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Match report: Revolution 0-0 Union

Photo: Barb Colligon

Despite dominating New England from start to finish, Philadelphia Union limped into the month of September, failing to find the net in a dull 0-0 draw at Gillette Stadium.

Amobi Okugo, Antoine Hoppenot and Brian Carroll all had excellent chances to win the match against a punchless Revolution side, but between Matt Reis’ heroic play and his crossbar, the Union were forced to accept another scoreless performance.

With the result, the Union are now winless in their last 6 matches with an anemic 3 goals over that span.

First half

Following Wednesday’s heartbreaking, last gasp defeat at the hands of Columbus Crew, John Hackworth made two changes to his side. In his first match since the removal of his interim tag, Hackworth brought on Freddy Adu and Antoine Hoppenot, replacing Gabriel Gomez and Jack McInerney.

With Michael Farfan opening the match on the left flank and Adu in the middle, the Union were set up to give their Designated Player the chance to drive the offense. And the Union started brightly, quickly moving into their quick passing, possession-oriented game, while New England sat back. Missing top scorer Saer Sene to a season-ending ACL injury, New England called on 17-year-old Diego Fagundez to partner with Honduran international Jerry Bengtson up top, but neither saw significant early touches as the Union moved the ball with pace.

Though the Union controlled the early play, the missed connections that plagued them against Columbus continued as Carroll, Hoppenot and Adu all took turns giving the ball away under little defensive pressure. It was of little concern for the Union because New England were lethargic on the counter and their only attacking foray of the opening 15 minutes ended when Fernando Cardenas’ showy flick rolled harmlessly to Zac MacMath.

Finding little resistance in the center of the park, Michael Farfan dropped into the midfield where he began to find Adu on the build-up, and the pair kept the ball moving at a pace with which the sluggish Revolution struggled to cope. With little defensive work to do, Carroll joined the attacking action, swinging the ball wide to a driving Gabriel Farfan in the 20th minute after having been set up by the Michael Farfan-Freddy Adu tandem.

For all their possession, however, the Union failed to challenge Matt Reis’ net in the first half hour, with the Union’s lone target, Hoppenot, well looked after by the pair of Stephen McCarthy and Darrius Barnes. Heavy touches both trapping and laying off the ball made dropping into the midfield an ineffective tactic for Hoppenot, whose frustration at being physically muscled off the play was visible throughout the match.

As the match moved into its middle third, the Union finally began to find their attacking impetus, with Michael Farfan leading the charge. Minutes after playing in Cruz for a weak shot, Farfan kept the ball himself. Accelerating to the endline past Clyde Simms, his low driven ball was palmed invitingly into the center of the box by a scrambling Reis, but after sitting at the top of the 6 yard box for an agonizing moment, the Revolution cleared the danger.

With the Union pressing forward, Cruz began to cut into the center of the pitch with greater frequency, playing Sheanon Williams up the flank in the 35th minute, though the fullback’s cross was too close to Reis. The Revolution goalkeeper was quickly back to work as Michael Lahoud’s switch of field found Gabriel Farfan, whose teasing ball forced Reis to fly off his line to punch, flattening his own defender in the process.

The chances began to pour in for the Union and Michael Farfan put Carroll into space in the 43rd minute. Spying the darting run of Hoppenot, Carroll’s perfect through ball played the striker in on Reis, but with the defense cutting down the angle, a deflection from Darrius Barnes pushed Hoppenot’s shot to the near post where Reis palmed it behind.

On the ensuing corner, Okugo nearly put the Union in front. Adu’s well placed delivery found Okugo at the near post and the centerback rose highest to drive his header across the face of goal. With Reis beaten, the ball rebounded back off the crossbar to a waiting Hoppenot, who could not get a shot on target.

As the half entered injury time, an aerial challenge between Williams and New England’s Kevin Alston left the Revolution fullback on the ground requiring treatment. When play resumed, New England’s defense fell asleep, failing to deal with Williams’ long throw, with a misplaced header falling at the feet of Okugo. Driving in on Reis, Okugo pushed his effort low and was unlucky to see Reis make another save, keeping his team in the match despite the Union’s 70-30 possession advantage at the half.

Second half

Coming out of the tunnel, the Union nearly had the lead in the first minute of second half play when Florian Lechner failed to step up with his teammates, playing Hoppenot onside. Gathering a well-weighted through ball from Adu, Hoppenot’s shot sent Reis the wrong way, but the keeper did well to get his trailing foot on the ball, keeping the scores level.

