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Reports & reaction from Union win, City Islanders preseason begins, USMNT injury woes, more.

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union

It was far from pretty—35.8 percent of possession, 63 percent passing accuracy, six shots, three on target—but the Union got the job done in Colorado on Sunday. Given the long travel time, the altitude, the postponement, the cold and the wind the Union endured against a Colorado team who, like the Union, were looking for their first win of the season in their home opener, some ugliness can perhaps be forgiven. Until Saturday, at least. In the meanwhile, the Union are in fourth place in the East, sixth in the league.

John Hackworth said,

We knew coming here it was going to be extremely difficult. We were going to have to drop our line and defend more than we normally do. I would say us going up a goal we kind of sat back too much and gave them too much of the ball, [Colorado] tried to get the equalizer and did. But credit to our guys they fought hard and capitalized on a sequence there to get the win…

We are a team that likes to push the game. We are a team that likes to press…but with being here for two days, sitting in the hotel, watching the storm dealing with the weather and the delays it was going to be asking a lot to come in here and take this game to them.

Jack McInerney said, “We usually like to have possession, but today it was better to sit back. The defense did a good job holding it down. That was the gameplan: defend first.”

McInerney said of his game-winning goal, “Antoine did a good job holding up the ball, and he beat his defender. I made up a run, he put up a perfect pass and it stopped right in front of me and it was an easy finish.”

Antoine Hoppenot said, “I was able to turn and face the defenders, and he (Jack McInerney) made a great run across, and I just put it in his path. He’ll finish those most of the time.”

In Colorado, they’re talking about a goalkeeping error leading to Amobi Okugo’s goal, his first in MLS. Okugo’s celebration was perfect.

Vote Amobi Okugo for Top 3 Performer of the Week.

Match reports and recaps in what was was the Union’s first-ever win over Colorado and the Rapids first home opener loss in ten years from PSP, MLSsoccer.com, PhiladelphiaUnion.com, Union Tally, Philly Soccer NewsUnion Dues, Brotherly Game, Philly Sports Live, The Denver Post, Burgundy Wave, SBI, Goal.com, ProSoccerTalk, The AP, and  Sports Network.

Andy Jasner writes that the Union showed great resolve in pulling out the win.

The anticipated return of Conor Casey to face his former club did not happen with Casey staying back in Philly with a hamstring injury.

Local

Harrisburg City Islanders begin preseason training today ahead of the season opener against Pittsburgh Riverhounds on April 13. At the Patriot News, Michael Bullock has an informative piece that details what the lead up to the start of the season involves for the team’s coaching staff. Head coach Bill Becher says he does not yet know which Union players will be going on loan to the club. “Nothing’s set yet. Obviously, it will impact the rest of our roster once we find out what positions we’re getting.”

MLS

In the Eastern Conference, Montreal is in first place after picking up their second road win of the season, defeating Portland 2-1. Columbus is in second place after losing 2-1 to Vancouver, while Kansas City is in third after losing 2-1 to Toronto, who are now in sixth place. Houston, who had the weekend off due to Champions League play, are in fifth place, one spot behind the Union. This Saturday’s foe, New England, are in seventh place after defeating Chicago, who are winless and in last place, 1-0. DC United is in eighth place with a 1-0 win over Salt Lake courtesy of a goal from some guy named Lionard Pajoy. New York is in ninth place after giving up the lead to San Jose and losing 2-1.

All three Canadian teams were victorious over the weekend—it was Toronto’s first win since July—as was the league’s Mexican team.

At the Guardian, Graham Parker has five things learned from the weekend’s games.

At ESPN, Roger Bennett asks this crucial question: Can you call yourself a US Soccer fan if you don’t support MLS?

The New York Times looks at how a new stadium has helped propel Houston into the top quarter of income generators in MLS.

Elk Grove, which is just outside of Sacramento, is looking for land to use for a proposed $100 million new soccer stadium.

US

The US is facing a string of injuries with the next round of World Cup qualifiers less than two weeks away. Tim Howard is sidelined for a month with two broken ribs, Fabian Johnson has a “hip issue,” Edgar Castillo is recovering from broken bones in his face, and Clint Dempsey has missed four games with Tottenham with a calf injury.

Brad Friedel has offered to come out of retirement to help the team if necessary.

The USWNT defeated China 5-0 on Friday in group play at the Algarve Cup. The US faces Sweden, now coached by former USWNT head coach Pia Sundhage, today at 10am.

Hope Solo is out 3-4 months after undergoing surgery to repair cartilage damage in her wrist.

The USWNT U-20s were defeated 3-0 by Germany on Saturday at the 12-Nations Tournament in La Manga, Spain. They face Sweden today.

Elsewhere

On Saturday, supporters of the Cairo based al-Ahly club set the headquarters of the Egyptian Football Federation and a police social club on fire after a judge acquitted a number of supporters of the Port Said-based Al-Masry club in connection with the riot that left 76 supporters al-Ahly fans dead last February. The judge also confirmed a January ruling sentencing 21 Al-Masry supporters to death for their involvement in the killings.

Asian Football Confederation Secretary General Dato’ Alex Soosay talks to Goal.com’s Nicolas Anil about the match-fixing epidemic in Asia.

50 Comments

  1. Jack : “It was an easy finish.”
    That’s why I love his play. A total finisher. continue to give him 90 minutes a game and watch him become one of the best finishers in the league.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Incredible cockiness from McInerney. Especially since he has failed to put away as many chances as he has put away. I think he has something but can’t stand the arrogance displayed by a player so young and unproven.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        I don’t read it as cockiness in the slightest. I believe that he was trying to deflect praise to hoppenot who made the play beautifully. In my opinion he was saying not that it was easy for him, but that Hoppenot did the hard work on that particular play, giving him a goal scoring opportunity on a silver platter.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I guess I’m pulling, more, from past comments made by Jack. Always got the feeling that Jack thinks Jack is the best.

      • ebradlee10 says:

        The best scorers always feel they’re the best.

      • +1.

        And furthermore, he got it around the defender and around the keeper into the perfect spot at the far post. A guy who says that’s an easy finish is exactly who I want finishing on my team.

      • He certainly doesn’t have a great conversion rate I’m sure, but I also think he has the best on this team. If you want to look at someone who misses more than he hits, look at LT who really is capable of missing some sitters.
        Plus a player like Jack is exactly what we need. This team is young, we need some of that youth to come with confidence.

      • The Black Hand says:

        The club needs a quality, veteran midfielder to come in and show the club how to play the game. It surely is not coming from the coaches.

      • Cockiness comes from his from hid goal celebration… I remember thinking when he was doing his bows. “What a dick.”

      • Jeremy Lane says:

        Maybe so, but strikers thrive on confidence. I’d rather have a cocky striker than a timid one.

      • Fair nuff. Being a dick isn’t always bad… It just kind of means you’re a dick

      • The Black Hand says:

        Oddly, I thought the bow was fantastic.

      • JediLos117 says:

        I effin loved it, was so stoked!

      • The Black Hand says:

        I did as well. There is a difference between having some swagger and being a cocky prick. Mac slotted away the game-winner, and it wasn’t as easy as it looked, so his arrogant bow was somewhat merited. When Jack plays a completely ineffective game (many, many times) and then throws his teammates under the bus saying, “I can’t do this all on my own…”, then I have a problem with the young striker. I like him and want to see him improve, but also want him to keep his head the right size and concentrate on getting better.

      • As
        long
        as
        he
        keeps
        scoring
        he
        can
        be
        a
        total
        dick
        wad.
        Amirite?

      • swing and a miss says:

        yeah i hate it when my team scores goals and has the audacity to celebrate it.

    • It seems he is only capable of finishing the easy ones. How many times have we ever seen him create his own chance or convert a difficult setup. Completely missed a beautifully served up ball by Marfan yesterday.

      The WORST part, twice yesterday a ball was played to him a little too far, and he just gave up, hung his head and lifted his hands in frustration instead of running down the ball. Way too cocky for his age.

      • The second-worst part is that the next time he acknowledges on-field a good pass from a teammate will be the first.

  2. I like McInerney. He is a piece of the puzzle and gives the Union another dimension. However, he is not the go to guy. I think he knows what works for him. He needs someone to run off of to be effective. He can be outstanding against defenses like Colorado but he can be boxed out and rendered ineffective hence the need for Connors and Le Toux. Hackworth is not a pro coach. At some point he will need to be replaced. If Edson Buddle had been able to play the Union would have had a hard time adjusting. Soumare has not played since last season. We don’t have a clue as to how he can make a difference. He was once a top defender. How do you not play him. I mentioned before that Hackworth has tunnel vision and has no game plan for the pro level. The Union won and that’s what counts, however, it had nothing to do with Hackworth.

    • Josh Trott says:

      I disagree. This was a situation where the Union decided to play counter-attack, and sit deep. You saw Le Toux refrain from his normal chasing deep in opponent territory.

      It worked. I’ve seen us look dogged in the last thirty in Colorado, but we had the energy to win. We don’t know how Soumare plays- his minutes have been only mediocre- and Okugo scored and looked fantastic and Park was good too. I’m not sure what your critique is.

    • JediLos117 says:

      I also disagree.
      .
      Excellent game plan. Its a marathon season and the U went to Colorado looking for a tie, nothing wrong with that.
      .
      Hack did an excellent job getting ready for this game and during this game.
      .
      It seems to me he knew he wanted to bring Hoppenot in late to specifically pair him with McInherney before the game even started. Le Toux was having a much better overall game than Jack.
      .
      G. Farfan for Daniel instead of Torres, Lahoud sub…all screams get a point, again nothing wrong with that…
      .
      Excellent 3 point grab with winable game on horizon.

