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“Baffling” — Recaps & reaction to Union USOC loss

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Philadelphia Union

It was a great Cup run. Pity it ended the way it did.

Kansas City will host the US Open Cup final on August 8 after defeating Philadelphia Union 2-0 on Wednesday night. Their opponent will be Seattle Sounders, who defeated Chivas USA 4-1 in last night’s other semifinal match. As of this writing, I really don’t think I could bear to watch the final, particularly after Kansas City’s Jacob Peterson said, “These guys [Philadelphia] think they have a good fanbase but it’s nowhere close [to KC’s].”

That is, of course, if the game is even televised. As of July 7, US Soccer spokesperson Neil Buethe said, “We are still in discussions with broadcasters about televising the Open Cup Final.”

Match reports from PSP, the Union website, Daily News, Inquirer, Delco Times, CSN Philly, Philly Soccer News, Brotherly Game, MLSsoccer.com, SBI, Soccer America, Goal.com, SportingKC.com, Kansas City Star, the Daily Wiz, and the AP.

Also check out PSP’s video of John Hackworth’s postgame press conference and interviews with Michael Lahoud and Amobi Okugo.

John Hackworth said at the start of the press conference following the Union’s 2-0 loss to a very unsporting Kansas City, “Why don’t you guys start with questions, because honestly I don’t think I can say much without losing my temper,” adding, “I’m surprised I was still on the field at the end of the game.”

The “loud, rowdy crowd of 8,486” fans at PPL Park—the fourth largest turnout for an Open Cup semifinal in the modern pro era—who witnessed the “downright ugly” game knew what the Union coach was talking about. As the Inquirer reported, they “consistently showed their disgust for the officiating” of referee Jorge Gonzalez. And rightly so.

Of course, such shameful officiating begins with the play in front of the man with the whistle. He is taken in by cynical display or he punishes it. He is consistent in calling fouls or he is not. Gonzalez was poor, plain and simple.

So what of Kansas City’s play? Hackworth said, “They did what they had to do to come in and get the result, different styles, different philosophies. They put in a good game plan and got some help executing it. It’s completely baffling, that’s all I can say. I don’t know how a player or a coach can play their game and manage what they have to manage when that kind of stuff happens.”

Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes said, “We had a game plan, and I am proud of my guys for sticking to it for the entire game. I thought there were some moments there where we weren’t playing attractive, but I think we finished well.”

Even Vermes, noting the 34 fouls and six yellow cards, agreed the officiating was terrible. “Unfortunately, sometimes what happens is that there’s no consistency in the calls. And then all of a sudden, even the crowd gets into it, and I don’t blame them, because they think it should be a foul, but it’s not, and then the next one, it’s not, but he calls it anyway. I think the game gets a little bit out of hand then, you lose the rhythm.”

Brian Carroll said after the game of Kansas City’s tactics, “You know, they won. So you have to give them credit for doing what they needed to do to move on.” That’s a classier display than any Kansas City player put on in 90 minutes of soccer, a collective display neatly described in the Daily News as “more theatrics than athletics.”

And credit to Hackworth, who said, “First, I should say congratulations to Sporting KC, they are in the final and that’s fantastic for them. They did what they had to do to get the result.” He continued, “Credit to them,” before getting to the bottom line: “We didn’t take our chances, we possessed the ball an awful lot but didn’t create the opportunities. We missed the final pass a lot, we didn’t get the final chance we needed.” Cynical play, shameful officiating — in the end, it was the Union that failed to get the job done with only four shots, one on goal.

Hackworth said, “I’m not going to lie to you. I don’t think we are fresh as we would be if we had a week of rest. But I don’t think fatigue was the difference. We gave up a soft goal. They did what they had to do. And there were a lot of other situations on the field that allowed them to get the result.”

Carlos Valdes said, “I think we made too many mistakes and they just took advantage. For some moments of the game, we looked confused, and we couldn’t connect a lot of passes basically in the last part of the field. When you play like this in a game as important as a semifinal, you pay a lot for your mistakes. And we definitely did tonight.”

Freddy Adu said, “They disrupted us a little bit. When they got physical, when they hit us, and when they get away with some other stuff, it makes it a little bit difficult.”

Zac MacMath was very disappointed to have allowed the first goal. “I just didn’t get to it unfortunately. Obviously, I know I can save that ball. And I should save that ball. I shouldn’t have let it in.”

But MacMath’s teammates made sure to let him know he shouldn’t take the blame. Said Amobi Okugo, “It’s a team game. It’s the players on the field that allowed the header. If the header doesn’t happen, then he doesn’t even have to make the save, or if the foul doesn’t happen, they don’t get the opportunity for a set piece. I don’t want to tell Zac it was his fault because it wasn’t his fault. It was the team’s fault.”

Jack McInerney said, “It sucks to lose, but we have such a young team. We’re only halfway through the season and, the goal has to be to get into the playoffs.”

