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Winners and losers: Union preseason Matchday 2

With the focus on the reserves against Columbus, the Union continued to limp into 2013, suffering a 4-0 drubbing from the Crew. There were few plaudits to hand out given the team’s generally dire display, but three players raised their hands for the Union—two for a second time—on a day the team would do well to forget.


1. Leo Fernandes
Two matches into the preseason and the discussion about Fernandes has turned from if he will play, to where. One of the few to feature in both of the Union’s first matches, Fernandes showed confidence and drive against Columbus. The next step for Fernandes is to harness that energy and focus on bringing in his wide players, placing his shots on target, and being more careful in possession. From the looks of the early preseason, he can do that and is poised to fight for a place in the 18 having seemingly earned himself a contract.

2. Stephen Okai
Okai’s level of polish was definitely as advertised, with the central midfielder looking comfortable slotting into the Union lineup. Like Fernandes, had some extra energy to burn up which caused him to play a little too frenetically at times, but given the circumstances of his first Union appearance, that is understandable. If the Union persist with this defensive 4-3-3 look, Okai could be one of the first midfield subs off the bench.

3. Roger Torres
For the second match running, Roger Torres’ introduction simply changed the complexion of the Union. Far more deliberate than either Fernandes or Okai, Torres took the game to Columbus, bringing in wide players who had barely a sniff before his arrival. Torres wants a spot in the starting XI and based on performances like these, John Hackworth will be hard-pressed to deny him.


1. Michael Lahoud
On the back of another shaky performance at defensive midfield, Lahoud may be looking up at not only Carroll and Okugo, but also Okai and Jordan on the depth chart. His sloppiness in possession cannot be overlooked, as he recklessly coughed up the ball all over the park. Additionally, as the most senior player in the starting lineup, Lahoud would have been looked to for leadership and consistency in the heart of the Union midfield. What the Union coaching staff got, was a nervy, choppy performance that failed to inspire confidence.

2. Don Anding
This is the guy for which the Union passed on Greg Cochrane? Ouch. Anding struggled to impose himself at left back, looking awkward and downright uncomfortable alongside Schoenle and Jordan in the back four. Once he was moved forward into Hoffman’s withdrawn winger slot, Anding should have stretched his legs and showed off his elite speed, the reason the Union gave for picking him so high in the draft. No such luck. Columbus bullied Anding off the park, welcoming the rookie to MLS and reminding him that life is a lot different in the pros.

3. Chandler Hoffman

Following the frustration of 2012, the Union’s former first round draft will have been bitterly disappointed with his performance on Wednesday. Billed to all the world as an out-and-out striker, Hoffman was forced to accept a left wing role in a side that could do little more than dribble up the center of the park and punt balls forward to Hoppenot. With opportunities as a true forward looking harder and harder to come by under the thus far conservative approach of Hackworth, Hoffman will have to accept his place on the depth chart for now and wonder what he has to do to get a legitimate chance up front. Until he is given a realistic opportunity playing among the forwards, he will remain impossible to evaluate.

4. John Hackworth
While the overall lack of experience accounts for much of the team’s display against Columbus, the Union manager also deserves to shoulder blame for his team’s lack of cohesion. In two matches, the Union have featured two formations and have looked uncertain in both, lacking not only confidence on the ball, but simple awareness of the players around them. Route 1 has become the only road forward for defenders and midfielders alike, who too often are resorting to lumping balls forward rather retaining possession and building out of the back.

Additionally, with back-to-back matches on Friday and Saturday, it appears that Hackworth picked the wrong game to focus on only his reserves, as his top-tier players have seen their preseason reduced to a maximum of three games. In the preseason, players don’t need to a full week between matches, and Hackworth’s decision to ice his starters on Wednesday just means less time for the guys who will be on the pitch come March 2 to develop chemistry.

Still, with 270 minutes to play before the games start counting, Hackworth gets the benefit of the doubt. But with every preseason match where the Union look weak and uncertain offensively, struggling to impose shape or rhythm to their game, the lack of an obvious system will bring the Union coach under fire from fans who are expecting more.


  1. THANK YOU for exposing Lahoud. I truly hope he is one of the cuts before the final roster takes shape.

    I still have no idea how he played as much as he did last year. Lazy, sloppy – no purpose. (And no, not talking about Adu).

    Hoping Fernandes takes his roster spot.

    • Yes for as much as we talked about cleaning house of Diego Gutierrez. Lahoud is a boneheaded Nowak trade. When you are getting players that Chivas doesn’t rate you know you are in trouble.

