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“Baffling,” “frustrating”: Recaps & reaction from loss to NYRB, Atlanta, more news

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union

Well, that sucked.

Another trip to Red Bull Arena, and another disappointing result.

Seven games into the 2014 season and the Union’s good play continues to be sabotaged by frustratingly elemental defensive breakdowns.

John Hackworth said of the two goals scored by New York, “To allow two serves into the box so easy, then not to have men on the first one, we literally didn’t track guys from midfield. The second one we had plenty of guys back and no one chose to mark the most dangerous players. Literally it’s baffling to watch it back.”

Hackworth continued, “Not only did we let them off the hook, but we should’ve had them in the second half too. We knew they were going to be dangerous if we let them hang around for as long as we did. They were going to get a chance, but you can’t leave a player like Henry on the field, he’s just deadly, he’s been his whole career. So it was tough. Very frustrating to play as well as we did in some aspects of that game and then be down 2-0.”

The Union had zero shots on target following Sebastien Le Toux’s 80th minute penalty kick goal after going up a man following Ibrahim Sekagya 78th minute red card for handling the ball in the box. Hackworth said, “I cannot even tell you how frustrating it was. That’s where I think even though we worked on those kinds of situations in preseason, the fact that we didn’t get a ball served into the box, especially when we put Wheeler up there and we have midfielders coming back and just rolling the ball around to our center backs, I’m literally baffled because that’s not the way we trained it. I don’t know what to say. Our whole setup in that last 10 minutes is just baffling.”

Amobi Okugo said, “Missed assignments, lack of communication, staying with runners, simple basics that we’ve got to clean up. One game it’s a failed clearance, one game it’s too much space and it’s not following the runners. We’ve just got to clean up.”

The Union have two days to clean up before they host Houston on Saturday. After that, it’s road games against Montreal and Seattle before they return home to face DC on May 10. Okugo said, “It’s a big game versus Houston, they’re in a slump, we just lost this game and we’ve got to get the win.” Yep.

Recaps from PSP, Philadelphia Union, Philadelphia Daily News, Delco Times, CSN Philly, Delaware Online, Philly Soccer News, Brotherly Game, New York Red Bulls, The Star-Ledger, Empire of Soccer, Big Apple Soccer, Once A Metro, SI, ProSoccerTalk, SBI, Goal.com, The Sports Network, and The AP.

More on the baffle from Dave Zeitlin at MLSsoccer.com.

At Goal.com, the differing emotions of John Hackworth and Mike Petke after the game.

At Brotherly Game, Leo Fernandes is the stat zero, Maurice Edu the stat hero.


Former Union Academy goalkeeper Zack Steffen minded the net as the US U-20 MNT defeated Tigres 1-0 to advance to the semifinals of the Dallas Cup. Information from the match is thin, but it looks like the Union’s Zach Pfeffer, who had a goal and an assist in Monday’s 3-0 win over Eintract Frankfurt, didn’t start. Not sure if he was subbed in. The US will face Fluminense in Friday’s semifinal.

The Morning Call reports on Lehigh Valley United’s addition to the US Soccer Development Academy.


It’s official: Atlanta will be the home of the league’s 22nd team. (Beckham’s Miami team won’t count until it secures a stadium deal to make its inclusion official.)

Franchise owner Arthur Blank, who also owns the Atlanta Falcons, said, “This franchise … will be owned by the fans. It’s to create a unique opportunity for you our fans, our owners, to feel that ownership and to help drive that uniqueness that soccer presents. So much of the uniqueness of soccer both in the US and worldwide depends on the local fans and how they feel … And I promise you we’ll do that and do it forever.”

More from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, AccessNorthGA.com, ESPN, SI, and ProSoccerTalk.

At MLSsoccer.com, a look at past Atlanta pro soccer team logos.

ProSoccerTalk pegs Minneapolis as the likely winner of the final expansion spot.

At The New Yorker, Noah Davis considers whether the New York Cosmos and MLS can co-exist.


At ASN, John Godfrey shares five things he’s worried for the US about ahead of the World Cup. Gotta admit that right now, as I write this, it’s the Union that I’m worried about.


NBC announced on Wednesday that the final ten games of the Premier League season on May 10 will be broadcast live across ten of the network’s channels. Very cool.


