenders look like the Arsenal back four of Adams, Bould, Dixon, and Winterburn instead of the MLS scrubs that they are. That AFC reference was just for you, Hotspur !

  15. Match report: Union 0-0 Whitecaps pig http://www.japan-guide.com/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *