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Match Report: Union 0-1 Sounders

The last time the Union traveled to Seattle to take on the Sounders, they ran out 2-0 winners at CenturyLink Field. On Saturday afternoon, there would be no repeat performance. The Union never looked like scoring, and Seattle walked away with a comfortable 1-0 win.

Mauro Rosales put the hosts ahead in the 63rd minute, and the Sounders easily could have had more were it not for two balls off the wood work and some sharp goalkeeping from Zac MacMath. In the end, the Union could only muster one shot on goal: A weak, rolling effort that failed to trouble Bryan Meredith, who, was never bothered as he recorded a shutout in his first MLS start.

First Half

Returning from his one-game suspension, Keon Daniel rejoined the starting lineup in place of Amobi Okugo, pushing Kai Herdling up top to provide more support for Lionard Pajoy. This meant that Gabriel Gomez dropped into the defensive midfield slot. Defensively, rookie Ray Gaddis swapped places with Sheanon Williams, moving to left fullback for the first time as a pro and facing off with Seattle’s captain and playmaker, Rosales.

Coming off of a midweek victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid rang the changes, resting 3/4 of his backline in Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Zach Scott and Leo Gonzalez. Additionally, goalkeeper Bryan Meredith made his first MLS start, replacing the injured Michael Gspurning. Andy Rose debuted in the midfield for the Sounders, pushing David Estrada up top in place of Eddie Johnson, who was also rested.

With all the changes for the Sounders and a more attacking look from Philadelphia, Union fans would have expected an aggressive showing from their side, but it was Seattle who seized the early ascendancy, with Gaddis forced to clear Fredy Montero’s shot off the line in the 7th minute. Carrying over from their 2-1 defeat at the hands of San Jose, the Union midfield failed to control the center of the pitch, and Gabriel Gomez and Michael Farfan were never on the same page. With both players delaying on the ball, Seattle found it easy to defend the middle of the park, and Osvaldo Alonso repeatedly dispossessed the Union’s central midfielders with alarming ease.

The Union’s struggles were not limited to the midfield, however, with Lionard Pajoy failing to make inroads against Jeff Parke and Patrick Ianni. Meanwhile, Kai Herdling continued to drop deeper and deeper to help out on defense and try to get on the ball. The Union were left to try their luck from set pieces. But whether it was Adu or Gomez, neither was able to create any magic, and the majority of their efforts failed to beat the first defender.

The Union nearly went up a man in the 30th minute when Andy Rose, already carrying a yellow card for a bad tackle on Michael Farfan, should have been given his walking papers from referee Ricardo Salazar when he cut down Freddy Adu from behind. Somehow though, Salazar failed to show the debutante his second yellow, and Seattle was let off the hook.

Second Half

Despite the dearth of offensive chances in the first half, neither side made any halftime changes. As in the first half, Seattle came out the fastest, with Rose nearly breaking the deadlock in the 47th minute. Mauro Rosales’ corner kick was on the mark for Rose who, with Keon Daniel rooted to the ground, powered a header off of the crossbar before Zac MacMath could react.

It was the best chance of the match, and the Sounders looked intent on creating the opener while the Union continued to lack drive and chemistry through the midfield. Still trying to adjust to MLS, Kai Herdling, worked hard throughout the match but still could not connect with his teammates. Not that any of the Union midfielders looked capable of creating an opening in a match where all four preferred to go it alone, looking for the one sensational ball rather than seeking out possession and territory as a unit.

With the Union pressing their fullbacks higher and higher up the pitch, Seattle nearly had the breakthrough when Andy Rose slipped into the box. But he elected to look for Rosales rather than have a go himself, and the chance went begging.

Minutes later, Fredy Montero nearly found the back of the net with Rosales setting the table, but the curving effort went just wide of MacMath’s far post.

With Seattle pushing for the opener, Sigi Schmid brought Eddie Johnson into the game. John Hackworth replied by strengthening his defense, removing Herdling for Brian Carroll.

Schmid immediately got the better of the move as Seattle dragged the entire Union defense to the right flank in the 63rd minute. Montero, spotting the run of Rosales on the opposite wing, delivered a cross field ball into the Argentine’s path. With all day to decide on his finish, he powered a low shot past a helpless MacMath.

There would be no reply from the Union, as Seattle continued to pour on the pressure. First it was David Estrada’s driving run that should have resulted in a goal-scoring effort. Minutes later, it was Montero who forced a diving save from MacMath. Despite doing well to get his hands to the rasping shot, the Union keeper spilled the rebound into the path of the onrushing Eddie Johnson, but the striker was flagged for offsides.

In the 76th minute, John Hackworth finally made the offensive substitution the Union craved, bringing Danny Mwanga into the match for the ineffective Michael Farfan. Seven minutes later, Josue Martinez would also enter the fray for Gabriel Gomez, but not before the Panamanian earned his fourth yellow card of the season, meaning he is one away from a mandatory suspension.

