Daily news roundups

“Justification”: Quotes & reaction to Friday’s big win, Eastern Conference roundup, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

Sure, it was as ugly a win as the Kansas City pitch was chunky. As John Hackworth said, “It wasn’t the prettiest of games for us.”

But, as Hackworth also said, “The most important thing for our team is that we came here and got a result.”

In doing so, the Union climbed back into a playoff spot, ended a 346 minute goal drought and a five-game winless streak, picking up their first ever win in Kansas City along the way. They also improved their road record to 5-6-4 and Zac MacMath and the Union defense picked up their league-leading 11th shutout of the season.

It was big, big, big.

Hackworth described the meaning of the win for the team. “It was justification for the guys. I’ve been saying it over the last month: I thought we created a lot of chances, and unfortunately we haven’t found the back of the net more frequently.”

Sheanon Williams made clear the sense of justification among the players after winning a game that no one expected them to win:

Hackworth said of the team’s self-belief, “Everybody who trains every day in our facility and is in our locker room believes in this team. Not many other people do, but we do. And I think you see a little bit of that belief from our players.

Conor Casey’s take on ending the goal drought? “It was about time.” He added, “I was right in front of the goal, so luckily I didn’t miss that one”

Zac MacMath said, “This is a big game for us coming off two loses and we need three points. Coming into Kansas City, we were hoping just to steal a point, but we knew if we kept it tight the whole game that we’d have a chance to get three points…We were kind of surprised that we were up 1-0 at the half. I don’t think the first 30 minutes were the way that we planned them to go. Anytime you can get a goal in the first half, you give yourselves a chance.”

MacMath said of all of those big saves he made, “They were all difficult saves, but thankfully I put myself in the right position to just make the save and move on with it. I think the team also did a really good job of blocking a lot of shots and preventing crosses.”

Hackworth said of MacMath’s performance, “He was really good. He controlled the box and made a couple key saves. He really kept us in the game.”

You can vote for MacMath to be one of MLSsoccer.com’s Top 3 Performers of the Week here.

In a post on the Union website published before Friday’s game, Chris Albright said of the Union defense, “We have been good defensively. I think our back four is something that we can always count on. Not to say that there are not guys on the field, but as a whole if you can count on your back four to keep you in games then you are going to be there; you are going to have a chance to separate and have someone else make a play.”

KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen said, “At half, it was unbelievable to be down 1-0. We were completely dominating the game and created chance after chance after chance.”

Peter Vermes said, “We had way too many chances not to score. On the attack side, we weren’t clinical enough to score. You have that many chances, you’ve got to score to put pressure on the other team.

Match recaps from PSP, PhiladelphiaUnion.com, the Inquirer, Delco Times, Philly Soccer News, Brotherly Game, SportingKC.com, Kansas City Star, The Daily Wiz, KC Kingdom, The University Daily Kansan, MLSsoccer.c0m, ProSoccerTalk, SBISoccer America, The Sports Network, Goal.com, and The AP. The Union website also has a Storify stream of selected tweets from the game based around the hashtag #playoffpush.

With the win, SportsClubStats raises the Union’s playoff chances to 59.8 percent, up from 27.1 percent after the home loss to Houston. You will recall that after the draw against New York on Aug.  17, the website had the Union’s playoff chances at 72.6 percent.

More on the Union’s playoff chances from Rant Sports.

In a post at Union Tally published before Friday’s win, Matthew De George takes a closer look at the eight previous times in which the Union have managed to earn 10 points during a five game stretch.

In a post at The 700 Level also published before Friday’s win, Steve Moore says the problem with the Union is that they are boring.

The Union academy U-18s had their first loss of the season on Saturday, falling 2-1 to the Baltimore Bays. Things turned around for the U-16s, who defeated the Bays 4-0, and for the U-14s, who also won 4-0.

Bucks Local News has a nice look at Cristhian Hernandez and the Union Mobile Marketing Tour visit with New Hope’s Patriot FC season kickoff on Thursday evening.

