Player ratings

Analysis and Player Ratings: Union 3-5 Revs

Photo: Earl Gardner

A gutsy, 2-1 road victory against defending MLS champions Sporting Kansas City.

A 5-3 home blowout against a Revolution side that solved the Union defense early and often.

So which performance showed the Union’s true colors? Based on the prior 11 matches and the Union’s position as second worst in points per game, it is hard not to say the latter, though suspensions, injuries, and international duty undoubtedly played a part in making the scoreline as ugly as it turned out on Saturday evening.

Coming home to play New England in the third match in 8 days was always going to be a difficult ask. At the moment, few MLS sides, if any, can match the Revs chemistry in the attacking half of the pitch. Jay Heaps augmented the improvements made last year with the addition of proven MLSers Daigo Kobayashi and Teal Bunbury, as well as top draft picks Patrick Mullins and Steve Neumann. And the Revs have found such a rich vein of form that even former Union killer, Kelyn Rowe, has been unable to reclaim his starting place after dealing with injury at the start of 2014.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall (x2)

So why then did John Hackworth choose to select his two least mobile center backs when faced with the threat of such a mercurial attacking force? Partially it was by necessity, with Brian Carroll (groin injury), Maurice Edu (international duty), Michael Lahoud (international duty) and Fabinho (suspension) unavailable. After turning in a top drawer showing at defensive midfielder in Kansas City, there is little doubt that Hackworth would have preferred to drop Amobi Okugo back to centerback against New England, restoring Carroll to ball-hawking duties in midfield, but that option never materialized.

Still, it is hard not to look at Ethan White’s week-in and week-out inclusion in the 18 and wonder why he was not given the call to partner with Berry at the heart of the Union defense. While White clearly has some rust to shake off, as he showed recently for Harrisburg, he has proven that he can play in MLS. As the far more mobile and defensively aware option to Aaron Wheeler, if there was ever a time to use White, it was against New England. Hindsight, of course, is 20/20 but Wheeler was repeatedly and easily pulled out of position to put added strain on a back line that was already struggling. When the converted striker chose to make an intervention, it too often arrived in the form of a clumsy foul. Wheeler conceded four first half fouls, one of which provided the set piece from which AJ Soares opened the scoring, though he could have easily been whistled for six or seven.

Substitutions take things from bad to worse

Down 3-1, it was clear that the Union had failed to execute on whatever halftime plan had been put in place and changes were needed. Up front, Andrew Wenger was unable to hold up play, and Leo Fernandes was being marked completely out of the match. So when New England buried their third goal, restoring a two-goal cushion, Hackworth knew he had to make a change.

With three strikers and the creative, young playmaker, Zach Pfeffer, on the bench, pulling Fernandes seemed like a smart option. However, the Union boss had something more drastic in mind. Hackworth ended Wheeler’s nightmarish evening, bringing on Antoine Hoppenot and reshaping his team into a 3-5-2. While Wheeler’s performance up until that point had been his least effective to date, the reorganized defense was not only more susceptible to New England’s attack, but it also limited the Union’s ability to get forward.

Not the most mobile defender on his best day, Berry suddenly had the entire center of the park to cover, while Ray Gaddis and Sheanon Williams, who had both surged forward to some effect, were pinned back. Further, the formation shuffle required Okugo to sit deeper to support the defense, which then had the knock-on effect of pulling Nogueira deeper than he would have wanted to be. New England wasted little time exploiting the Union’s undermanned defense, scoring their fourth goal in the 57th minute. And before they could make it 5 in the 67th minute, Zac MacMath had to come up with two critical saves on clean breaks that easily could have made the scoreline even more lopsided.

Player Ratings

Zac MacMath – 5

Despite being forced to pluck the ball out of his net on five different occasions, the score could have been far worse were it not for MacMath’s 5 saves, 3 of which came on clean breaks through the Union defense. In fact, MacMath will likely only look at New England’s fifth goal as one on which he could have done better.

Ray Gaddis – 5

After putting in a Man of the Match level performance against Graham Zusi in midweek, Gaddis was unable to replicate his display against Lee Nguyen, as he was caught out more than once by the wily Revs attacker. Gaddis remains one of the league’s best cover fullbacks, but until his game becomes more consistent in the attacking half of the field, he will not be considered among the league’s elite. Continuing to rip quality shots from 30 yards out can only help his cause, however.

Austin Berry – 2

Asked to organize the Union defense, track runs into the box, and cover for an overmatched Wheeler, Berry simply caved under the pressure. His lack of pace and agility was clearly exploited as he had no answer for the likes of Nguyen and Diego Fagundez once they got into the attacking third. As mentioned above, he was put on an island in the second half and had little chance to right the ship given such a severe tactical disadvantage.

