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“Cruel,” “gutted,” “very poor,” “bad spot,” more news.

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Philadelphia Union

Ahead of Saturday game against Houston, John Hackworth said, “If the result doesn’t go our way on Saturday night, it doesn’t mean we’re out but the likelihood is far less that we’ll come back in the remaining five games and get the results we need.”

After the 1-0 loss, Hackworth said, “This night is going to be really difficult to accept. There’s no question that the effort of this group was there. The competitiveness showed from the get-go. The players put a lot into this game and it’s unfortunate we’re sitting here on the bad end of the result. That’s this game and it’s cruel sometimes.”

A good deal of discussion turned on the decision to disallow Keon Daniel’s long distance free kick cross/shot after Amobi Okugo was judged to have been offside and/or interfering with the Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall. Okugo said, “It was tough for the fans, they are excited to see a goal and to have it called back in that fashion. The refs were indecisive about what it was. The fans come here and they are an experienced, intellectual fan base. They’ll let you know if it’s a bad call or if it’s the right call. We feel gutted for the fans. We need to take these two weeks and make sure we come out stronger and better — bottom line.”

Bad call or not, the fact remains that the Union managed to put only one other attempt on goal: Okugo’s back-to-goal flick-on header in the last seconds of stoppage time. And that simply is not good enough.

Okugo said, “We’ve had some tough losses. But this game and every important game, we fail to come up to the task. We have to step up, we need to get points out of these big games.”

Conor Casey said, “We created a lot of chances, but we just weren’t good enough in front of goal. Period. I thought as a team, we played well. Everyone was getting forward and getting chances, but certainly very poor with that last touch.”

Danny Cruz said, “No one is happy right now. We are in a bad spot, we are in a tough spot—we know that. We know we have made mistakes, we know we have put ourselves in a really tough position. Obviously we came into the locker room and looked at the scores and we are in some trouble.”

Is part of that trouble that the Union offense is too predictable? “Not necessarily, no,” said Casey. Said Jack McInerney, “Yeah, maybe a little bit.” Both agree that whatever chances are being created, the Union isn’t finishing them.

One of those players providing chances is Fabinho, who started at left midfield with Ray Gaddis returning to left back. The Brazilian said, “Since I’ve been here, (Hackworth) has talked to me about playing different positions. In my first game, I came in as a midfielder. When I found out (that I would be starting tonight), I knew that I’d be ready, because I’ve been playing in both spots.”

Match reports and recaps from PSP, Philadelphia Union.com, Philadelphia Inquirer, Delco Times, CSN Philly, South Jersey Times, Delaware Online, Philly Soccer News, Brotherly Game, Zolo Times, Houston Chronicle, Dynamo Theory, MLSsoccer.com, ProSoccerTalkSBI, Goal.comSports Mole, The Sports Network, UPI, and the AP.

At SI, Tom Dart writes,

“The Union’s Jack McInerney and the Dynamo’s Will Bruin are case studies for the growing pains that young strikers tend to suffer when confidence evaporates…

“Each missed excellent chances at PPL Park, as did Conor Casey and Cam Weaver. Bruin had the opportunity for a late insurance goal, McInerney to equalize after he came off the bench. They had time to think before taking their shots — and when you’re lacking in self-belief, it equates to time for anxiety and doubt to course through the body like fast-acting poison.

“The Union man showed great instincts to turn past his marker and fashion the chance. Then, all he had to do was side-foot the ball from 15 yards past goalkeeper Tally Hall into a gaping net — essentially, just pass the ball into the goal. If McInerney was on halfway and playing the ball forward to a teammate, he’d place it exactly where he wanted it, nine times out of ten. But here, he flashed his shot wide.

“Same technique, different pressure. It’s why forwards get the biggest paychecks, the most adulation — and the most derision.”

SportsClubStats.com had the Union’s chances of making the playoffs at 72.6 percent after the draw with New York on Aug. 17. Following Saturday’s loss, the site now has the Union’s playoff chances at 27.1 percent.

At Penn Live.com, Michael Bullock notes that newly signed forward Yann Ekra has been practicing with the Union for little more than a week.

Bill Becher, Ekra’s former coach at the Harrisburg City Islanders, said of the forward, “He was very good all year. I often said, when you look at our team, that he has as good a skill set to play at the next level as anyone on our team. He’s got good touch, he’s strong, he can score. There’s a lot of things he can do that give him a chance to succeed at the next level.”

Ekra is the fourth player to join the Union from the City Islanders. Before him were Sheanon Williams, Morgan Langley, and Chase Harrison.

he trade of Chris Konopka to Toronto is basically a way for Toronto to solidify its goalkeeper ranks ahead of the departure of Stefan Frei, whose pricey contract expires at the end of the season.

