Player ratings

Analysis & Player Ratings: Union 3-0 Crew

Photo: Michael Long

On the back of a rough two-game Canadian road trip, the Union needed a win going into the break. With no league match until June 23, it was important to shake off the recent rash of stale, uninspired road performances and build momentum.

Good thing that Brian Carroll was up for it.

The mild-mannered Union captain turned in a performance that not only helped his side on the score sheet but also provided energy and inspiration as they thrashed the hapless Columbus Crew. The 3-0 scoreline flattered the Crew, because the Union looked far more likely to grab a fourth than Columbus did to notch their first.

Le Toux is Cruzin’

Playing out on the right wing, Sebastien Le Toux put on a master class of how to play as an attacking player deployed as a wide midfielder.

Le Toux isn’t the kind of player who thrives with his back to goal. Nor will he make a living picking his way through midfield, exchanging tight, neat passes. What Le Toux can does exceedingly well is run onto balls to make a play. Against Columbus, he showed the confidence and smarts to push the ball out wide for himself. Taking only the minimum amount of touches to set himself up to whip in dangerous cross after dangerous cross, he rarely gave defenders a chance to recover.

On the evening, his play stood in sharp contrast to that of Danny Cruz on the opposite wing. With the ball at his feet, Cruz chose to dribble at his defender from distance. One of two things would inevitable happen. Either the double team would arrive and Cruz would be dispossessed, or he would cut onto his right foot before firing a low percentage shot rather than take the passing options he had in the box.

It’s not that Cruz does not have that service in his arsenal. In the 10th minute, Cruz set the counter attack into motion with an inch-perfect left-footed switch of fields that set Le Toux off to the races. The play ended with McInerney straying inches offside, but the build-up was excellent.

If Cruz can find the composure to simplify his game in the final third, limiting his touches and improving the quality of his service into the box, the Union could find themselves with two lethal wingers setting the table for two equally potent strikers.

Maturing McInerney

Le Toux’s influence is not only felt on the offensive side of the ball. Whether consciously, or otherwise, McInerney has begun to eat up ground defensively in a very similar manner to Le Toux. While so much attention given to McInerney’s goal-scoring feats, it is easy to miss just how much his overall game improved. Against Columbus, where McInerney could not seem to buy a goal, he stayed aggressive and focused.

While he didn’t show up on the score sheet, McInerney contributed critically to the Union’s third goal. It was a play that included two defensive battles won. Le Toux nicked the ball off Tyson Wahl to set the table for the scoring chance, but the ball was there to be won was because McInerney never quit on the play, charging down Glauber’s clearing pass and putting Wahl under pressure. As Le Toux raced up the right wing, McInerney floated to the center of the field. With Glauber stepping to Le Toux, that left Eric Gehrig to handle both Union strikers. Recognizing Conor Casey’s near post run, McInerney pushed hard for the back post.

On the broadcast, Alejandro Moreno rightly made the point that other players were getting into the scoring column because teams were now focusing more and more on McInerney. As McInerney curled his run to the back post, Gehrig followed, turning his hips to chase McInerney for the split second it took Casey to race into the clear.

Given the defensive tenacity and willingness to work for his teammates that McInerney showed on Wednesday night, John Hackworth just might be convinced that a starting lineup with McInerney, Casey and Le Toux is the Union’s best option.

Player Ratings

Zac MacMath – 6

Confident in the air, MacMath shut the door on the Crew as he was equal to the handful of long range efforts that went on target.

Sheanon Williams – 8

On the defensive end, Williams played Ben Speas right off the field after only 45 minutes. Going forward he linked well with Le Toux and powered home an acrobatic side volley.

Amobi Okugo – 7

Calm and organized as ever, Okugo kept close tabs on Oduro and rushed to the rescue with vital sliding challenges on the few instances where the Union were threatened.

Jeff Parke – 7

Led a defensive line that confidently pressed high enough to deprive Oduro and Higuain the ball in dangerous locations. Put himself in the right place time and again to snuff out chances before they became dangerous. And he made it all look easy.

Ray Gaddis – 7

That “POOF!” you heard was Ray Gaddis making Justin Meram disappear. Gaddis also assisted Parke well in coping with Oduro’s pace.

Sebastien Le Toux – 8

Quarterbacking the attack from the right wing, Le Toux’s delivery was critical on both the second and third goals. His passion and aggression forced Robert Warzycha to pull off Tyson Wahl at halftime, who simply could not contain the marauding Le Toux.

Brian Carroll – 9

The Union needed a victory, and Carroll put the team on his shoulders. Carroll was a one-man wrecking crew in midfield. He looked just as confident on the other side of the ball, distributing smartly and pushing play. Add a goal and an assist to his performance, and that might just be Carroll’s best outing in a Union shirt.

Keon Daniel – 6

Stepped up his play to join his teammates in taking the game to Columbus. While still overly deferential to Carroll both on defense and offense, Daniel showed more energy and jump than he has throughout 2013. That said, he is still no CAM.

Danny Cruz – 4

Squandered too many chances with clumsy touches, poor footwork, and head-down dribbling. Fortunately for Cruz and the Union, there were plenty of others to pick up the slack on the night. Were the opponent of a higher quality, the home side would have been left ruing his many missed opportunities. When juxtaposed with Le Toux, Union fans saw what Cruz should be, and isn’t.

Jack McInerney – 6

On a day when he handed off the goal-scoring duties to his teammates, McInerney remained influential throughout. He looked like a second Le Toux defensively as he covered deep into his own half in addition to charging down a handful of passes in the final third, where he was a complete nuisance to Columbus. He was denied at point blank range by both Gruenebaum and Barson before missing a wide open look in second half stoppage time.

Conor Casey – 7

With Chad Marshall unavailable, Casey ran unchecked and easily won the physical battle against Glauber and Gehrig. He showed off his quick feet in helping the Union build a number of promising attacks, but his performance will be remembered for his thunderous diving header.

Substitutes

Antoine Hoppenot – 4

Hoppenot failed to focus his considerable energy on a single task. Whether it was killing time or driving for a fourth goal, the Union’s 12th man came up somewhere in the middle, ineffectively conceding possession while offering little threat.

Roger Torres – N/A

Came on when both sides had accepted the final score. Made a few incisive passes that were squandered. Many will feel his entry into the match should have come 10-15 minutes sooner.

Aaron Wheeler – N/A

Would have marked his MLS debut with a well-measured assist, only for McInerney to miss the net on his stoppage time breakaway.

Geiger Counter

Silviu Petrescu – 3

While his decision-making had no effect on the final outcome, Petrescu’s calls were erratic, if not downright confusing. Showed no consistency at either end, a trait that infuriates players, coaches and fans alike.

Preferred Starting XI vs New York Red Bulls on May 23

4-4-2

MacMath; Williams, Okugo, Parke, Gaddis; Le Toux, Carroll, Kleberson, Daniel; Casey, McInerney

60 Comments

  1. Go to the Opta Chalkboard and turn on distribution for Gaddis, Williams, Carroll, Cruz, and Le Toux. You’ll be able to immediately see that balls down the right side of the pitch had a clear route into the box while balls down the left side of the pitch hit a brick wall around the 18 yard box.

  2. “Le Toux’s influence is not only felt on the offensive side of the ball. Whether consciously, or otherwise, McInerney has begun to eat up ground defensively in a very similar manner to Le Toux.”
    .
    There were numerous times my daughter and I noticed that McInerney was deeper defensively than Cruz. There was one moment in the first half where Cruz was way up field – *walking* back on defense – while Mac was in the defensive position Cruz should have been covering.

    • Southside Johnny says:

      +1 and I would give him a 7 for his overall game. He was effectively involved in lots more than his striker role.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Jack wasn’t just deeper defensively than Cruz, there were times he was deeper than Carroll.

  3. I think le toux has adapted his game and hopefully will explode like he did in the second half of 2011. Thats his greatest strength is to not get down but keep trying new and different ways to get involved. he has clearly embraced the saying an assist is just as important as a goal.
    I think jack has been playing great but felt at times he pouted and would fall out of involvement after not getting the ball on a run or feeling he was fouled. He has taken the step towards being a more complete finisher and forward but needs to work on being a team guy who do what it takes not just to score himself but make others better to become great. If its not your night make sure its someone elses.
    I am of the opinion that only one of farfan, cruz or daniel should be in the starting XI for us now. I think its time to increase our rotation with wheeler and torres apparently able to play on the pitch. I was worried perhaps they had a PPL grass allergy.

    • Southside Johnny says:

      Jack has clearly demonstrated his “being a team guy” from day one. He was unselfish to a fault at times last year and has worked like a dog shoring up the midfield this year. Smart forwards (and all players for that matter) who run hard rest when they can. That isn’t “pouting”.

      • I am not talking aboutresting in between plays/during injury/at times of transition I am talking about laying along the sideline at midfield as columbus takes a corner. then running over at the last second when he realized while he was laying asking for a foul columbus earned a corner and was about to take it without him at the near post. We see what we want. I saw jack pouting some throughout the game when he wasn’t “involved” you may disagree and thats fine. I don’t feel like he has clearly demonstarted his team behavior. He seems more wayne rooney right now than gareth bale and thats what i think jack could be. I try not to judge players on whether they are better than others but whether they are living up to their ability and i think for jack thats a high ceiling.

      • Southside Johnny says:

        Fair enough.

    • Viva La France-Le2 has found his place and I think he enjoys the accolades in his current roll.

      I would agree that between Farfan, Daniel and Cruz, only one should be on the field at any given time.

      Hopefully soon as subs not starters, once we bring in some more talent during the summer transfer window.

  4. Josh for da U says:

    Great team effort. So glad to be there for that one! I had to go home and watch the game after just to make sure it was real. That’s the BC I expected to see when the season started, not so much firing off shots but squashing the passing lanes and giving the back line little to do most of the night. Williams goal was fantastic but I still appreciate more the diving header (ass out slide haha) that Conor bullied into the net. I didn’t even feel the need to go home and play FIFA with the Union after this match to make up for any dissapointing play that we have become used to this season

    • I watched the replay of his goal about 15 times when I got home, and he looked like a free safety on that play. He just sat back and waited for the pass, timed his run perfectly to pick it off, made a great cut inside and fired a lethal pass. Deflection or not it was a perfectly executed play. Well done BC!

      • The Black Hand says:

        I could not believe what I was seeing. Completely mind-blowing, Carrol’s goal was.

  5. I think a 4 for Cruz is generous.

    We’re almost half way through the season and I could count Cruz/Carroll/Daniel’s good games on one hand. Yet Torres is buried, Pfeffer’s in Germany and Marfan has regressed (I’m assuming that Cruz/Carroll/Cruz are contagious and he caught whatever they have).

    I love the U, but the style of football they have been playing and the skill level makes it hard for me to realistically expect our first cup this year.

  6. That was fun!

  7. I know Hack loves his Danny Cruz, but the re-emergence of Le Toux on the other wing makes Cruz expendable. Le Toux can be the up tempo winger and Farfan or Daniel can bring a more technical game to the other wing.

    • I like this way of looking at it. One side of the field plays more like a 4-4-2 while the other side plays more like a 4-3-3

    • Daniel should not being seeing the pitch.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Who would you prefer? Please don’t say Farfan.

      • Kleberson

      • Dunkin Deacon says:

        Yeah, all he did was retain possession and connect passes(of which more should have been backwards)!
        .
        Let’s get mike out for these reasons:
        1) I have his jersey.
        2) We need more attempted dribbles
        3) We need to connect less passes and blame it on us being “creative”
        4) We need more turnovers. Not turning the ball over made me uncomfortable.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Kleberson is hurt. I would argue for Roger starting at the 10, but we know that will not happen. Until Kleberson is healthy, Keon is the guy.

      • Southside Johnny says:

        Up until this game and even last game I would agree with benching Daniels, but this time he outperformed Farfan and for my money was pretty much as effective as our suspiciously “soft” Brazilian.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I am questioning the Brazilian’s quality, as well. He has looked mightily mediocre, with occasional fine play. Pretty hefty price paid, to boot.

  8. Dunkin Deacon says:

    Keon deserves a 0. What an awful, flat game. Only about 85% passing, only tackled and possession lost 9 times!? Wtf is this, get this bum off my team! We want someone who is going to attempt more than only 2 dribbles a game seriously…

    • lol, it was his best game of the year, but your sarcasm leads me to believe that you think he’s a front runner for the Balon d’ Or this year…..

      You know how there is always one hot chick that hangs with a bunch of overweight or ugly girls at the club so she can get attention? Well Keon is a fat chick and on this particular night, the hot chick stayed home sick, which invariably made the fat chick look better, but not neccesarily look good….

      • this is an excellent analogy for how cruz/daniel and farfan are for our team. some nights they look great but its often because of or at the expense of others.

      • Dunkin Deacon says:

        You don’t think he’s going to give Messi a run for his money this time? He has to at least place over Ronaldo.
        .
        Of course, I kid. But in all seriousness, you are correct in saying that it was his best game of the year. This was more like the form he has shown in the past, so if this is him getting out of a slump, that’s great news.
        .
        However, I respectfully disagree with you on this occasion about him not looking good. I think that he was all around solid and in no way showed signs of being a weak link this time out. All of his numbers look pretty good on the chalkboard, particularly possession and passing. While at the game, it appeared that his service to the wing players was very good.
        .
        was he better than Carroll? Definitely not. Was he better than LeToux or Williams? Still no. Not to say that I think a 6 is crazy unfair for him, I think it was in between a 6 and 7(leaning toward 7). I’m just saying that I think it’s okay to give him credit for having a good game, and if you don’t think he had a good game, IMO, you’re (not just you, everyone) kidding yourself. No coach in the league would look at those numbers and say “meh”.
        .
        I think what it may be is people on this forum (again not specifically just yourself) may be hesitant to give him any credit given the amount of bashing he has received recently. This is okay, but I’m hoping his good form continues because I would love to see some of the bashers forced to give him credit. It’s fun watching people eat crow. It’s fun for all of us to see Hack eat his words, and it is especially fun to see people who pose arguments that are refuted by stats taste their own feet.

      • Dunk,
        I’m misunderstood…. he did look good on Saturday, no doubt about it. I’m saying overall this season he hasn’t looked good and 1 game doesn’t erase that. Perhaps a reason why Carroll and Daniel played so well is that Letoux and Cruz played way wide all night which gave Keon and Brian space and options to actually pass the ball (GASP!) forward. Also, this team is undefeated when Cruz starts on the left… I hope Daniel continues his form from Wed night. I’ve been his biggest detractor but it is directed at his play, not him…..

      • Jim Presti says:

        Statistically, Keon led the team in posession and was a strong contender for defensive play.

      • Southside Johnny says:

        Thank you, Mr. Presti.

      • The Black Hand says:

        The numbers don’t lie. Keon should be given a little credit, for contributing to the teams form on Wed. Thanks Jim.

      • Dunkin Deacon says:

        Dan C.:
        Agreed, I think it was the play of Cruz and LeToux that really let the 2 of them flourish. I actually didn’t mind them alternating roles between DMid and CM on Wednesday, and if this formation gets marched out again and we see similar space and distribution, we may have a winning formula. Also, it hadn’t occurred to me that when Cruz is out left we haven’t lost, but I do find that surprising.

      • JIm Presti says:

        I was in the office so I couldn’t post the stats but in the MF Carroll and Daniel held down the fort:
        .
        Daniel 27 possession [team leader], 11 Defensive Play [tied for 3rd with Okugo and Parke]
        .
        Carroll 23 possession [2nd], 23 defensive play [1st]

  9. Great One says:

    Way too generous for Daniel and Cruz, but spot on for everyone else. While Carroll has had his share of tough games they are usually not awful, and he usually bounces back. Daniel and Cruz are just continually the weak links.
    .
    That said the rest of the team rally had an amazingly strong match, it refreshing to see some encouraging signs.

  10. The Black Hand says:

    Fair ratings, Eli. A 9 for BC? Why not? He put in a performance that is worthy of a gift point, or two.

  11. I think it’s worth noting that the two guys who put in the most outstanding performances are guys who seemed to substantially enlarge their game for this match.

    First, BC’s offensive play was almost unrecognizable, in a good way. Here we’ve always said that the guy is no Kyle Beckerman or Ossie Alonzo, but don’t expect that, because what he does, he does well. Then last night, Captain Carroll decided that he was, in fact, Ossie Alonzo. Where did that come from?! Was it something Columbus did, or was he just In The Zone? A few more games like that and the Negadelphia fan base will stop whining for Okugo to move into midfield.

    And second, LeToux. He’s had his ups and downs this year. When the debate raged over whether or not to get him back, people tended to forget that he always had tons of assists for the Union too. But this year he’s really done something: at the age of 27, and reasonably established in the league, the guy has changed his game. His delivery on corner kicks this year has been revelatory, and is an enormous contribution which, alone, almost justifies his inclusion in the XI (now that the U have legitimate scoring threats on set pieces). And now he’s played a stellar game at wing midfield, despite the fact that multiple prior coaches who’ve put him there have found him wanting. He’s really adjusted his game to meet the team’s needs. How many players are there about whom you can say that?

    Now we just need to get Hackworth to stop subbing him out. Doing so negates one of the best things about having LeToux on the lineup: his inexhaustible engine. The guy wouldn’t know tired if it it him on the ankle. He should be slotted in for a full 90 unless he’s playing poorly and we need a mid-game upgrade.

    • +1 on the le toux comments. these qualities for philadelphia (not so much at seattle/vancouver/NY) have made him a fan favorite and guy who its hard not to root for. Also he never complains or pouts. just puts his head down and plays.