    • The Black Hand says:

      As odd as it would seem, I feel like the team looked completely flat when Lahoud was left out of the lineup last year. I, too, think that his skills are lacking but his intensity might be tops on the team. He is not a bad player, for the most part. He will wear down the opposition with his hustle. I see Lahoud/Cruz/Daniel as utility players with none of the three really impressing. However it did seem like the club were lacking when Lahoud was left out, as opposed to the other two.

  2. Loser: Harrison: makes McMath look like Schmeichel
    Reading this, I got a thought: Could Hoppenot be our starting outside left midfielder? We really dont have quality on the left side of the park and with some defensive teaching he may prove to be effective on that side.
    Maybe something like this:
    Williams…Soumare..Parke…G. Farfan/Someone Else
    M. Farfan…………..Torres…………..Hoppenot
    ……..Le Toux………………………………
    Ideally I’d start Mack over Casey and if behind late Casey for CDM or ahead late CF for second CDM

    • Andrew 'Calm' Down says:

      I still don’t understand why people can’t accept that Gabe is our starting LB.

    • What is the big infatuation with Hoppenot? The man has no touch. Teams where on to him after 2 games. Where is his ball skill? Starting left midfielder..lol. He is better coming of the bench to run at opponents tired defences. He is not a challenge to bigger stronger teams. Since he has limited ball skill why would he be anyones starter? Having to rely on Hoppenot type players is why changes were needed this past of season.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        Completely agree. He nearly made the Losers list considering he does not appear to have improved on his touch in the final third at all since last year. In the end, it seemed harsh to pick on him after that match considering how much was being asked of him in that setup. He can add a spark in the late game, but must raise his level on the ball before he can be a consistent contributor outside of just drawing PKs.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Mac’s touch is as bad, if not worse.

      • The team is full of players with poor touch on the ball…Ive seen everybody from Le Toux to Williams to Mack talked about lacking touch. Cruz is apparently our starting right mid…would you argue he has a soft touch?
        I guess we’ll stick with Daniel (with his golden touch and ball skills)…he seems to be the best option right?

      • That is why I said Hoppenot type players. we know what Le Toux, Williams and Mack can do. We also know what Hoppenot,Cruz and players like them can’t do and why they should not start.

      • Curious, working within our roster, who do you suggest we start at right mid and left mid?

      • Not that opinion matters, M.Farfan and K. Daniels. It gives the Union better holders than Hoppenot. They are better with the ball and can go 1 v 1 and move the ball.
        Cruz and Hoppenot can pinball around all day a accomplish nothing.

      • My opinion is that Daniel is slow, has poor vision, composure and rather weak 1v1 while Hoppenot would not only provide attitude but speed on the wing, he draws fouls going at players 1v1 and could be very effective on the counter and played into space.
        We must have been watching completely different Daniel over the years.

      • Hoppenot can’t pass, receive,finish, and has poor lateral movement with the ball. He gives as many fouls as he gets. Again he is bette running at tired defenses as a sub. It’s up to the Union to upgrade that position. In my opinion until that happens Daniel is a better fit.

      • At least we agree that left mid is in need of an upgrade…

      • The Black Hand says:

        Marfan and Cruz would be my starters, with Torres in the CAM.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        Anding wasn’t sharp against Columbus, but he could be a realistic left-sided option as well. Fast and naturally left footed. thats at least a start.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Haven’t seen enough to say. I would welcome anyone. Cruz seems like the best option, but that is hardly a vote of confidence in him.

  3. Good call on Hackworth. Preseason is not only about getting fit. Its about building confidence. The fans are not the only once lacking confidence right not. It appears the players themselves are not demonstrating faith in the team, and their ability.

    • Absolutely, Hackworth better prove he can manage grownups. That Crew game didn’t appear to show anything different in strategy from last year. Montreal, Columbus,and other teams seem to be prepared for the Union with very little effort required. Hopefully our starters will be able to show something before the start of the season. Why is this team showing little or no chemistry?

  4. I didn’t get to watch much of the game, but is there any word on how Jordi Vidal played?

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      He’s very small. His touch is reasonable but he failed to make much of an impact, positive or negative on either match.

  5. I really enjoyed the announcers. They made me look good.

  6. Watching the play-offs last year, I kept thinking that we could have had Tommy Meyer instead of Hoffman.

    Don’t get me wrong, Hoffman could end up being a good pro, but we’ll likely never know as he’s buried on the Union’s bench.

    Lahoud seems like a really nice guy, but I don’t see him sticking on this roster. I can’t count how many times last season where the ball ended up with him with an opportunity to link play to a player in an attacking position and he just couldn’t do it.

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