Aaron Wheeler – 2

This may seem harsh on the recently minted defender, but when a manager dispatches one of center backs and his game plan after only 52 minutes in a two-goal game, something clearly has gone very wrong. While there have been matches in which he has shown his soccer IQ and ability to adjust to defense at an impressive rate, New England’s challenge took Wheeler from Center Back High all the way to a PhD in CB, and he simply failed this particular exam. Whether he was fouling needlessly, punting the ball into touch, or standing around watching the play, it was a night that the strikefender will want to erase from his memory as quickly as possible.

Sheanon Williams – 5

Took quickly to his role at left back and clearly relished the additional physicality of his encounter with Bunbury. Far more focused in the final third than in past weeks, Williams started well with a pinpoint cross to Wenger and continued to be a menace getting forward, wrapping up his day with a slick finish for the Union’s second goal.

Amobi Okugo – 5

Similarly composed and metronomic with his passing in the midfield, Okugo pushed play forward, picked out his teammates and tried to provide a spark.

Vincent Nogueira – 6

For the second straight match, Nogueira looked to be in his comfort zone playing in a deep-lying, central midfield role, alongside Okugo. His ability to turn in consistent, solid shifts is truly impressive, but his frustration appears to be growing by the match, which manifest itself in remonstrations towards the referee and his assistants, as well as plenty of arm-waving in the middle of the park. His 36th minute volley was one of the finest strikes every produced in a Union shirt and gave some momentum back to the home side going into halftime.

Danny Cruz – 5

Continued to provide a valuable link going forward, with his direct play working well in juxtaposition to the more technical approach of Maidana and Nogueira. Showed poise to lay off a soft pass that allowed Nogueira to smash home to cut the Revs lead to 2-1 in the first half. Was unlucky to be subbed instead of other more deserving candidates on the night.

Cristian Maidana – 4

Continued to show that while he has a bag full of tricks, he tries to make the flashy play far too frequently, often forgoing the simple and conceding possession too easily. While the Union are in dire need of the chances he creates — and he did provide 3 key passes — his 56 percent pass completion is well below where it needs to be. A late rush of blood ended Maidana’s night early, which cost him a point and will no doubt force a reshuffle when the Union head to LA this weekend.

Leo Fernandes – 2

After struggling to impose himself in Kansas City, Fernandes was even more anonymous against New England. Not only were his touches few and far between, but he also misplaced too many simple passes that led to Union attacks sputtering to a halt. While Fernandes clearly has the skills required on the ball, he is too easily knocked off the ball in the center of the park.

Andrew Wenger – 3

Offered very little of the hold-up play he delivered in Kansas City and struggled to with the ball at his feet. Far too stagnant in his runs, when Wenger did get on the ball, he completed less than 50 percent of his passes, at least 3 of which killed promising attacking moves. Given the amount of minutes he has played since arriving in Philadelphia, 683 in 8 games, it is fair to begin wondering if the former backup to Marco Di Vaio could use a night off.


Antoine Hoppenot – 5

Looked a lot more like his old self than he has in recent showings. Hoppenot not only drew a penalty, but he also laid off a few clever passes and looked to assert himself while on his feet. As the game slipped away, he at least offered a performance on which to build.

Sebastien Le Toux – 5

With the match largely done and dusted when he entered, Le Toux did his best to provide an option up front, but with Hoppenot and Wenger already on the scene it was largely a case of too many cooks in the kitchen.

Zach Pfeffer – N/A

Seemingly unfazed by the lopsided scoreline, Pfeffer got straight to work and showed very few nerves in the face of a tough situation for his side. With three matches to play before the World Cup break, Pfeffer should get his shot at more minutes and maybe a start or two, especially with Maidana suspended.

Geiger Counter

Ted Unkel – 2

Lacked the conviction of a top referee and the players clearly sensed it from the opening whistle. Erratic in his calls, Unkel seemed to swallow his whistle for 5-10 minute spells, before awarding a rash of free kicks, drawing both the confusion and the ire of the players, coaches, and fans. Too often, MLS referees get called out unfairly for poor performances, based on past reputation, but this was not one of those occasions. Had he acted quickly and sternly to stop some dirty, unnecessary, cheap fouls, players on both sides, specifically Wheeler and Mullins, would have had early yellow cards with which to deal, and the players would have been more comfortable with understanding where the line was.