      • Keep telling yourself that.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Really? Sounds a little too optimistic to be serious, from you Jedi. Hackworth had the team prepared? There was a gameplan? That match was one of the worst I have seen the Union play…and the says A LOT. Hackworth showed that we will make no attempt at a victory and that was evident from the first touch. Okugo scored, due to blown coverage on a set piece, and if not for a superhuman effort from Hoppenot, we don’t get the winner. If Hack’s plan was to play awful and get lucky, then I agree with you. Otherwise, I saw nothing from but reenforcing a turtle shell. We lose that match 9/10 times. I am as thrilled as anyone, to get the points, but can’t join in saying that it was designed and earned.

      • JediLos117 says:

        Im serious, game plan was get a point, not lose. If you process this win from that point of view…plan worked better than designed.

      • The Black Hand says:

        While I agree that it was mission accomplished, I would scratch those tactics(?????) from future game plans.

      • i’m with you on this one, black

      • The Black Hand says:

        Solidarity!!!

      • Exactly. If this was the inaugural season of the Union then a win of any sort would be acceptable. However, playing this style against an extremely weakened Rapids team? Against LA, Seattle, San Jose, Houston, NY etc this tactic(if that’s what it’s being called) would be seen as smart coaching. The Union were inches from actually loosing.

      • JediLos117 says:

        I think a lot of Union fans think the team and players individually are better than they really are.
        .
        What I saw yesterday was a coach provide a game plan, a team stick to a game plan and a weaker team unexpectedly take 3 points on the road.
        .
        They overachieved. Wins like this one may be the best our team can do this year.
        .
        I’ll take 3 points anytime by any means.

    • I’ll join that disagreement. Ugly game plan, but the Union won because of it. Credit Hackworth for both.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        Wow. You three need to pass some of that Kool-Aid. The Union completed 63% of their passing and were HIDEOUSLY bad in all phases of the game. Any other team in MLS, and I’m including Toronto and Chivas USA would have put the Union to the sword yesterday. All out defense is only a game plan when your defense is tight and organized, which the Union’s absolutely WAS NOT.

      • JediLos117 says:

        Speaking of Toronto, they completed 60% of their passes and had 32% of the possession in their win agains SKC.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        They were playing against a top MLS team, and they are still Toronto.

      • Yea seriously. If Colorado could finish they would have had 4 goals easy. 5 if Jack Mac wasn’t standing on the line.

      • yup. they absolutely won despite themselves. that game was awful.

      • The Black Hand says:

        The Union didn’t win that game. Colorado lost it. Awful display of management in every aspect of the game. Take comfort in the three points, but don’t say it was earned.

      • Well, whatever you call it, it was ugly, and it was 3 points. (I didn’t say this was impressive, mind you, or that I like it.)

      • The Black Hand says:

        You made mention that it was by design, that is my only cause for objection. I’ll take three, any way I can get them, but can’t claim that we weren’t gifted that one. The team and tactic, set up by Hackworth, gave up 4 goals (easily); luck kept 3+ out of the goal. Parke, Okugo and Alejandro Moreno are the only three members of the Union to earn that win.

  3. Again, new year, same team. This team always has played better ugly than they do when they try to “control” the game. A team can not be a possession team and a physical team at the same time.
    Other notes:
    Can Jack McInerney control a ball with something other than his feet? Ex: He squandered a chance in the first half trying to control a lofted serve that was chest high with his foot. He did this more than once in the match.
    I am trying to stay positive with Zach in goal, but the lack of try on Colorado’s goal. He didn’t even get his kit dirty. Ok, the ground may have been frozen, but still…

    • The Black Hand says:

      I think that Mac’s touch is getting better, it used to be really bad. Still much more work to go.
      I hate that Zac MacMath is our starting goalkeeper. (I might have said that before) However, I think that he resembled a real goalie, after the first 65′-70′. He just needed to warm up…for 40 or so games. Clean sheets from here on out.

  4. I commented elsewhere that the game plan looked more like a sock-it-in defend type and am glad to hear that I wasn’t as out of touch as I thought. That being said, it also made sense to not have Le2 doing his normal ballchasing since the change in oxygen levels in Colorado is so tough an adjustment for visitors.

    By the way- Boyertown’s Nicole Barnhart is the USWNT goalkeeper now. Injuries aren’t the best way to get the job, but let’s give her some local attention.

  5. If Howard can’t go for the two games later this month, Friedel is probably our best bet, since he has been getting quality minutes for Tottenham in the Europa League.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      Brad Guzan has been nearly flawless facing a weekly firing squad behind Villa’s sieve-like defense. He is the right man for the job in Howard’s absence, and may become the full time starter even when Timmy gets healthy.

  6. I dont mind a striker with confidence but sometimes he needs to create a little. If you look at his goals how often does he actually make or improve a chance. Also how often does he miss opportunities. It seems he needs the ball on a platter then he scores. People always talk about letoux as having a lead foot touch but how often does mac settle the ball in the box and shoot on target. It seems that answer is never. I think Jack and hop are a perfect combo as hop has speed and skill on the ball to set it in macs lane to score. also A little roger would help make him more successful as well.

  7. A win is a win. Didn’t really see to much improvement though.

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