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Union thoughts, post-friendly

Photo courtesy of Orlando City SC

Ten thoughts on Philadelphia Union after the club’s first preseason friendly on Saturday.

Ready? Go.

Most impressive Union player

Roger Torres, hands down. Torres put a swerving long-distance blast on net, assisted on the Union’s loan goal with a beautiful chip, and was active defensively, making at least two interceptions. Granted, Torres entered at the 60-minute mark with fresh legs against an Orlando lineup that had been running all game, and in three years, he has yet to show he can go 90 minutes. But he looked active, creative and composed. Now that he’s wearing the No. 10 jersey, let’s see if he can earn that role in the starting lineup.

Most impressive Orlando players

Forward Long Tan and goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo belong in MLS. Gallardo was the best goalkeeper on the field. Tan put in the game’s best performance by a forward. If he can keep his mouth shut and just play, he should find himself back in MLS. Considering Zac MacMath’s latest misadventure in goal showed he still lacks the poise for the starting role, the Union may want to get Gallardo’s phone number. Also impressive: forward Dennis Chin and center back Kieron Bernard.

Sebastien Le Toux — taking  a corner kick?

Really? It isn’t clear yet that he isn’t particularly good at them? That was my immediate reaction (and probably yours) when you saw him line up to take a corner in the 28th minute. Then he sent in decent service. While most are happy to have Le Toux back, this is the one area that sentiment doesn’t hold.

Notable absences

No Mike Lahoud. No Chris Albright. It’s just one preseason match, but the numbers game doesn’t look good for Albright with rookie center back Eric Schoenle and trialist left back Shaun Francis showing well so far. Lahoud probably sat because Greg Jordan needed some minutes to show he’s worth retaining on the roster.

No Chandler Hoffman, Stephen Okai or Don Anding either. Hoffman looks the odd man out in a crowded group of forwards. The absences of the draftees, new signing Alex Mendoza, and Jimmy McLaughlin probably aren’t as significant, as some of them will probably spend the season on loan at Harrisburg.

The starting defense looked weak

Jeff Parke and Amobi Okugo looked out of sync. Sheanon Williams looked out of sorts. Parke had no chemistry with his teammates, which isn’t surprising, since he just got to Union camp after featuring in the national team’s January camp. This is a work in progress.

Okugo: Not in midfield

No, it’s not surprising that he played central defense, but it is notable that he didn’t play a minute in midfield.

Beautiful goal by Le Toux Fernandes!

Yes, the announcer botched the goal call by crediting Le Toux, who wasn’t even on the field. Apparently having a British accent doesn’t automatically qualify you to broadcast soccer after all. The Fernandes goal was a thing of beauty, as he controlled a Torres chip with his chest and then one-timed a left-footed shot into the net.

Was that a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3?

The Union’s shape looked more a 4-4-2 at the outset, with a midfield diamond, Casey in a target role, and Le Toux doing his thing. It was harder to tell in the second half, perhaps because I was too busy identifying Union players whose names the announcers didn’t know. (Really? Poor form.) It looked more like a 4-3-3 in the second half, but that may be due to a skewed camera angle in the online video, which focused on the Union’s left flank, where Fernandes was often very advanced on the wing.

Who were those new guys?

Left back Shaun Francis (formerly of Columbus) and Jordi Vidal (formerly of Real Madrid) wore Nos. 16 and 8, respectively, and each looked decent in their first Union appearances. Fernandes (33) and fellow draftee Eric Schoenle (30) may join them in earning roster spots.

Dan ran into Union fans Matt and Nicole in Athens, Greece in January 2013. Photo: Dan Walsh.

Union fans Matt and Nicole in Athens, Greece in January 2013. (Photo: Dan Walsh)

Union fans … in Greece?

So, random detour:

I traveled recently to Greece, which is why you haven’t seen my weekly column in a few weeks. (Apparently I missed the memo that the Union aren’t training there this year!)

Little did I expect to run into Union fans in Athens, but sure enough, just across the street from Hadrian’s Arch, I met Matt and Nicole from Deptford, N.J. We chatted it a bit. It turns out they would have liked Union season tickets at one point but were told they were on a waiting list.

So hey, Matt and Nicole! If you’re out there and still interested (or if other readers know them), get in touch, and I’ll hook you up with Union ticket representative Alex Carrington, who has four open season ticket seats right in front of mine in section 121.

10 Comments

  1. Andrew 'Calm' Down says:

    Not only did the announcer say it was Le Toux’s goal, but the MLS highlights video on youtube had Torres as the goal scorer. The video has since been fixed and reuploaded

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      My favorite part was that they didn’t figure out who Fernandes was until roughly the 88th minute. Before that they talked about how hard it was to know because these guys are trialists and the teams don’t want to give away their identities. super fail.

  2. Glad to see fellow Deptford residents repping the Union abroad.

  3. Real Madrid player on loan? how good is he?

  4. Long Tan is a preseason monster, he tore it up last year as well.

    Until you mentioned Chandler, I had totally forgotten about him. Guess we’ll see if he gets any time on Wed.

  5. I understand the reasoning behind Generation Adidas, and I think it was a positive move overall, but it seems to be hurting some players more than helping them. I get the feeling that some teams are careful to limit those players’ time so they can keep them in the program and train their future superstar without paying their salary. I feel like Hoffman started out this way, and now with Hop and Fernandes and others coming into the picture he seems to be at the bottom of the pecking order. I see no reason to release him as he costs us nothing at this point, but I’d like to see him sent to Harrisburg or something to see if he can play at this level.

    • Philly Cheese says:

      I understand the off season target forward acquisition in Casey. Less enthusiastic that LeToux provides anything that developing Jack Mac, Hoppenot and Hoffman this year could have provided. Hoffman’s finishing ability will be shown eventually when he gets on the pitch more regularly. Let’s see how Chandler does if he gets the starting 60 minutes with the proposed 4-3-3 today. With the big financial and emotional investment in bringing LeToux back, it may be tough for Hoffman to put LeToux on bench. GA status should not penalize developing player, but It does seem to work,that way.

      • I agree, I’m happy with the Casey pick up as that’s exactly what we need. But I was never on board with bringing Le Toux back because the one thing you knew you were getting with him was 90 minutes, whether it was good or bad. I was afraid that would be the case again, which means Jack Mac or Hop would likely replace Casey and therefore the benefit of Casey – to hold up the ball and bigger defenders to free up Jack – would not be had. If Seba coming back wasn’t a PR move (which I firmly believe it was) and he was brought in to score, then he better score. If not, if he goes 20 games without a goal again then he better find his way to the bench.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I agree. The Casey pickup was a strong move. He is a talented player and his experience can help our young club. His age, and injuries, may limit his minutes but he is still an asset to the team. Le Toux was a complete PR move, done to endear Hack to the supporters. I don’t hate it. He is not a superstar, by any means, but he is a decent player and can help the club (as long as he never takes corners or free kicks). I think he will score a few, mostly penalties. The Orlando City match was disheartening, to say the least, but it was the first preseason match. The club needs to keep the ball on the pitch. Much of the game involved the ball floating aimlessly overhead. Hopefully, tonight will be an improvement.

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