At Philly.com, Jonathan Tannenwald confirms that the Konopka trade was another example of the league using an indirect method to reveal a roster rule change, in this case the demise of the Supplemental Draft.

Brotherly Game has a look at how former Union academy players are doing with their college teams.

The Inquirer has an article on the Union honoring Bethlehem Steel FC with their third kit. It’s a good read. Pity it was published 7 months after the jersey was released.

Local

In local college women’s soccer action, La Salle followed up a 1-0 win over Villanova on Thursday with a 4-0 win over Loyola (Md.) on Sunday.

Villanova bounced back with a 2-1 win over St. Francis on Sunday.

It was a winning weekend for Penn, edging out Drexel 1-0 in double overtime on Friday and then defeating St. Joseph’s 1-0 on Sunday.

St. Joseph’s had defeated Loyola (Md.) 1-0 on Friday.

Temple defeated Binghampton 2-0 at home on Friday and then drew 0-0 with Lafayette on the road on Sunday.

MLS

In Eastern Conference play, New York (48  points). moves into first place with a 2-0 win over ninth place Toronto (23  points). Montreal (45 points) falls to second place after a 2-1 home loss to eighth place Columbus (35 points). Kansas City (45 points) had the weekend off and is in third place. Houston (40 points) moves into fourth place with the 1-0 win over Philadelphia (39 points), who fall two spots to sixth place. Chicago (39 points) is in fifth place after defeating seventh place New England (3-7  points), 3-2. Last place DC (15 points) tied 2-2 with LA at home.

Ahead of last Friday’s roster deadline, the Union traded Chris Konopka and signed Yann Ekra from the Harrisburg City Islanders. In other transactions, Kansas City signed Argentinian defender and Barcelona product Federico Bessone. Houston sent midfielder Adam Moffat to Seattle in exchange for midfielder Servando Carrasco.

Bruce Arena is always good for a good quote. Here are his thoughts on artificial turf: “They are disasters. The only one that is somewhat acceptable is Portland. The others are all terrible. Seattle is bad. Vancouver is probably the worst. And New England isn’t good.”

Don Garber created a stir last week when he said that three of the four expansion cities after NYC FC are spoken for. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports, “A league source close to the situation said Friday that the ‘spoken for’ sites are Miami, Orlando and Atlanta.”

At SI, Brian Straus reports that Atlanta is the “prohibitive favorite.”

Atlanta is ready for expansion.

Orlando City is already making roster moves with expansion in mind. Head coach Adrian Heath said, “I honestly believe in a year’s time we will be in Major League Soccer, and that step is the big one. We are preparing a squad that consists of players who we believe might make the jump with us.”

ESPN reports that the lack of a suitable stadium is holding back Miami’s bid.

In Minnesota, the concern is that they will miss out on joining MLS.

US

US Soccer confirmed on Friday that the USMNT will play Scotland in a friendly at Hampden Park in Glasgow on Nov. 15.

Jozy Altidore scored his first Premier League goal for Sunderland on Saturday. Then he didn’t.

Elsewhere

Cristiano Ronaldo is presumably no longer sad after signing a new deal with Real Madrid.

A match-fixing scandal in Australia has resulted in the arrests of ten people.

19 Comments

  1. Is part of that trouble that the Union offense is too predictable?
    “Not necessarily, no,” says the guy whom the offence plays to his strengths.
    “Yeah, maybe a little bit.” Says the guy whom the offence doesn’t play to his strengths at all

  2. DOWN WITH HACKWORTH.
    Notice his comments? “The effort was there. They were competitive.” Nothing about tactics and execution. He has a very 90s approach to soccer. He is so out of his depth.

  3. And what the hell is it about Miami and Atlanta that makes people think they can have sports franchises there. They rarely work.

  4. Also, the Ekra signing is a goddamn insult. If there is ONE place on the team we have depth and talent its striker.
    This guy isnt going to do anything but give Hackworth more of a reason to tinker and mess up. Hell, I bet he was signed to play winger.

    • I felt the same way until I read a quote from someone who follows USLPRO that said Ekra has played mostly as an attacking midfielder behind two strikers. I do not follow that league at all so I have no way of confirming or arguing with that opinion of him but I hope that its true

    • He’s actually played a fair bit of CAM.

  5. Were the refs indecisive because Okugo was both offside and obstructed the keeper? They just couldn’t choose which one?

    Moping about the lost goal won’t help. The U would be better to come out and say, “our fault for bumping the keeper and being offside. We will work harder and put more shots on. We are working on creating more chances.” That would be positive, instead we get this Deputy Dog “oh nooo” approach and Hack watching the replay over and over. The reality is, they didn’t play well enough to win. Frankly, given how many man advantages this team has been the recipient of, to whine about poor refereeing (and this is MLS, might as well complain about the weather, neither will change because you want it to)is unseemly.