Local

At MLSsoccer.com, Greg Seltzer checks in with Lancaster-native Zarek Valentin, who has nothing but good things to say about his loan from Montreal to Norwegian club Glimt.

The Drexel men’s team kicked off CAA play with a 2-1 win at William & Mary.

At the Inquirer, Nick Carroll has a good read on the boys’ soccer team at Ben Franklin High School, which is made up of new immigrants, many of whom have never played organized soccer before despite playing the game all their lives. Coach Rob Moore says as many as ten different languages could be spoken on the field between his players.

MLS

Once again, the Fates smiled upon the Union, who had to wait for two Saturday games to be played before being certain that their win in Kansas City would keep them in fifth place. After the Union (42 points) defeated second place Kansas City (48 points) 1-0 on Friday, fourth place Houston (44 points) came from behind to draw 1-1 on the road with now seventh place New England (41 points). Third place Montreal (46 points) scored first and then came from behind to draw 2-2 with eighth place Chicago (40 points) after two Mike Magee goals. With New England and Chicago’s attempts to advance up the table stymied by draws, on Sunday Columbus (41 points) jumped two spots into sixth place after a big 4-2 road win over Dallas. Ninth place Toronto (26 points) pounded last place DC (15 points) 4-1 to end an eight-game winless streak on Saturday. DC fielded a team of reserve players ahead of Tuesday’s US Open Cup final against Real Salt Lake and also saw Own Goal regain the top spot on the the team’s goalscoring list. Finally, on Sunday, first place New York (52 points) came back on the road to draw 1-1 with Seattle.

Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is “very happy” to hear the news that Cuba will now let its athletes sign foreign contracts. Alonso defected to the US in 2007.

At US Soccer Players, Jason Davis considers how much stock should be put into notions of the importance of MLS performing well in the CONCACAF Champions League.

The Orlando Sentinel has details of the proposed stadium deal for Orlando City SC.

US

That Aron Johannsson fellow does it again. Interestingly, Johannsson’s coach at AZ was fired on Sunday.

Jermaine Jones will undergo meniscus surgery this week that will see him unavailable for the final two US World Cup qualifiers and out for up to six weeks.

The LA Times reports that Carlos Bocanegra is taking being left off of the USMNT in stride. Bocanegra says, “I haven’t given up on it. If it comes again, excellent. If not, I’m not holding my breath.”

The US Soccer Foundation has received a $2.6 million continuation funding grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service for its Soccer for Success program.

The foundation is now accepting grant proposals for its Safe Places to Play program, which funds field development projects in at-risk and under-served communities.

6 Comments

  1. A lot of words came to mind after that game. A lot. But Justified was not one of them.

    • Agreed. Very happy for the win, but Hack’s view that they’ve created a lot of chances is denial on a ridiculous level. We scored against the run of play and had been dominated.

      I’d happily eat crow if they make the playoffs and be labeled forevermore as a Negadelphian. I still don’t see what Hack sees when I watch this team.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I think Hack puts WAY too much emphasis on effort and has a fear of being seen as disloyal. He clearly loves effort and shows exactly that by starting a guy like Cruz game in and game out. I guess he sees that effort and just assumes it will translate to the game as goals and wins. And when it doesn’t he is genuinely confused. And that for us as fans is the confusing part.

      • Which is funny, because Cruz would actually be a decent late-game sub in a game you’re down by one goal. Bring him in around 65-70 and let him run at tired fullbacks and midfielders.
        .
        As a starter, though… yeah, he shouldn’t be starting on a regular basis.

      • Well he is a coach. And psychologist is part of being a coach, so fostering an us against them attitude works for team unity than so be it. So that is where the justified comment comes from.
        Coaching these days also involves Public relations flakkery, more with the Union than any other team in Philly. So he must say they created chances.
        What hack sees when he looks at this team is his job, So off to work he goes.

  2. The interesting thing about the “us v them” approach, the “them” seems to be half the fan base. Not sure why one would want to foster that. I don’t get the sense that the U are top of mind for the MLS cognoscenti. No one nationally is dogging this team, I think we raise a resounding “meh” from the media.

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