Also, if MLS ever wants to blot out the blight of diving, someone is going to have to hand out a yellow card at some point. Unkel waved Bunbury back to his feet no less than 3 times after dramatic flops without brandishing a card. That needs to change.

Preferred lineup for Sunday’s trip to LA Galaxy


MacMath; Gaddis (RB), Berry (RCB), Okugo (LCB), Williams (LB); Carroll, Nogueira; Cruz (R), Pfeffer (C), Fernandes (L); Le Toux


  1. Let’s just pretend that one didn’t happen. Yes, there record is bad, but they haven’t been getting blown out all year. I’m going to treat that one as an outlier and see what happens on the West Coast.
    The Preferred lineup is upsetting, only because the team is much more potent with Amobi in the midfield. However, he is needed on the backline, so it’s a move out of necessity.
    The WC break can’t come soon enough…

    • Andy Muenz says:

      We knew this was going to be tough after going halfway across the country midweek and playing against a rested Revolution.

  2. If I were Zac Mac I would be hoping and praying that they decide to keep Blake and ship me off in the transfer window. Is their a less competent team defense in MLS? The back line has no shape at all, how can you play both a high AND flat line!?

  3. Eli,
    Excellent point about the initial substitution really not being successful, and in fact, having the opposite effect as to what was intended. My first reaction was “wow, Hack’s really going for it early”, but it absolutely did take two very active players (Gaddis, Williams) out of the attack and pull others farther back to provide cover. They need you in the locker room to help with halftime adjustments.

    Also, it feels strange to say, but I’ve been really impressed by Cruz these last few weeks. I do think he’s earned a steady starting role for now. Agree with getting LeToux more time up top as well – he’s obviously been very capable in the past and would like to see him get a few games to see if we can recover the magic. Would prefer him paired with someone like Wenger as the 2014 approximation of Alejandro Moreno, but want to see him get a solid chance up top. Not feeling great about Fernandes after a few rough games, but given choices available this week, not sure what else to do there!

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    Much as I agree that MacMath had a good night with some of the point blank saves, he does have to accept some of the blame on the first goal for the poor clearance before Wheeler’s foul.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      I don’t think that he does. MacMath’s distribution has improved dramatically this year and while it was not one of his best, Wheeler just chose to bulldoze the Revs attacker rather than try to contain him and win the ball.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Actually, I think it was his worst clearance of the year (or maybe even his career) just a complete miskick. I suppose we can let an occasional physical error like that slide.

    • I completely agree. Ten players were released up field anticipating a long clearance from MacMath, which turned into a shank deep in our end. Defenders were sprinting back into position as the throw-in was made and we were unsettled and out of our defensive shape when the foul was made. Terrible foul, but the shanked clearance put everyone on their heels.

      • Atomic spartan says:

        That shanked clearance, if I remember correctly, came as a result of poor defensive judgement that pu undo pressure on MacMath. Dominoes like that were falling all night.

  5. Ivor Driver says:

    MacMath should have done better on the 1st goal. A corner headed in 4 yards from goal is a ball a goalie needs to get. MacMath is a solid shot stopper and one of this season’s few bright spots but his command of the box in the air is often suspect.

    Both Fernandes and Wenger need to sit a game. After a bright start to the season, Fernandes has faded badly and has done little to warrant starting as of late even with Edu and Carroll missing. Hack has tied his fortunes to Wenger after trading McInerney for him but the season really started to take a drop after that trade. Wenger should not be an automatic starter given his lack of production – Hack should dump his 4-3-3 and go 4-4-2 with some pairing of Wenger, LeToux and Casey up top until they sign a true striker in the transfer window.

    • Watch the replay and you see that Gaddis decided to duck instead of head that ball out…

      • UnionDues says:

        Gaddis simply refuses to challenge anything in the air. He never leaves his feet, and it’s a huge deficiency in his game.

        This is at least the third time this year where it did or nearly cost the team dearly. I’m reminded of the Chicago game earlier this year where he ducked a challenge from Mike Magee, who in turn rose over him to nearly head the ball in from a corner. Magee is the same height as Gaddis at 5’9″.

        If I’m the coach, that’s unacceptable for me and he doesn’t play again until he shows he will make aerial challenges.

    • Nope, that ball had pace and was front post. He would have had to jump through 5 people to get to that ball before the header. After the header, he had no chance in stopping it unless it was hit right at him.

      • He should have stayed on his line then and made himself big, instead he came out for no reason…it’s his biggest weakness (though he’s played really well). But that goal is all on Ray. He needs to man up there.
        I love Ray, but you DO NOT duck corner kicks in your box.