And the young will learn from the game. Hackworth said, “There are a lot of things in this game that we can use to move forward, because when you dissect this kind of game and you look at it, you can get better from the mistakes we made, and that’s what we’ll do. I’m terribly disappointed, but those are one of those teachable moments.”

Michael Lahoud said, “We’ll come back from this and learn from this.”

The lessons will come quickly with Montreal, who the Union trail by four points, coming to town on Saturday. Said Okugo, “We’ll look to give the home fans a game for them to forget this Open Cup loss.”


The proposed taxes on ticket sales and parking at PPL Park could reach a vote as early as July 25.

Union Dues looks at the history of Harrisburg City Islanders and its supporters culture.

The Dark Horse is being bought by Cavanaugh’s.


Toronto defeated Vancouver on Wednesday night 3-2 and are now four points behind the Union.

In its mid-season review, Sporting News names Peter Nowak “Biggest personal disappointment (coach)”.

Montreal Impact have signed 21-year-old Swiss-Italian left fullback Dennis Iapichino.

Soccer America wants more transparency from the league’s disciplinary committee. “Let us know who you are, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Put another way, stand up and be counted, exactly as the referees have to be in each game.”

Women’s Soccer

Becky Sauerbrunn talks to the Washington Post about hopes that a successful USWNT run will produce the momentum needed to start a new first division women’s professional league.


Megan Rapimoe’s latest blog post is up at ESPNW.

Here’s a look at Brian McBride’s return to the FA Cup with Wembley FC.


Court documents have been released showing former FIFA president Joao Havelange and Ricardo Teixeira, until recently head of the Brazilian soccer federation and 2014 World Cup organizing committee, took millions of dollars in bribes. More on the story here.

FIFA will investigate claims by former EPL player Claus Lundekvam that spot-fixing was commonplace before games. “For a while we did this almost every week,” Lundekvam said in an interview. “We made a fair bit of money. We could make deals with the opposing captain about. For example, betting on the first throw, the first corner, who started with the ball, a yellow card or a penalty. Those were the sorts of thing we had influence over. The results were never on the agenda. That is something I would never have done. We were professional competitors. Even though what we did, of course, was illegal, it was just a fun thing.”

Coca-Cola has dropped its sponsorship of Ronaldhino after the toothy Brazilian was filmed at a press conference drinking a can of Pepsi.


  1. James "4-3-3" Forever says:

    And my god, Pajoy is a butcher. BUTCHER. Can he please shoot?
    My god that through ball was just begging to be hit one time.

  2. Did Peterson not make the trip to Philadelphia a few weeks ago?

    I was at the SKC v. San Jose game earlier this season and based on a one-time sample (of a Sunday afternoon sellout) I’d say it was about equal to Philadelphia in overall atmosphere and fan support with a slight edge to the River End.

    Given the number of years Kansas City has been in the league and the fact that their stadium is decoration for a NASCAR track quite literally in the middle of nowhere, they shouldn’t be throwing stones.

    • Sitting in the river end I can say last nights game had some of the best support I have heard in a while.

    • It took the Wiz – sorry, Sporting – 16 seasons to get their own stadium. Between that and Arrowhead they played in a minor league baseball stadium. Minor. League. Baseball. Their fanbase isn’t better than ours, they just didn’t show up to games before LSP existed. If he doesn’t score that goal he’s not saying that anyway.

  3. Hackworth said, “I’m not going to lie to you. I don’t think we are fresh as we would be if we had a week of rest. But I don’t think fatigue was the difference. We gave up a soft goal.”

    That’s the difference.

    • Fatigue was TOTALLY the difference. 100%. And they did NOT need their regular starters to beat Toronto last Sunday.

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    While a win would have been better (and in addition to the horrid officiating by Gonzalez who was probably paid off by Sporting KC, we defintely could have played better), I really like the comments made by some of the young players. Zak taking ownership for giving up the goal and Amobi’s not letting him take all the blame are signs of real leadership from the future of this team. While we may not be great yet, I really think we need to keep the nucleus of this young team together for the long term. Specifically I’m thinking about Zak, Amobi, Sheanon, both Farfan’s, Jack, and Antoine. If that group can stay together, we can be competing for both cups for several years.

    • Hey, the USSF does a blind bid to host the games, why not do a blind bid for the officiating too?
      I don’t even know if the refs are trustworthy enough to handle that. If a team paid one of them off they’d likely call a fair game.

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    Does anyone remember last Union game Jorge Gonzalez was the referee? Hint: It was on Mother’s Day.

    • The ref was Chico Grajeda, not Jorge Gonzalez.

      • Ed Farnsworth says:

        Where are you getting this info? Our match report, the Daily News report, the Inquirer report, the Delco Times, MLSsoccer.com’s Kickoff – they all say Jorge Gonzalez.

      • Every time he refs for us we get boned, my wife and I were at home watching, and I didn’t even have to say anything when they announced the refs name, my wife goes ” oh sh*t” before I could even get it out. That being said it wasn’t the only reason we lost, it was a lot of little reasons that stacked up against us

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