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Analysis & player ratings: Union 1-0 Revolution

Photo: Barb Colligon

Three games, three goals for Jack McInerney, who finally sits alone atop the Union’s scoring chart.

With his options limited by the suspension of Sheanon Williams and injuries to Danny Cruz and Freddy Adu, manager John Hackworth selected a conservative lineup to face a Revolution side who have been far more substantially hit by the injury bug in 2012.

New England stinks

Those injuries have affected New England at every level, from Saer Sene’s goalscoring, to Lee Nguyen’s playmaking, to Stephen McCarthy’s physical defending, to Chris Tierney’s set piece delivery. But injuries are part of the game, and the rest of Jay Heaps’ side looked to have their minds on the offseason far too soon.

While it is understandable to see rookies like Kelyn Rowe and Alec Purdie struggling under the adversity, it is quite another story to see veterans like Clyde Simms and Benny Feilhaber shrink from the fight.

Of course Jerry Bengtson should have tucked home in the first half, but aside from that and Ryan Guy’s late header, the Revs rarely even had the ball in the attacking third.

Some credit is due to the home side for being good enough to win this one, but in truth, New England lost this contest far more than the Union won it.

Too many cooks in the kitchen

At home, facing a feeble, struggling opponent, Hackworth’s approach was again too cautious.

Two holding midfielders—three if Gabriel Gomez is included—were always going to be too overkill against a Revolution squad that could only boast Feilhaber as an attacking threat through the center of midfield.

With Keon Daniel and Michael Farfan on the wings, Hackworth deployed a five-man midfield, all of whom were looking to create.

But what about finishing?

For Hackworth’s 4-2-3-1 to be successful, all three of the attacking midfielders must get into the box to support the lone striker, while trying to finish chances themselves. Danny Cruz’s boundless energy was missed, and even Freddy Adu’s desire for goal would have had been an improvement over Gomez’s center of the park torpor.

Of the three midfield attackers that Hackworth did choose, Michael Farfan looked the only player to even try his luck in the box, with Keon Daniel preferring to orchestrate from distance and Gomez, as in any real foot race, coming in last.

All hail Jack McInerney

From forgotten man to focal point of the Union attack, McInerney is the first young Union striker in the history of the club to actually grow and develop. Period.

Drafting so young always meant that the Union would be required to take their lumps while waiting for the inexperienced to find their stride.

Hackworth deserves some respect for showing patience with McInerney through good and bad, continuing to thrust his young striker back into the fire, however much necessity may have been a factor.

And McInerney is finally taking his chances. With a swagger to his game that comes from finding his touch in front of goal, it was almost surprising when he did not bury his early chance against Shuttleworth, a rare optimistic sentiment when discussing the Union’s strike force in 2012.

But where he might have hung his head in the past, McInerney redoubled his efforts, crashing the New England box like a bull in a china shop. Whether it was Barnes or Soares trying to track him, McInerney ran smartly to make space for himself and fearlessly to try and latch onto the opener.

With Josue Martinez looking for all the world a bust, Antoine Hoppenot remaining very effective as a late game substitute, and Chandler Hoffman still a complete unknown, Union supporters can at least hang their hats on the knowledge that they possess a legitimate, double-digit goalscoring threat for 2013.

Player Ratings

Zac MacMath – 5

After panicking against Jerry Bengtson in the first half, MacMath got his dancing shoes on to deny Fernando Cardenas before getting down quickly to smother Ryan Guy’s late header. His poor handling and distribution have officially been upgraded from a minor issue to a major concern.

Ray Gaddis – 6

Burnt tracks up and down the right flank as Michael Farfan looked for him early and often. Remains one of the few Union players who understands the value of a low driven cross, especially with only one undersized player crashing the goal.

Amobi Okugo – 6

Smart and composed under pressure, Okugo stepped higher to deprive the Revolution possession in the final third. Hopefully he enjoyed the walk in the park because in the final three matches, nor maybe even in the rest of his career, will he see an offense as impotent as New England’s.