    • The problem with subs is that 1) Hack makes them too late and 2) He seems completely incapable of adjusting his subs to the game. Hopponent is NOT an every game type of sub. It’s a joke. He is a very specific type of player for a very specific type of game.

      • The Black Hand says:

        There was no need for Hopenot in that match. Casey should have been swapped out for a midfield, with the Union formation adjusting to a 4-4-2. The game shifted, in a major way, after that sub. Despite the clubs performance, Hackworth remains maddening and incapable.

      • So what your saying is he does not manage the game. Thats really the issue right. We don’t need a head coach we need a manager. coaching is for prior to the game and skill improvement. managers set their team up and adjust throughout the game to try and get maximum points. Hack does not do this. he makes his plan at the beginning of the week and come hell or highwater follows it. If thats plan was the right one we win if not we lose.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Carroll had a tremendous match. He provided the Union with the type of play we have been dying for, out of #7. That said, comparing Carroll to Alonzo, whom I value as the leagues best CDM, is ridiculous.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Nothing wrong with subbing Seba at the end of the game. Gave the us a chance to recognize him with a standing O, killed a little clock, and gave Wheeler a chance to see the pitch. I can see an argument for not bringing on Hoppenot (although given the card situation for Casey, he should have been subbed earlier), but subbing Seba was the right thing to do on every level.

      • Steve l. says:

        I’m not going to rogue one way or the other, but you sub some one out for an applause during a championship game, an all star type game, or his last ever game. Not for a game in the middle of a season. Just saying.

  12. Kevin Leech says:

    I disagree with MacMath’s rating. He looked confident, had a few good saves, organized the backline well, had good not great distribution and most importantly got the clean sheet. Imo, he’s deserving of a 7.5, but I wouldn’t be mad at a 7. 6 is a tad low.

    • The Black Hand says:

      I would agree with MacMath being bumped up a point. He had a strong match. The long throw, which caught Columbus off guard, early on was excellent. I am very pleased with Zac’s turn of form. We will need him to be excellent against Red Bull.

  13. JediLos117 says:

    Re: Torres
    .
    I’m historically critical of Torres and I think he is generally overrated…greatly.
    .
    During his appearance against Columbus he had a few nice passes as Eli noted. However I processed his off ball movement as rather poor and thought he did not make himself available as he should. It seemed like he could not find an open lane but rather went where he shouldn’t (actually only aspect of Daniels game that I can appreciate).
    .
    Any thoughts? Confirm or deny my assessment (Somehow I forgot to DVR this match or I would watch again).

    • The Black Hand says:

      His movement wasn’t awful. He was looking to thread a ball to his attack, almost every time. His timing wasn’t great but, what could you expect from a guy who has seen as little playing time as Roger. Just the fact that he was looking to attack was a welcome change from our normal #10’s, Kleberson included. I think that given more time, Roger would prove to be a valuable asset. It is unfortunate that that time will probably be given by another club. Hack is too stubborn, and/or foolish, to try and work Torres into the XI.

      • JediLos117 says:

        Looking more for an off ball assessment.
        .
        Feel like he wasnt showing for the ball effectively.

      • The Black Hand says:

        He looked a bit tentative with his off the ball movement. A little uncertain, as to where to be. Again, this is to be expected from a player with no previous playing time. He played for less than 10′, so it is difficult to gauge his positional awareness. That said, there were hints of floating Roger…if thats what your getting at.

      • JediLos117 says:

        That kinda reinforces how I processed his appearance…wanna make sure Im not overly critical.

      • Southside Johnny says:

        I think he was a little lost, but actively lost and during those minutes I’m not sure what was supposed to be going on tactically. They weren’t in lock down mode nor were they consistently attacking. I’m curious about what mission he and Antoine were given. Under the circumstances, I thought he held his own, but he might have been trying to make too much of his opportunity. This could have been a great game for Roger to have seen more minutes.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I loved the thoughts behind Roger’s distribution. He was looking to spring an attack with every touch.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        I agree with Johnny. Both teams had pretty much accepted the final score when Torres came in, so his motion had a totally different cadence and urgency to the other 21 players on the field. I thought he looked to do the right thing and his thinking was sound. He should have been in the match 10-15 minutes earlier though. Very hard to evaluate his movement realistically when the match had slowed to such a sloth’s pace.

  14. Southside Johnny says:

    BTW, I am happy that I may have to eat the words “Gaddis will never make a competent LB” along with my bilious bashings of Keon “best hair jukes in soccer” Daniel. Bring it, lads, and make fools of all of us boo birds!

  15. Pingback: Union vs Crew quick reference

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*