      • So watching the replay Ray really needed to at least attempt to get something on the cross even just a deflection. Instead, it looked like he was hoping someone else behind him would challenge to the ball. having said that, the real blame is on Berry. The player who scored was his mark and he let him free, unacceptable! Berry has been poor and disappointing. It amazes me how bad these defenders are with marking up and with heading the ball away. I could do a better job at this point….or maybe they weren’t ready to mark up like in every game this season.

      • I agree, Gaddis takes the most responsibility on that goal (though Wheeler was responsible for giving up a free kick in that dangerous location)

  6. John Ling says:

    Definitely Wheeler’s worst game. He likely would’ve earned a yellow had he not been removed when he was.
    Pfeiffer impressed. He seemed poised; if he was nervous it didn’t show in his play.
    What a shot by Gaddis that just missed the top corner! Wowza!
    What a shot from Noguiera! Double Wowza!
    Williams looked comfortable enough on the left that I’m willing to say he stays there and Gaddis stays right. That said, I don’t like him trotting across the field to take throws from Gaddis’s side of the field. (And I say that realizing full well that it was exactly that which lead to Nog’s goal.)
    Hindsight is 20/20 of course. In addition to Eli wondering about Ethan White playing in place of Wheeler, I’ll go ahead and mention another option that I think was viable – leaving Williams at CB and finding another fullback. Le Toux has played it, for example (though I have no idea how effectively, since he lasted about 30 seconds before injury caused him to come out last year). Ideal? Nope, of course not. But since playing Wheeler didn’t work this time, it does open things up to speculation.
    And as I’ve said elsewhere, if I need to be in a situation where I’m going to have a CB learning on the job, I’d rather it be Marquez. He’s at least a CB by trade.
    I sort of understand shifting to a 3-5-2, but the sub wasn’t the right one. If you want to make that formation shift, take out Leo, put in Hoppenot, and move Wheeler forward. Drop Wenger back to the mid so you have Wheeler and Hoppenot up top; Okugo, Nog, and Maidana moving around the center if the mid; and Wenger and Cruz on the outside. (Of course, as I said above Wheeler was clearly on his way to getting a yellow, so maybe that factored into the decision.)
    Lastly, a question: Did Maidana deserve straight red? I thought so at the time, but I like to verify this sort of thing and make sure I’m seeing the game “right” and learning the little intricacies.
    Lineup vs. LA? Right to left: MacMath; Gaddis, Berry, Williams, Fabinho; Okugo; Noguiera, Pfeiffer; Cruz, Le Toux, Hoppenot. The three forwards rotate around, rather than sticking strictly to left-center-right, giving LA different looks and prodding the defense in different places. Okugo lies a little deeper in mid than Nog, helping to connect the defense to the offense, using his vision, and taking advantage of his long passing skills. Nog and Pfeiffer work wherever they can find space, bringing in the full backs and the wingers to build play, and look to set somebody free behind the defense. Berry gets speed on both sides, with Gaddis and Williams, to help make him a little more comfortable; Fabinho gets help defensively from Williams. Not ideal, but with suspensions and callups…

    • Yea he absolutely deserved a red. He came in late, studs up and high. Bunberry mostly got out of the way of it. But they are punishing the play not the result. So I think a red is justified.

      Here it is…

      • Yea it could go both ways for me, either a yellow or red. I think Mullins should have gotten a yellow or even a red for his excessive diving, what a little bitch! The refs really need to start carding players when they go down even if it might be a legit foul. It is the only way to deter the diving in my opinion.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I don’t see an issue with Sheanon taking throws from both sides. Given the versatility between he and Ray, there’s no reason they can’t switch sides for a few minutes.
      Regarding the red, I would put it at 50/50. His studs were not down, but it also looked like there was minimal or no contact and the New England player was looking to go down. Probably a red on Chaco and a yellow on the New England player would have been the right call, but as Eli pointed out, Unkel doesn’t understand the concept of a yellow card for diving. (He was a pathetic ref in WPS and pathetic in MLS as well.)

    • John Ling says:

      Thanks, Gents. Like I said, I thought it was straight red when I saw it, but I like to verify to increase my learning curve.

  7. kingkowboys says:

    I don’t understand why White continues to sit on the bench. He’s either got more rust than Mars or he is terrible.
    Right now I’m stuck in mental purgatory with this team. On one hand I see flashes of potential and quality, on the other I see games like this where the defense gets exposed. I don’t know if this season has potential or if we need to build for next.
    We need to stabilize the back line. We can’t shuffle players anymore. I would leave Fabinho out and lock in a line. I think a game with White and Berry paired with Okugo in front of them is warranted. Let Gaddis play on the left and Williams on the right. We need to build from the back right now.
    Fernandes and his spot is the position up for grabs. I would like to see Pfeffer get some chances as well as plugging Maidana in that spot with a Le Toux and Cruz winger setup. I would be looking at HCI for our prospects too. Anyone in form should be getting a shot.