  1. Cool from nbc on the premier league games.
    I’m surprised to see Hackworth so vigorously throwing the players under the bus. Seems like Amobi agrees with him though.

    • In this instance, at this point in the season, I think Hackworth is spot on with what he is saying. It’s not as if he’s criticizing the players after a heartbreaking loss where they left it all out there, he’s criticizing the players after a performance that really was not good enough. The players know they can do better and that they need to shape up. If Hackworth came out with a “this one is on me” after that game, he lets the players off the hook when they need to be looking at themselves.

      • I agree with Ben. Hack’s comments *should* resonate with them even more becuase he’s usually protective.

      • Sorry but Hack can’t blame the team for the loss when he has both our CB’s playing out of position and the team in a formation that we don’t have the personnel for. This loss is on him.

      • I agree generally with the CB comment, however neither CB was at fault for either goal yesterday. Lack of hustle from Edu and Fabinho losing his man seem to be the cause to me.

      • If I’m Gaddis or Fabinho, I’m not that concerned about Hack’s criticisms. It’s not like we have a ton of depth to challenge each of them for the outside back position. It’s essentially 3 guys for 2 starting spots and 1 sub role.

        Aside from a new signing or trade, each of them is guaranteed a spot in the 18 every week.

  2. A certain amount of this comes down to player selection. Fabinho and Wheeler are defensive liabilities. They get lost tracking players. The players didnt play well, but Hackworth put them on the field over other players who are better defensively. I think this “4-3-3” experiment should be over. Having one man in the box for crosses doesn’t challenge the defense enough unless the ball is perfect.

  3. This is not a playoff team by any stretch of the imagination. My expectations for the season have been seriously downgraded. This looks like a team without a coach and without a clear leader on the field.

    Casey needs to start and play as long as possible on Saturday, because I think he might be the only player who seems willing and able to attempt to put the ball in the net!

    • My feelings exactly. The only difference is my expectations were not as high as many other fans.

    • We are a playoff team. Remember the playoffs are not a reward for the good teams but missing them are a punishment for the really bad ones. Considering the personnel and the play of all the other teams in the east it would be a tragedy. A job costing tragedy if we missed the playoffs.

  4. Few things. The players are definitely guilty of some bone-headed plays, but — and I say this as a newer transplant to Philly who only recently started following the team closely — Hackworth’s decision-making absolutely BAFFLES me.

    Can someone please explain the Hoppenot sub each and every game? I see zero impact… besides having someone to run around aimlessly; and because it happens each and every game, the opposition knows it’s coming. I’d rather have Wenger and Casey both out there than Hoppenot being the hustle guy who never gets a touch on the ball.

    Second, benching Berry after one game back is absolutely moronic. You have a talented CB new to the team — you need cohesion back there! There are going to be flubs but you have to let he and Amobi sort it out.

    I want to love this team, but they are pretty damn infuriating. As much as I hate blaming a manager, Hack seems like he is insulated with his weird ideas and never consults anyone else to say “Dude, what are you thinking?” His decisions seem neurotic and ill-conceived.

    Ultimately, beyond the obvious defensive problem, the inability to put the ball in the back of the net is concerning. Our fellows create such fantastic build-ups but just lose track of their space and flub the finish. Can we all just have a collective GAHHHHHHHAGGHZ?

    • sans- you haven’t seen anything yet. Wait til he starts trying to make way for his main man crush, Danny Cruz! Wait until you see his presser — nothing but cliches and talking points.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        You know… there has been ZERO talk of Cruz throughout this frustrating season so far… and you had to go and bring him up. Curse you LCB… CURSE YOU! HA!

      • From the bottom of my bleeding blue heart I’m sorry. I just wanted to prepare sans and cushion the blow. I am being cursed. I live in Mahattan and watched the game with friends who are RB supporters. My only comeback to them is to tell them NY won’t actually have an MLS team until next year. We are meeting tonight to watch Flyers-Rangers. I am being tortured. I hope you’ll pray for me anyway HA!

    • I perversely hope Berry isn’t quite 100%. That’s about the only way to explain that decision with anything resembling a reasonable answer – he needed more recovery time, etc.

  5. OneManWolfpack says:

    If this team doesn’t get a win… as in 3 points… Saturday, we are in some SERIOUS trouble. And I have no confidence right now, that we can beat a struggling Houston team, even at home.

  6. I think it is time to bench McMath too!

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