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Final: FC Dallas 1-1 Union

It wasn’t pretty, but it counts.

In the 56th minute, Gabriel Gomez lowered his head and, with Philadelphia’s first shot of the match, tied the score at one. As he scored, Gomez collided with Dallas goalie Kevin Hartman and had to leave the match, but the Union held on for the point in front of 13,272 at FC Dallas Park in Frisco, Texas.

The Union started in a 4-3-3 with Keon Daniel pressed high on the right. Behind him was surprise inclusion Michael Lahoud, who has already played as many minutes for Philly as he did for Chivas this year. Danny Mwanga and Lio Pajoy were up top with Gabriel Gomez and Brian Carroll rounding out the midfield. The back line of Michael Farfan, Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes and Ray Gaddis held the line in front of MLS debutant Chase Harrison.

First half

Filing a report solely based on the first half of the Union’s tenth game of the season would have been equivalent to soccer writer torture. Thank goodness they play two.

Former Philly midfielder Andrew Jacobson announced himself in the 4th minute with a deft flick of the head that sent Bryan Leyva’s corner kick skidding around the back post. It would be Jacobson’s game in the first half, as the midfielder found space behind Brian Carroll and played the Union like a fiddle until the halftime whistle sounded.

In the 6th minute, Hernan Pertuz dropped a long ball over the Union back line that Jacobson ran onto alone. Chase Harrison flew out to deflect Jacobson’s lob out for a corner kick.

Where Jacobson threatened, Blas Perez struck. Leyva’s second corner deflected off George John and fell to Perez at the back post who went to his knees to power a header past Harrison.

The Union as a team did not respond. But Ray Gaddis did. For a player so reluctant to use his left boot, Gaddis was unafraid to run the line and take on defenders. Slipping past Pertuz, Gaddis crossed from the endline towards Gomez’s feet, only to see George John intercept as the Panamanian midfielder wound up to fire.

Moments later, the Union were again in trouble as Sheanon Williams and Chase Harrison miscommunicated and Harrison had to slide out of his box to dispossess Perez.

In the fifteenth minute, Peter Nowak had seen enough of the 4-3-3 and pulled Daniel back to left mid, moving Lahoud to the right.

Nothing changed.

The Union were mentally lost, and even Brian Carroll was caught in possession deep in his half.

When Philadelphia did earn a corner kick, but one run was made. Three players stood stock still at the back post admiring something only they could see.

The first half was exemplified by a strange exchange of passes that saw Gomez loft a lazy ball to Pajoy who did well to win it and turn, only to play an even lazier long ball to Farfan. Almost needless to say, it was easily cut out. The Union were out of sorts, and they needed someone to point them in the right direction.

In the 37th minute, Lahoud, already carrying a caution, tried to make a play to turn the tide. Lahoud slid in as Pertuz attempted to turn the ball upfield. Studs connected with ankle and Pertuz left on a stretcher. No foul was called. Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman had one or seven things to say to the fourth official; Lahoud stayed on the pitch.

When the half ended, Williams ushered the team off the pitch. After the game he would say he just didn’t want to walk down the tunnel at the same time as the other team. But after such a horrendous first half, it looked like The Sheanomenon was taking up the leadership reins.

Second half

The second half was a completely different story, with the Union coming out firing. Well, not the entire second half. Until Gavilan tied the score, it was more of the same.

But when a loose ball falls to Gomez, he finds a way to finish.

Gomez was hurt on the play, and Okugo came on to shape up the midfield. Josue Martinez also came on and made an immediate impact, driving up the right side and opening space for Michael Farfan to get forward. The striker playing midfield and the midfielder playing fullback showed good chemistry, and it forced Dallas to switch their attacks to Gaddis’ side, which of course was a black hole where offense is turned into energy for Gaddis’ endlessly moving legs.

The match was degenerating into a wrestling match as both teams played for a tie.

Five was a fair number of yellow cards, as Michael Farfan and Jacobson earned them for rough play while Blas Perez picked his up for dissent and Harrison for time-wasting.