Reis’ night of heroics was not complete and in the 51st minute, he made his best save of the night. Adu again began the moment, playing in Lahoud. When the ball found Cruz cutting in to the right corner of the box, New England’s defense was scrambling. Though the Revolution did enough to deflect Cruz’s shot, it squirted through to Hoppenot who reacted quickly, flicking the ball on to an unmarked Carroll at the back post. With all the goal to shoot at, Carroll’s shot was too close to the advancing Reis, who got just enough of his shoulder in the way to keep it out of the net.

Undaunted, the Union kept up the pressure, with Michael Farfan and Adu again combining up the left flank, finding it easiest to work against the plodding Lechner, winning a corner. Despite Okugo’s near-opener in the first half, the Union began to employ a series of short corners, to little effect. When one such corner was quickly cleared, Michael Farfan did well to step up, collecting the ball and drawing a foul, setting up Carlos Valdes in a similar area from which he scored the Union’s lone goal from a set-piece against Columbus. Valdes would not have the same luck on this night however, cannoning his shot into the wall.

The provider for much of the night, Adu had a chance to play finisher in the 57th minute when the ball was squared into his path in the box. But when he could not get firm contact on his shot, New England raced the other way. Lee Nguyen led the break, but under the attentions of Okugo, he could only whip a hopeful ball into the box, which Valdes dealt with comfortably.

Kelyn Rowe entered the match with New England manager Jay Heaps looking to spark his offense into life, and when Gabriel Farfan crushed Rowe in an aerial challenge, the Revolution had the chance to bring their big men forward. Long a weakness for the Union, their set piece defense let them down once again, but when McCarthy managed to break free in the box, he could not find the direction on his header, powering it past MacMath’s near post.

Having absorbed pressure for the first hour of the match, the Revolution were suddenly finding chances. MacMath had to be alert in the 64th minute when he  raced out of his box to intercept the long ball intended for Bengtson.

Both teams refreshed their lineups with substitutes as they prepared for a late game push, with Jack McInerney replacing Hoppenot up front for the Union.

While the Union were finding space up the flanks, there were few inroads cut into the Revolution’s box and they were forced to settle for corner kicks. Taken short, they were ineffective.

In the 85th minute, an awkward bounce nearly cost the Union the match, but MacMath saved the day, keeping his clean sheet. After Valdes did well to race across and cut off the streaking Bengtson, Williams’ attempted clearance was charged down. Deflecting across the face of goal, Rowe was in the right place at the right time, but scrambling across his goal, MacMath made a smart save at his near post, preserving the shutout.

Josue Martinez, who entered the match for Danny Cruz, had a chance to steal the match at the death, but was put off of his jump by Alston, placing his header well over the bar.

With next weekend’s international break, the Union have off until September 15 when they travel to Toronto FC.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

PHILADELPHIA UNION

Goals

0

0

Attempts on goal

9

18

Shots on target

3

7

Shots off target

4

8

Possession

35.1%

64.9%

Corners

3

10

Fouls

12

14

Offsides

3

3

Total passes

247

487

Passing accuracy

68%

84.6%

Yellow cards

1

1

Red cards

0

0

 

Philadelphia Union

Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan; Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Michael Farfan; Danny Cruz (Josue Martinez ‘84), Antoine Hoppenot (Jack McInerney ’67), Freddy Adu (Keon Daniel ’80)

Unused substitutes: Chris Konopka, Roger Torres, Raymon Gaddis, Gabriel Gomez

New England Revolution

Matt Reis; Kevin Alston, Darrius Barnes, Stephen McCarthy, Flo Lechner; Lee Nguyen, Clide Simms (Ryan Guy ’50), Benny Feilhaber; Fernando Cardenas (Kelyn Rowe ’59), Diego Fagundez (Dimitry Imbongo ’76), Jerry Bengtson

Unused substitutes: Tim Murray, Blake Brettschneider, Tyler Polak, Michael Roach

Scoring Summary

None

Discipline Summary

58 – NER: Nguyen (caution)

62 – PHI: Adu (caution)

Referee

Drew Fischer

9 Comments

  1. No cheerleaders, no mascot: Union win 0-0.

  2. The Revolution my be near the bottom of the table in points but they are near the top of the table in gteat soccer hair. So they arre near the top of the table in my heart.

  3. James Korman says:

    Last six games zero goals by a forward. Yikes!

    • We couldn’t hit a barn door from 30 paces right now……Where are you Seb?

    • Philly Cheese says:

      Long past time to put three “potential” finishers on pitch at same time. Why not Hoffman, Jack Mac, and Cruz with Hoppenot coming in for one of those three at 60 minutes based on finess and performance? Hoppenot alone is not enough, and Hoffman at least provides some bulk to withstand the bumps and shoves that Hoppenot cannot handle.

      • James Korman says:

        If Hoffman is considered our ‘bulk’ it really says a lot about our currently assembled roster of speedsters.

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