    • And seriously, even if the goal did count, why the fuck would it matter when anyone with an objective heart can see that goal is 1 in 1000, and doesn’t even sniff the goal if Hall doesn’t fuck up. It’s such a backwards mindset, it woulda been a miracle goal and in no wway would have reflected that we had a good gameplan or showing otherwise.
      Seriously, it’s bad enough this team in inept. But this kind of sophomoric, rec league attitude and mindset is even worse.

      • It deflects attention from a manager who after losing 1-0 last week (and up a man for 30 minutes) said that 6 positions were up for grabs. Apparently , 5 incumbents for those roles showed amazingly well during training, since the only real change was benching Jack, sliding SLT up, Fabinho behind him and inserting the right-footed Gaddis at LB.

        Honestly, I do not have confidence in Hackworth. Each week just reinforces it. I was for the change last year, as were we all, but I thought the move to replace the interim tag was hasty for a guy who had never been a head coach. The “developer of young talent” narrative looks shakier with each passing week of regression for Jack and Marfan (Torres also seems to be immune to his development wizardry). The “eye for young talent” looks shakier with the continued run out for Cruz (and do you believe Hack is a better evaluator than Dom Kinnear and Ben Olsen?).

        I saw a comment on one of the boards that “ideally Hack will be the GM” because SLT, Casey, Parke came here. Couldn’t disagree more. Nowak may have been crazy, but he got a pile of allocation money for SLT (which we used to finalize the Torres acquisition). Smart enough to see Mwanga was a flop (are we all agreed on this yet?) and dealt him.
        Hack continues to get props for dealing Adu for Kleberson, to free up cap space. Um, we are paying for part of Adu still and we are sitting a DP who when he does get on the field does nothing but try to go forward and connect passes.

      • Whoa Sparky! Goals change matches, and as goal starved as the Union have been of late, Daniels’ wonder strike may have opened the flood gates.

        Also, could use please tell us why you believe this team is sophomoric and has rec league attitude? Because what I saw on Saturday night following the game was a team that was devastated by the loss. It kills each and every one of those professionals that they failed to win that match. The guys in that locker room know they dug themselves a big hole. Now they’ve got to pick themselves up and go get a result in KC.

      • No, scottymac, you’ve got it all wrong. The Union made 5.5 changes. Seba replaced Jack, Danny replaced Seba (half the time since they keep switching sides anyway), Fabhino replaced Danny/Seba, Ray replaced Fabhino, Sheanon replaced Ray, and Amobi replaced Sheanon. So it really was a completely different lineup. (Now to take my tongue out of my cheek before biting too hard.)

  6. I’m pretty sure the Union are leading the league in games where the mlssoccer.com recap includes the word ‘ugly’.

  7. Why in gods name would they give franchises to those 3 cities? Orlando deserves it maybe with all the work they’ve done. But all those cities show they do not get support in other bigger sports already. It doesn’t make sense.

    • Orlando will support soccer. They averaged 93.4% capacity for Magic games last year, and they’ll attract a lot of visitors and away fans to the stadium. Miami is getting a team because Beckham wants to hang out in South Beach. That’ll be a disaster, and I’m afraid they’ll draw fans away from Orlando. I’d like to see Minnesota get the 4th spot, move Chivas to San Antonio and replace Atlanta with the triangle in Carolina. MLS is strong enough now that they should look into cities that will support a team, NOT glamour cities (i.e. Miami). Smaller markets like Portland that have one or no major teams are more likely to dish out the dough for support.

      • Orlando is a LONG way from Miami. They are not in the same market and will not compete for each other.

        As for not looking at “glamour cities”, this is a league that is trying to have an international profile as well as a national profile, and a city like Miami is potentially attractive to that foreign DP the way Minneapolis isn’t. The truth is that they need to balance these concerns. And frankly, having no Southeast teams in MLS is pretty absurd. I’m sure the 4th spot will go to someplace in another region.

        It is also certainly true that Florida has a poor record of supporting sports franchises. On the other hand, Miami is practically a Latin American city, so I would not necessarily generalize that to soccer.

  8. Forgetting about Sportsclubstats saying the Union has a 27.1 percent chance to make the playoffs, what are their chances of getting passed by New England and Columbus and finishing in the same 8th place they ended up last year? I’d rate it at about 50% with the only reason it’s not higher being that New England and Columbus wrap up with 2 games against each other making it harder for both to catch the Union. I would say it’s probably 72.9 percent that the Union finishes 7th or worst (making the 27.1 chance of making the playoffs an overbid).

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