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“A cruel game”: Quotes & reaction from gutting loss to the Crew, more news

Philadelphia Union

Columbus Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson said after Wednesday night’s larcenous win over the Philadelphia Union, “Playing down a man and absorbing that much pressure and still countering for a goal? That’s the mark of a playoff team.”

Of course, the corollary to Lampson’s comments would be “Playing up a man and producing that much pressure but being unable to finish and then giving up the winning goal in the dying moments of stoppage time? That’s the mark of a team that is not going to the playoffs.”

And John Hackworth knows that. Speaking of the team’s playoff hopes at the postgame press conference, Hackworth said,

“You know, I’m the eternal optimist, but I’ll say I’m not stupid, either, and unless we go on some amazing run, tonight was a game we had to get three points in, and really have a six-point swing, so I don’t think it’s a possibility anymore.

“I think we should stop talking about it, personally. I think we should concentrate on playing good soccer the rest of the way and see how many points we can get and see what position we can put ourselves in and improve and look towards the future.”

In case you were wondering, ten games remain to be played in the 2012 season.

Union Tally notes, “The Union have allowed 30 goals this season, 17 of which have been in the final 15 minutes of a half. Even worse, 9 of them have come inside the final five minutes of a half … and two of those were tonight.”

Though time still remained, the winning goal saw fans around PPL Park—including in the River End—streaming for the exits. Antoine Hoppenot said after the game, “This is bad. You look at the locker room right now and a lot of guys got dressed and left. You want to get out of here as quickly as possible. Everything reminds you of the game. We don’t think we deserved that. We thought we played well today and we got ourselves a lot of chances.”

Hackworth said, “It’s just a cruel game sometimes. To have that many of the shots, to have that many opportunities. To go up a man for the final 20 minutes and not get a result out of the game, it’s mind-boggling. But that is this game sometimes.”

Before the game, Hackworth said the team would lean on Jack McInerney. McInerney said after the game, “It’s tough playing up there because we play a 4-3-3, but the wide guys tuck back. I’m not the biggest guy, so I can’t really play as that target striker. I just need players to make runs off of me, and create stuff for me too.”

Match reports from PSP, MLSsoccer.com, the Union website, the Daily News, the Inquirer, Delco Times, CSN Philly, Philly Soccer News, Columbus Dispatch, SBI, Goal.com, The Sports Network, and The AP.

So how do the players look ahead? Brian Carroll said, “It’s very difficult but we have to keep fighting and playing until the very end in order to have confidence in ourselves, in each other, as a group for the rest of this year and for next year.”

Hoppenot said, “All we can do is play. I know I’m going to go out there and play every day, every game, like it’s a playoff game anyways. And I know every single guy in the locker room is going to do the same thing.”

Chris Vito is undoubtedly not alone in his suggestion for how the Union should see out the rest of the season: “Play the kids. Give them minutes. All of them. Already the league’s youngest club, the Union could go even younger.” Is it too soon?

Calros Valdes came out of the match 55th minute for what was described as a hamstring injury. Valdes said, “[I collided] with the keeper and when I landed I feel little bit pain on my leg. I don’t know what happened. We will see tomorrow what the doctors say. I wasn’t comfortable staying. I have to prevent something worse.”

Hackworth said of Valdes’ status for Saturday’s game in New England, “Up in the air. I don’t think he did it to the point where—it was more preventative for him to come out. We’ll get our staff on top of it right away, I know they already are, and we’ll evaluate.”

Valdes has been called up for national team duty for Colombia while Gabriel Gomez has been called up for Panama (although they might want to reconsider based on his pitiful performance on Wednesday night). Both are scheduled to depart to join their national teams after the New England game on Saturday and will play World Cup qualifiers on Sept. 7 and 11 before rejoining the Union. Following Saturday’s New England game, the Union are off until Sept. 15 when they travel to face Toronto FC.

For the second game in a row, Freddy Adu did not start, coming on as a late sub against Columbus. Martin Rogers writes at Yahoo Sports that Adu’s options are running out. An unnamed “leading European soccer agent” tells Rogers, “Where is he going to go now? He has been all over and never cut it. Everyone knows he can play, but who is going to set up their entire team around one unproven American? I’m glad I’m not touting him around Europe, because you’d struggle to find takers.”

Writing at The 700 Level, Gordon Strachan evaluates Freddy Adu’s impact on games and finds the Union’s win/loss record is much better when he plays more than half a game (6-6-1; Strachan explains in the comments section that he mistakenly included the US Open Cup win over DC instead of the loss to DC in league play in his original calculations) then when he plays less than half a game (1-7-3 including Wednesday’s loss).

At SI, Brian Carroll tops Alecko Eskadarian’s Best XI list of underrated players in MLS.

Union Dues looks into its crystal soccer ball to predict the Union starting lineup for opening day in 2013.


Men’s college soccer season previews for University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Richard Stockton College.

La Salle’s women’s team is ranked No. 1 in the latest NSCAA Mid-Atlantic Region poll for the second week in a row.