Despite the offensive nature of these substitutions, it was Seattle who had the best chance of the final minutes as Montero, a constant thorn in the Union’s side throughout, was able to turn at the top of the box and lift a delicate, curling shot that clipped MacMath’s cross bar.

With the Union out of ideas, Seattle saw out the final minutes without concern, winning their fourth straight match. After having recorded their first two victories of the campaign, the Union have since lost their last two and only scored 5 goals in 8 matches in the 2012 season.

Philadelphia Union

Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdés, Raymon Gaddis; Gabriel Gomez (Josué Martinez ’83), Keon Daniel, Kai Herdling (Brian Carroll ’61), Michael Farfan (Danny Mwanga ’76), Freddy Adu; Lionard Pajoy

Unused Substitutes: Chase Harrison, Porfirio Lopez, Amobi Okugo, Cristhian Hernandez

Seattle Sounders

Bryan Meredith; Marc Burch, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, Adam Johansson; Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose (Eddie Johnson ’61), Mauro Rosales (Leo Gonzalez ’82), Alex Caskey (Servando Carrasco ’89); Fredy Montero, David Estrada

Unused Substitutes: Andrew Weber, Zach Scott, Cordell Cato, Sammy Ochoa


Ricardo Salazar

Scoring Summary

63 – Seattle: Mauro Rosales (Fredy Montero)

Misconduct Summary

18 – Seattle: Andy Ross (Caution)

78 – Philadelphia: Gabriel Gomez (Caution)



  1. Adam Cann says:

    It’s hard to imagine a team that is not lacking in talent offering so little going forward for 90 minutes. Stunning stuff.

  2. no wak mu st g o says:

    its getting harder and harder to watch this team play… We create nothing at all.. we score so little that we are on pace to become the worst attacking team in all of mls ever.. We have taken less that 2 shots 3 times this year….it may be time to move on the staff and bring in some new blood.

  3. Ooooooooh!!! ZacMacMath was SHAARP!!!! Just kidding. At his peak… he’s average. and at his average… he’s well-below average.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      I don’t understand. Are you pinning the loss on MacMath? Giving up one goal when Rosales had a free run in, not sure how you find fault in that?

      • no. not pinning this loss on him. Some earlier losses in the year. Definitely. But the article said he was SHARP!!! He was average this game. He was a bit out of position on the goal, but I wouldn’t blame him for it when Rosales is all alone. But MacMath certainly didn’t do anything in this game to make himself a bright spot. he almost gifted Eddie Johnson a goal by parrying a shot right back in front of the goal, which he has done more than a couple of times this season. MacMath was average today, not SHARP!!

      • Adam Cann says:

        So at his peak Zac MacMath is an average MLS goalie? That peak is an assumption, right? Since nobody really thinks we’ve seen it yet. It is interesting to ask where MacMath ranks among MLS goalies, but we’ve seen almost a full season of below-average goalkeeping in Philly and it certainly appears MacMath is well above that level. And let’s not forget that even if he parried that ball back, he also made the second save off Johnson’s feet. An above-average save, at that.

      • No. That peak is based on his current and past form. The peak of what he have seen of him up to this point. Has there been a worse goal given up this year in MLS than the one he gave up to Portland in the opening game? You’re saying I can’t judge the peak because nobody’s seen it. I’m saying… look at all of his form that we’ve ever seen… the peak of that… is an average MLS goalkeeper.

        And sorry, you don’t get points for making stupid mistakes and then getting fortunate that they didn’t blow up in your face. That poor save to Eddie Johnson’s feet was absolutely not a positive thing as you’re trying to make it out to be. And if he saves that 2nd ball 50% or 75% of the time.. you’re still giving up more goals that you should be because the other 25%-50% of the time that you don’t make that save… you’ve given away a goal.

  4. MacMAth was the only one who looked like he belonged on an MLS team today.
    This staff HAS got to be feeling the heat soon. When is it going to be vouge to start calling for Nowaks head? Surely this cant go on much longer? Surely people will realize a team with this kind of talent is playing below their ability.

    • Lol. Get real. MacMath was as average as everyone else. What did he do? He had one good moment of distribution…. pretty much that’s the only good thing he did. Listening to amateurs try and rate goalkeeping is hilarious. Everyone likes MacMath because they have no idea what real expectations of a goalkeeper are. As long as he doesn’t throw the ball into the back of the net like he was doing earlier this season… they’re happy.