Carlos Valdes – 6.5

A clutch performance from the captain who neutralized Bengtson, New England’s only realistic attacking threat. Got the ball back into the attack quickly as he insured that the Revolution’s rare attacking foray was always a one-off.

Gabriel Farfan – 6

Up against a makeshift fullback in Ryan Guy, Farfan’s activity and involvement kept the Revs defender on the back foot, unsure of whether to key in on Keon Daniel or stick with the marauding fullback. Made Hackworth’s selection job all the more difficult, as he clearly looks the best option at left back.

Brian Carroll – 6

With very little pressure applied by either Benny Feilhaber or Clyde Simms, Carroll had an easy night. With three attacking options in midfield, and two dangerous fullbacks, the veteran midfielder moved the ball on quickly to keep the Revs under constant pressure. Even put in a beautiful through ball of his own, only to see McInerney miss out on scoring the opener.

Michael Lahoud – 5

Consistent as ever in moving the ball quickly without any real positive influence, Lahoud was rightly deemed surplus against a Revolution attack that never showed up.

Keon Daniel – 6.5

After a nervous, timid start in which he was reticent to take chances, Daniel found the pace of the game, turning in his best match in a Union shirt. Sharp on both sides of the ball, Daniel also took over free kick duty, serving in consistently dangerous balls even before McInerney turned in the Union’s winner. While it was undoubtedly a step in the right direction, Daniel must turn in similar performances against quality opponents before his selection should be automatic.

Gabriel Gomez – 4

With both pairs of flank players threatening to open up the Revs defense and McInerney working tirelessly to find the opener, Gomez was the only player who failed to raise his level. Never turned up to fill his role as attacking fulcrum and when he pushed forward to support McInerney, he was far too slow to cause any real trouble.

Michael Farfan – 6

Back on the wing where he looked so strong in his rookie season, Farfan looked capable of creating a goal throughout, whether he was leaving players in his wake on the dribble or picking apart the Revolution defense with his well-weighted passing. Shows a veteran composure and headiness on the ball, forcing his defender to commit to the tackle before effortlessly passing beyond him.

Jack McInerney – 7

A second consecutive Man of the Match performance from the tireless McInerney. Kept his head up after missing an early chance and stormed the box with unceasing energy until he finally won the match for the home side. With no other attacker getting into the box with consistency, McInerney rose to the challenge, running at Shuttleworth’s goal at every opportunity.


Antoine Hoppenot – 6

Tortured the Revolution defense with his hard running and tight marking. Simms, Guy and Feilhaber (twice) all went into the book after Hoppenot proved more than they could handle.

Roger Torres – 4.5

Moved the ball more quickly and effectively than Gomez, but nearly gave away another penalty with a bump in Feilhaber’s back late in the match. Torres’ problem is not actually that he doesn’t play defense, but rather how goes about defending.

Chris Albright – 5

Again used to batten down the hatches as the Union sweat out a victory, Albright did the job, including an important header won at the top of the Union’s box.

Geiger Counter

Jorge Gonzalez – 5

His theatrics and wild gesticulation get old quickly, but in a match so lacking in quality, Gonzalez did his job. With nothing on the line for either team, Gonzalez made sure the match didn’t descend into petty fouling and when New England lost their cool late in the match, the referee showed no hesitation in doling out both yellow and red cards.

Preferred Starting XI against Houston at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday, 20 October


MacMath; Williams, Okugo, Valdes, G. Farfan, Carroll, Lahoud; Daniel, Adu, M. Farfan, McInerney


  1. I think we’re about at the point where we say that we can’t keep Ray Gaddis off the pitch.

    Plus, as you’ve said many times — and I agree — Lahoud really is rather superfluous in our system.