In other Eastern Conference action, DC and New York played to a 2–2 draw while New England and Chivas played to a 3–3 draw. New England has scored 6 goals in the last two games, which is more than the Union have scored since the two teams met on July 29.

Dwayne De Rosario became just the seventh MLS player to score 100 goals when he scored last night.

It’s official, Caleb Porter is the new head coach of Portland Timbers. Porter will complete the 2012 season at University of Akron before taking over the job in Portland in 2013.

At Goal.com Kyle McCarthy examines the “contractual security” Porter leaves behind in making the move from college to pro soccer by comparing perks in his college coaching contract with what has been revealed via litigation about Peter Nowak’s contract with the Union. McCarthy notes parenthetically, “Nowak cost several MLS teams some money when the terms of his contract were made public earlier this year…One would imagine the Union brass has heard a word or two about its severance practices from the league offices and the executives of other teams since jettisoning its former coach and sparking litigation in the process.”

Sporting News notes that Porter’s hiring is only the second time in the past ten years that MLS has gone into the college ranks for a new coach. FC Dallas hired Schellas Hyndman from SMU.

The league’s Disciplinary Committee has fined DC United head coach Ben Olsen an undisclosed amount for his colorfully heated remarks following the Geiger Show on August 19 in the match against the Union.

Former DC United defender Bryan Namoff is suing the club and former head coach Tom Soehn. Steven Goff reports at the Washington Post that Namoff, whose professional soccer career ended in 2009 because of concussion-related symptoms, claims the club failed to properly evaluate his injury and cleared him to play too soon. Soehn is now an executive at Vancouver Whitecaps.

Are Vancouver fans being fickle and hypocritical?

Jorge Vergara and his wife, Angelica Fuentes, are now sole owners of Chivas USA after buying out brothers Antonio and Lorenzo Cue.

In CONCACAF Champions League play, LA Galaxy defeated Puerto Rico Islanders 4–0. Tonight, Seattle is on the road to Caledonia (8pm, FSC) and Houston is away to Olimpia (10pm, FSC).


Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and Michael Bradley could all be unavailable for the upcoming USMNT World Cup qualifiers on Sept. 7 and Sept. 11 against Jamaica. Soccer America explores.

The US will face North Korea on Friday in the Women’s U-20 World Cup in Japan (6:20am, ESPNU, ESPN3).

Penn Live has a Q&A with Carli Lloyd.


The Champions League draw takes place today at 11:30am. If you can’t watch the draw on FSC, you can watch a live stream of the draw here.



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

    I like Mac. He keeps it real. And he’s totally right.
    Which makes me question Hackworth even more. Way too many long balls to the head of Jack. He is not blind, so I am not sure what he is thinking doing that.
    We basically need a Drogba, but one 10 years younger.

  2. First off, Higuain is an amazing player, what I would give to have him on our team… but I digress.
    “Union are now 6-6-1 when Adu plays over 45 minutes and 1-7-3 when he plays 45 minutes or less” – This is an amazing stat to me. And if anyone has watched these last 2 games, as well as the game in NY that he didn’t come to, and STILL think that the Union are better with him not playing are insane. Well no I take that back, but it’s just not a sentiment that I understand.
    I was still sticking up for Hackworth recently, but come on. The game on Friday was one of our worst offensive outputs this year and he keeps essentially the same lineup. Something has to change… the lineup, and potentially the coach.
    Lahoud is a great energy guy, and is great at cleaning up, but I think Cruz fills that same role, only he is much more offensive.
    Carroll is a very solid, steady player, and is great to have on the team. However on this team, this year, we really should sit him and let some of the younger guys, in different formations play. Let’s see what we have.
    I honestly read the comment above this about Gomez having a good game, an almost committed myself, bc we can’t have been watching the same game. Read the review of the game, his name is there on at least 7 bad plays! He is SO slow, he clogs up the game. His passing was awful last night, leaving the ball behind onrushing attackers on several occasions. His supposed BEST trait of dead ball situations was the WORST part of his game last night. I really don’t know if he hit one good one. He should not see the field unless absolutely necessary, his dead legs do not work with a young and fast team.
    What a bad game to leave a bad taste in your mouth. Lets all look forward instead of at this failed season, and put our guys out there that will help us in the years to come.
    Preferred Lineup – 4-3-1-2 (4-1-3-2)

    • Yea someone suggested this in the player ratings article from Friday, and I couldn’t have possibly agreed more. I like the 4-1-3-2 with Okugo alone as a DM, but you could also play this as a 4-1-2-3. This is effectively what we’re playing now but instead of having 2 DMs – which seems ineffective because they cover the same ground – you replace one with a 2nd AM (Garfan, perhaps with Gaddis in the back) which provides more of a outlet for the lone DM and will theoretically occupy more defenders in the middle of the pitch. This still leaves McInerney alone up top but with forming the point of an attacking triangle the Farfans could relieve some of the defensive pressure off of him by drawing more defenders onto them. This also keeps Cruz and Adu out wide where they are most effective.