Carlos Valdes was shown a caution for being in front of Jackson after Gaddis clipped the Dallas middie from behind. Valdes stood his ground as Jackson slammed into him. Somehow, the yellow came to the Union captain.

It would be one of Valdes’ final contributions. A collision on a corner kick opened a head wound that brought Porfirio Lopez into the fray. Playing in the middle, Lopez was solid if unspectacular. He read the game well and slid over to help when needed.

On the other side of the pitch, the Union were pressing Dallas back. Michael Farfan had his second wind and drove at the defense in the 71st. Finding his options, frankly, boring and uncreative, the right back floated a chip over Hartman that dropped beyond the crossbar.

Three minutes later, Okugo found Farfan with a crossfield ball to deserving of the “oohs” that rang from the stands.

After bringing the ball down, Farfan broke to his left, skittered away from a pair of defenders and unleashed a left-footed rocket that Hartman beat away.

Dallas brought on reserve league phenom Ruben Luna to go for the win. It wouldn’t help.

The next big moment came from Pajoy working on the left. A few fine spins gave the striker space, and he zipped a low cross onto Okugo’s left foot. The midfielder screwed his shot, and Martinez couldn’t redirect the bouncer as it dropped wide of the goal line.

Danny Mwanga had a quiet but effective match, occupying the two big center halves for ninety minutes. Finally getting a chance to shoot in the 90th minute, Mwanga elected to lay it wide for Martinez. It was a play indicative of Mwanga’s confidence level, even if his work rate indicated the player deserves to remain on the pitch until he regains his mojo.

The Union picked up a much-needed point, and Chase Harrison showed he is a very capable backup goalie. Playing a rough and tumble game, Harrison earned the respect of his teammates, though Dallas fans were less enamored.

Next up for Philadelphia is lowly Toronto. It is a must-win game, if only because everyone will make fun of them if they don’t.

Boxscore

20 Comments

  1. Philly Cheese says:

    Little team chemistry. Lahoud hadn’t practiced with team as midfielder. If you want to play three forwards, Hoffman should have been the third and Daniels in midfield. Amobi deserved to start, not Lahoud. With sloppy play, very lucky to get a point.

  2. That match was something, and not in a good way. Peter “I’m the Best” Nowak played Lahoud. He played him just to say: “I hear you all and FU all.” Meanwhile, Califf had a great game against LA. FU Nowak.

    The game was what a foreign observer would expect from MLS. Low turnout in the stands. A hacking affair devoid of any tactics or technical ability.

    Didn’t look like soccer. Don’t really know what it looked like. Looked like pewee soccer with a bunch of children running around en mass chaising the ball around the field. That’s what it looked like, except more violent.

    The second half was better but not by much. Pajoy was good. Harrison had a great debute. Good for him. We have a worthy back up.

    The boys were willing to put their bodies on the line to get a goal. But that’s about it. Terrible.

    But then I realized that this is Nowak’s style. We all have been wondering what it is. It has been three years. But there it was,a scrapy game, devoid of tachtics and technical ability. Just players hacking at the ball whichever way they can into whatever direction they can. Doing whatever they can do to force it into goal. In short, a game not worth watching.

    I retract my earlier statement about waiting to fire Nowak until the end of the season. Fire him now!

    • Diego Gutierrez says:

      The technical staff is very excited to announce that We are prescient and acquired Lahoud, who will fill in at goalkeeper while Harrison and MacMath are out. This is why Piotr is a genius. All hail Peter. All hail Peter. All hail Peter.

    • The Black Hand says:

      To make matters worse, Chivas was the nationally televised game. Califf looked just fine, as the centerpiece to their back line. (I admit, I was wrong about our being able to handle Califf’s departure). We looked like a high school soccer team. Between our horrible form and Comcast’s dreadful production; last night’s match was tough to get through. Maybe watching Chelsea/Bayern, before the match, had me expecting something resembling quality football. We looked like amateurs, as did Dallas. It’s a shame.