    So how about having Sheannon & Ray as fullbacks, leaving Carroll as the sole D-middie, playing Gabe Farfan and Keon on the wings, Michael Farfan in the middle, and Freddie and Jack Mac up top? This gives us a wealth of attacking options, which we clearly need.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      I love it, I’ve advocated for it, but I can’t see it happening in 2012. If Hack is unwilling to dispense with 2 DMs against Revolution JV, there’s no way he goes for it against real teams.

      There’s always next year.

      • Point taken. Of course, the other way to look at it is: if we can only manage 1 goal against the beat-up half-assed Revolution, how on earth are we going to score any against the Dynamo or KC (two of our 3 remaining opponents)?? I suppose we could meet Hack’s logic halfway and say OK, fine, play Carroll + Lahoud when the Red Bulls come to town and you need all hands to take care of Henry & Cooper, but not against the suffocating KC defense.

    • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

      For the Gaddis thing – at what point can we simply say that he is a fantastic backup and keep him there. That is what good teams have – great benches and backups that in most teams deserve to start.
      This matters because I am hesitant to move Williams to LB. He looks like a legit contender for best RB in the MLS at some point, and switching from RB to LB isn’t really a “no sweat” move to me. (not like the forgone conclusion most have that Okugo will go back to Dmid at some point)

  2. I’m not sure what Hoppenot does to opposing players that gets them so angry, but I hope he keeps doing it. I wouldn’t have predicted that our ivy league velocista would be generating such hostility. I got a good look at Feilhaber’s temper tantrum on Saturday night and I will not forget that look on his face.

  3. Philly Cheese says:

    Great commentary and good ratings. Lahoud is acknowledged as “surplus” but keeps making recommended lineup. Hoffman is so forgotten that Union left him off the list of subs that was released by their twitter site for Saturday, as only six were listed.
    Wish suggested lineup would include giving Hoffman a start in Houston with Jack Mac, but Hack’s lack of interest has probably worn PSP down. If management is convinced they need a “big time striker or two” acquisition in off season, may as well trade Hoffman for some allocation money, despite his GA status, because Jack and Hoppenot appear to have second striker slot sewed up for 2013.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      GA status = MLS jail. Hoffman will get his chance next year. Honestly he could play the final 270 minutes of the season and be miles away from graduating GA, but you’re right. Hackworth doesnt seem interested.

    • Sean Doyle says:

      Chandler’s a great kid and I really want to see him on the pitch because he’s such a predator inside the 18. I’m sure a partnership with Jack Mac up top with Freddy tucked in behind them would yield much DOOP.

      And FWIW, Hoffman was caught pulling a Seba LeToux after the game, signing alot of autographs and making lots of kids very happy.

      • Anybody think maybe we could get the real Seba back next year? Not sure that he’s really lit any fires with the Red Bulls. His contract is up, so doesn’t that mean he can go where he wants? And presumably he might be interested in coming back here since Nowak’s gone.

      • Considering his year his price has probably gone down. But I’m not sure he is the answer.

      • Have you seen LeToux play this year? There’s a reason why he’s bounced from team to team and gotten very limited playing time.

      • Yes, maybe. The question is whether his skill set and tendencies would duplicate McInerney too much, or whether they’d complement each other. Le Toux isn’t a top-shelf midfielder, so they should bring him in to play striker or probably not at all.

  4. Why are we not seeing Pfeffer, McLaughlin and/or Hernandez in these matches? What is the point of signing these guys if they can’t get varsity playing time in meaningless home games.

    Did we really need to see Lahoud and Gomez instead of any two of these guys?

    On the other hand, if they aren’t up to snuff, can we at least be honest about it and let them get on with their lives?

    • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

      I totally wanted to see Pfeffer be our last sub. I think all three should get atleast a half; I understand you never want to do that thing out of a sense of obligation but there is really no reason to hold them back. It ain’t like this is a team full of question marks and issues. We pretty much know who we are keeping, who should go, and what kind of new players we need.

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