      • Amateurs? I’m so sorry that those of us who disagree with your opinion didn’t realize that that alone was evidence of our staggering ignorance. We can only hope a professional like yourself will forgive our transgressions. Please let me know where I can pick up one of your jerseys. Although I can’t seem to remember which team you play for, I do look forward to seeing you play as an MLS All Star at PPL in July. If you can’t defend your opinion without insulting people, maybe you should keep it to yourself. Perhaps we “have no idea what real expectations of a goalkeeper are” but we do have an idea what real expectations for a tool are. Congratulations. Consider those expectations met.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Absolute opinionated Prick. Week after week. Your knowledge of the game is not as deep as you believe. There are times that you make some decent points. Unfortunately, they are usually overshadowed by the fact that you think that you are omniscient. Congratulations, you are able to distinguish that the MLS is not on par with world class football. Thanks for setting us straight.

      • Dan Walsh says:

        Donovan, you can disagree all you like. You’re entitled to your own opinions. That’s the point of our Comments section, for readers to share their views.

        But if you don’t lose the consistently nasty condescension, you won’t be welcome on PSP. Consider this your yellow card, Donovan.

      • Typical. Kid probably plays/played goalkeeper in high school and thinks he has to prove that he knows more than everyone else by ragging on MacMath.

  5. philsoc8 says:

    Is there anyone on this team that’s a complete player? For example, Marfan, Daniel, Gomez and Adu have great skills but no engine. Mwanga has all the tools but lacks aggressiveness or positioning. Califf has positioning but no wheels. Etc, etc, etc.

    They’ve got to start playing Josue to see what, if anything, he can do. Otherwise why is he here? I think we’ve seen enough Pajoy to last a lifetime.

    Really think it’s time for Nowak to go. At what point does he become accountable for the team he’s assembled?

  6. Agree as to the post regarding Nowak. Certainly we don’t want to start playing musical chairs with coaches but Nowak has had three years with little to show for it. Sometimes I think he is asking these guys to play more sophisticated soccer then they are capable off. However that’s not really the case. We got more talent on the field than ever. Its the coaching staff. Time to see what a new manager can do.

    Also pakoy is doing hid best under the circumstances. He needs support.

  7. We have taken such a massive step backward from last year, and while painful to watch enough on its own, it is doubly frustrating because the reasons why are so glaring. I’m not going to get into all that because it’s been said a million times by pretty much all of us (kicking Seba to the curb, that joke of a preseason, Slopez, Pajoy does sweet FA while Mwanga rots on the bench, the empty bucket, etc.), but I will bring up one point…if we continue to stink, how long before the players start tuning out the manager? Or, worse, how many players start thinking “I want to play somewhere else”?

    Take Danny Mwanga for instance, by all accounts a solid young man with a good head on his shoulders. Though he’s unlikely to say anything outwardly on the subject, any rational person in his situation is going be saying to himself “You know what? Maybe this is not the right situation for me to develop my game and my career.” And what happens when those kinds of thoughts start creeping into the minds of the young talented players who are actually playing, e.g. Marfan?

    Something is going to give one way or the other here.

    • Gordon Thompson says:

      Lack of connection and communication comes from the coach. Mwanga can’t complain. Anyone who questions, is likely to have a Calif “injury” putting them on the bench. Hope formation 4-4-2 can be tried with two forwards who are not slowest forward on team and a German midfielder. Only times Pajoy showed burst of speed, he was chasing a ball he gave away or running offsides.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      How long before it happens? Maybe it already has. We’re three seasons in. Nowak lasted three seasons in each of his prior coaching jobs. These are different circumstances, because he built this from scratch and therefore has more invested in it, but he’s probably getting more wide-scale criticism than he’s ever gotten before.

  8. DarthLos117 says:

    Our “A” team lost to “B” team today. Sad.

    • Seriously. You’re right. It stings. Seattle’s offense toyed with us today. We looked like we were playing 10 versus 11 most of the game. Varsity schooling the JV. At one point in the second half I swear I thought about the Harlem Globetrotters versus the Washington Generals. And I love the Union as much as anyone. Just being honest!

    • I agree, seatle didnt even resoect our offense enough to start the starters in the back and gave a rookie a chance in goal

      • *respect* sorry

      • The Black Hand says:

        Seattle manager made a smart move. He rested his starters, so they could recover from the midweek match against L.A. He recognized that we are not a threatening team. It’s sad, but true. Even against a second string of defenders, we were not able to put together any sort of an attack. Our play is sloppy and inconsistent. I, really, thought we were going to move away from Lionard, but he seems firmly rooted in our starting XI.

  9. Discouraging loss. Again. Shots on goal? Agree with Gordon that hopefully switching to 2 strikers (neither of which is named Pajoy or Herdling) will allow us to generate more scoring chances. Let’s try Josue and Mwanga up top for 3 consecutive games and worst case we’ll have a better idea of their rapport. (Of course a legit preseason versus other MLS teams would have been logical but we didn’t have that luxury- thanks Pete!)