    • Spot on, except the part about Lahoud (it wasn’t an FU to the fans; he was trying to show off his new acquisition to prove the trade was worthwhile, it just really backfired).
      But you nailed it about this being Nowak’s style of play. Admirable fortitude, but unwatchable results. And I’m not even comparing it to Chelsea/Bayern; the Portland/Chicago game last night was far better quality, and both those teams kind of stink. If that’s the kind of no-fun style we’re in for, it’s going to be hard for me to renew my tickets next year.
      In fact, you also hit the answer to the question we’ve been asking for months now. The reason that le Toux had to go was that someone who can win the MLS Fair Play award has no business on a Peter Nowak team.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    I think there were far too few yellow cards. Hartman should have gotten one on the Gomez goal for arriving as late as he did and someone needed to get carded for the number of times Harrison got needlessly bumped.

    One a separate note, with the lack of experienced defenders, maybe the Union should try a 3-4-3. That will give Sheanon a chance to make runs on the wing rather than be stuck at center back and they can use both Carroll and Okugo as defensive midfielders.

    • The Black Hand says:

      I believe we did adjust to a 3 man back line, with Marfan joining the midfield. I could be wrong. If I’m right and we did…it didn’t work.

    • did you watch the start of the season? sheanon is dreadful as a winger. he is good at making runs from the back but his primary skill is as a defender.

    • Agree on the cards. How about that Jacobson bump on Harrison late? Not necessarily card worthy, but how do you not call that a foul? If a player gets pushed into the goal keeper by an opposing defender on a corner it’s often whistled, but when a player blatantly runs into a keeper who has just fielded the ball there is nothing called? The ref is lucky that game didn’t get completely out of hand with all the “physical” play that was going on.

  4. I think a 3-5-2 would be better suited for us. Valdes in the middle flanked by Gaddis and Williams. Gomez & Carroll in front of them. Daniel, Marfan, Adu from left to right, with Mwanga and Pajoy up top. Gomez would likly drift up along-side Marfan & either he or Adu would push up, effectively turning it into a 3-4-3, but placing Gomez in a D-Mid role would provide the extra defensive help we would need with only having 3 players back. It would also allow Gaddis and Williams to push forward with Carroll and Gomez providing cover.

    At the end of the day, if we score goals and get 3 points I honestly don’t care what formation we are in. And regardless of what people think or have been saying, there is NO way we would’ve come out as better team by trading Danny Califf. He may be on the older and slower side, but speed and technical ability have never been his forte. Not only did we lose our captain, our defensive depth has completely disappeared. Our 1st choice sub on defense is Lopez. Just like Le Toux, Nowak wanted him out of here so badly that he settled for a midfielder who, besides barely playing this year, doesn’t add anything to our team that we didn’t already have.
    It should be noted, as well, that our shutout streak earlier in the year occured when Califf was playing.

    • The Black Hand says:

      You have the right lineup. I like that the options that the 3-5-2 provides. If the back line needs support, Marfan can drop to RB. If the attack needs a boost, Adu can push up. Both of these adjustments can occur without having to substitute. I, unfortunately, doubt that Nowak will see this as logical. He might opt to trade to ship talent out, in order to transfer in another mediocre midfielder. I have zero faith in our manager.

  5. Big problems on the pitch and behind the scenes for Philadelphia Union. Not sure what the answer will be to correct our dreadful situation, but I sure wish we would get some answers as to what the Supreme Leader has in mind for this club. What is the vision/objective for the Zolos?

    As for Saturday’s game, I’m not gonna totatlly freak out becuase the boys found a way to get a result in Frisco. It was an ugly 55 minutes, but they found a way to equalize and looked the better team late on in the match. While it’s always easier to dwell on negatives, there are some positives to take away from the last two matches. The Union stood toe-to-toe with the Energy Drinks while down a man and played their best, most attacking football of the season. In Frisco, they found a way to get a result and we discovered we have a tough, gritty back-up GK in Chase Harrison. Ray Gaddis has been a revelation and the partnership of Mwanga and Pajoy gives the appearance that more DOOP is on the horizon.

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