      Whatever position Adu plays, all he needs to focus on is passing the ball. That’s what he does best. As soon as he figures that out he can finally become the star everyone thought he was. Beckham made his name with great free kicks and precision passing. Adu will never be as good but that’s the model he should follow.

      Gaddis; Valdes; Soumare; Williams
      Garfan; Marfan
      Adu; McInerney; Cruz


      • frankswild says:

        I have seen a lot of people’s ideas about preferred lineups and I think this one more than any other has hit the nail on the head as far as what I would like to see.

  3. ‘“Play the kids. Give them minutes. All of them. Already the league’s youngest club, the Union could go even younger.” Is it too soon?’

    Younger? How will that improve things? You improve by mixing youth with veterans, not playing kids against men. I get that everyone wants Okugo to start in place of Carroll because he’s the future, and has played well. Carroll is possibly the best player on this team. Not talented, but player. If there is anyone on the roster who is an automatic on the lineup card, it’s Carroll.
    The reason the Union are losing isn’t the back line, though why Soumare can’t break into the lineup is a question to ask. We simply do not have the height and size to defend set pieces. The Union are losing because they have 5 forwards on the roster, all 22 and under, with a combined MLS goal total of 10. Not 10 this year, but career MLS of 86 games. Kenny Cooper alone has 14 goals in MLS this season.

    We have too many of the same type of player, and not enough finishers. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 4-2-3-1;4-3-3; 1-10, whatever, just throwing kids onto the field without professionals amongst them to guide them AND with some freaking finishing ability, is just so much crap.
    The U had 60% possession last night. 53% vs RSL. They can hold the ball, what this team has yet to prove, they can score. Last 3 goals – a deflection, a one foot bundling over the line and an OG. It’s not the midfield guys, its a lack of a striker. Preferably, you know, one over three apples high who may make contact with his head.

    • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

      It won’t improve things right now, but of course the point is improving things right now is worthless and we arent making the playoffs.
      It will improve things for 2013. A lot of these kids should still be on this team then, and constant playing time will help them.
      Doing this will give us a better idea of what we really need to get in the off season.

      • I think what we all assume is what you said above. “It will improve” things. It should improve things, but there’s no evidence that the philosophy, tactics, formations, player selections, choice of draft beer, percentage of gravel in all 3 lots – “will” improve things. I’m not jumping on you(or even really directing this to you persnally), my point is more that we as a fanbase are being asked to buy into a rebuild 3 years in, and months after a playoff spot. If playing youth was our philosophy all along, why did we have a mix of veterans in 2010, when there were zero expectations? Why bring in Ruiz last season? Or even Gomez this year?
        This club just makes one Crazy Ivan after another. I’m still shaking my head at removing Cruz for Adu last night. If the point was to press the advantage and go for 3, take Lahoud (who never met a backpass he didnt like) for Adu and leave the more offensively minded Cruz on.
        So yeah, it was a cruel game.

      • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

        You’re definitely overlooking the Nowak effect. You can’t overstate how badly he dismantled this team. All your points about 3 years in and having veterans in the past is irrelevant as soon as Nowak decided to have a fire sale and play 5 in the back for the first time ever in a playoff game.

      • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

        BEcause you’re right – why did Nowak bring in Ruiz and stunt Mwanga? Why did he stop playing Jack and Okugo? Those are all valid points, but the guy who did those things is no longer here. And now we are like 1.5 years behind schedule.

      • ” Nowak decided to have a fire sale” – I’m still not convinced he wasn’t directed to unload salary.

        ” Nowak bring in Ruiz and stunt Mwanga? ” – I think another question maybe, did Nowak have enough time from being announced as manager to properly scout Mwanga before the draft, or did he go with the safe pick of highest ranked? Because Mwanga can’t find the pitch for an arguably worse team, makes you wonder if he was being stunted, or after a season of watching the holes in his game Nowak decided to bring in a more polished finisher to win now(then).

  4. The first half they were completely unwatchable. Hacking balls over the top and hoping for a result. That was Hackworth’s plan?! The second half they came out playing better. They moved the ball better and faster. Unfortunately, there was simply not enough quality on the field to take the three points. Even with a man advantage they could not finish after putting the Crew under sedge for the last 30 minutes of the game.
    It’s pointless to harp about various players or coaching decisions at this point. I don’t think that the Union intends to spend the money to put a good team together. I don’t think that they will make what at this point has become an obviously necessary coaching change. They have shown time and time again their unwillingness to invest in quality players and improve the on field performance. As such, I don’t really feel like wasting my time watching them butcher a great game for the rest of the season.
    It’s unfortunate, because they need fans who love the game to come to the game. We will see what preseason will bring. Most likely more of the same ineptitude.

    • I just saw that Hackworth has been made perminent manager. Suprise! After a terrible home loss the Union makes him manager. That’s how they function.
      I’m done with them until next year, and maybe not even then. If I’m going to watch soccer, I will watch professionals play it in Europe.

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