    Did we score any goals during our “sand lot” preseason?

    Josue really seems like the logical candidate to play the full 90 next week, no?

    • I’m not ready to give up on Herdling after he’s spent all of three weeks on the continent, but I do like the notion of pairing Martinez and Mwanga. I cannot figure out what they see in Pajoy, but if he’s the best we’ve got, it is going to be an absolutely grueling season to watch. We’ve got to keep working on the midfield until we can actually start building. Marfan and Adu look like they can only see in about a four yard radius. They can’t think more than one pass ahead. Only one of them should play.

      • The problem with Pajoy is not Pajoy in my mind, it’s that he’s lacking a solid #2 forward or attacking midfielder. What he brings to the game is the ability to hold the ball and control a clearance from the back. I honestly think he’s one of the best in the league at being able to “post up” on a defender at midfield and hold the ball. The problem is that the team is relying on him too much and only looking for the long ball instead of building an attack through the midfield. Pajoy + Mwanga start for a few games would be nice to see with Marfan on the outside and Adu in the central mid.

      • I’m no expert, but in my mind, much of the “hold up” game includes controlling the ball deep in the attacking zone. He has a terrible first touch, which makes some of the longer balls less effective. Another aspect of the game is smart distribution while “posting up” — haven’t seen that either, though as you say, that’s not all his fault.

        On the subject of poor “touch,” I apologize if I missed it in the article or elsewhere in the comments, but the artificial surface did the Union no favors. Some of the through balls that might have had a chance to be effective at PPL just ran way ahead of Pajoy, et al. It sounds like an “excuse,” but I think it was a major factor yesterday. It exacerbated the poor ball control and inaccuracy of our passing.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Pajoy, unfortunately, is a problem. He’s done nothing to show that he will be a viable striking threat for the club. He is lazy, to challenge on potential 50/50 balls, and his first touch is god awful. Those are two qualities that you, really, need out of your striker (especially in the MLS). We need to explore our other striking options, before our fans go on strike.

  10. A lot of people are looking for solutions in changing players. “Lets try this guy and lets bench that guy.” Seriously, the only person that needs to be “benched” at this time is Nowak, and his staff. Obvously, we are a quarter into the sesson and at this point finding a new manager and coaching staff will be difficult but a change has to be made for next season. They missed the window of opportunity to get new management this season.

  11. As much as I would like to see Nowak fired, I don’t think he’s going anywhere. Unless we come in last, impossible as long as we still count Toronto as a team, Nowak will probably still be our coach next season.

  12. I am sad about the Union, I thought after last year they were going places.I think Nowak’s ego got in the way, blew up the chemistry and tried to justify it with BS. It’ s not about one player it’s about the team, yeah right.

  13. MikeRSoccer says:

    I thought the the NBC commentators raised a really great point when they mentioned that the key to keeping fans in the stadium is playing an attractive, attacking style of play. Also, did anyone else notice how NBC Sports showed almost no replays? Fouls, offsides, shots on goal they rarely ever showed replays.

    Unlike past games I thought that we had plenty of opportunities to get more shots and score, but didn’t take them yesterday. I can recall three instances where Adu moved into a wide open slot on the right side and his team mates neglected to see the run or pass to him. If I remember correctly two of them involved Mwanga trying to go it solo and be the hero with the one ending with a horrid pass that was also quite late to Pajoy towards the end of the game. This team truly has no answer at the forward position.

    • MikeRSoccer says:

      Also, Le Toux tweeting about his support for the Flyers is slowly killing me. I will wait to see the salary information when the MLS Union releases their report, but I still doubt that that decision will ever make sense.

  14. Hey folks, Great reading!First time commenting on this site. I think we will be in for a though season all the way through.Not happy saying it.But I think its true.I have no answers. From our seats in the corner of PPL I only have questions… I`ll be reading and laughing with the rest of you later

  15. I think the coach needs to go now! We are the worst team in the league. I have watched a couple Toronto games- and they look like they MIGHT score- Our team is frozen solid right now. This season would then have some worth to it if we can find a coach. I feel like this would be an ideal time to do it- 99% of leagues are wrapping up and we could maybe poach a manager from a lower division in Europe.

    • A lot of people don’t seee Nowak leaving. I’m not sure if the front office is interested in that either. I’m getting the feeling that the only thing the front office is interested is sitting on the money that they happen to make.

  16. snugsmac says:

    This kid Donovan has to be in his mid-20’s. All know it all assholes are (I know becasue I used to be one). Grow up dude, unless you have played soccer and gotten paid to do so you are as amateur as the rest of us, regardless of your past experiences.

    To even comment on Zac’s play in this game shows that you have no clue what the problem with our team is right now.

    And to answer another point, it is en vogue NOW to ask for the head of management. So get after it.

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