    • I’m with you on the mental purgatory… We’ve been within one goal every game except this past game, which has been maddening.

      • The reason that our defense was so bad is because Okugo was not in the back and I would argue that because Fabinho was not in the back as well. For the LA match, I would go starting from the left:

        -Marquez and Rebriero should be called up as well.

      • The Black Hand says:


      • I agree with Williams in the back – the best he’s looked all year was against SKC – but I would also consider Carroll. The one thing he consistently brings to the table is the ability to cut down passing lanes and interrupt ball movement. He’s experienced and cool under pressure, and that would allow Okugo to move up into the D-Mid spot where he’s been so effective. Unless White is fantastic there is no easy solution to the back 4, unless Okugo moves back, and then you lose his ability to push the attack forward.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Carroll at CB?
        People have been suggesting a look at Carroll at the CB. I personally hate the idea. He is far too soft, when tackling, and has a tendency to drift.
        Carroll at The DM?
        Hate it. He is a turnover machine, that takes away our ability to link play and he crowds his fellow central midfielder. I like him coming off the bench, situationally. I feel that going back to Carroll, as a shoe-in starter, is the wrong direction for this club. It

  8. +1 for “strikefender”

  9. The Black Hand says:

    Tough one to rate. We were bad.
    The preferred XI makes me want to apologize, now, to Vincent Noguiera. I think going back to Carroll is a mistake (Regression sucks). I’d opt for another look at Williams at CB (only time he looked anything close to decent), and keep Okugo at the 6. This club needs to evolve, not go back to a version where ‘we sucked but kept the score low’.

    • I agree with williams to center back at least as long as he remains a better option than two of white, berry or wheeler and fabinho is healthy. I would rather see that then move okugo back to CB.
      I am close to a point where I Don’t believe even with the addition of a striker we have what it takes to be a real contender. I would rather put players where they are best, fill in with the best of the rest and play into form looking to clear out and bring in for next year. I Know thats we we were supposed to do last year but I am in it for the long haul so I can live with some years of dissapointment if (thats a big if) it results in a more stable and solid team.

      • Contender? In the words of John Bender, “Not even close- BUD.”
        Agreed, a striker solves 1/2 of one problem but the other holes are too many. We are so defensively porous the new striker would only draw the game every other week.

      • Ah, but a new coach solves everything.

      • Philly Cheese says:

        Problem with “next year” planning, is we may not have Nog and Amobi which you are assuming are part of the core. We lost Jack with assumption he could not be signed for new contract after this season.

  10. Hezekiah Ezekiel Schmitz says:

    I know that n=1, but Sheanon on the left, Ray on the right looks like a solid idea from here out. Sheanon loses less being on that side than Ray does.

    Ray is painfully close to transforming into an elite RB. Many keepers wouldn’t have stopped that screamer he launched on goal late in the game. He just needs to add that part of his game and he’ll be there.

    I wonder what it would look like with Carroll at CB, Okugo at D-mid, Edu as more of a line to line mid, and Nogueira as an attack focused mid.

    • kingkowboys says:

      I think Carroll at CB would be a nightmare. He is so used to zonal marking as a CDM that he’ll lose his man. Maybe his awareness makes up for that but he’s nothing in the air. We already have issues with set pieces. I think this would make that worse.

    • Carroll at CB. Hmm…..
      tried every other formation. why not.

      • Cmon. Brian Carroll is a STRIKER! Don’t you know anything? It’s one more sign of Union brilliance!

      • Carroll is the only one that has not yet been converted–why not now.

      • At this point, Carroll to CB, and Sheanon back to FWD. Could work. Just kidding. But seriously.

  11. Great analysis as usual. I think that, for the record, 3-5-2 is not necessarily a more offensive formation than 4-4-2 and definitely not more offensive than 4-3-3. So that sub was very odd. To me, it was a pure Nowak move.
    That was the best shot I’ve seen from Ray.
    Cruz was not unlucky to be subbed off, he should expect to be subbed off early every match, because of his style of play. He falls down a lot.

    • I agree about Cruz. I thought he played well (the assist on the Nogueira was an astute play), but his style of play necessitates that he come out after 60-70 minutes. His skill set is such that he is only effective if he plays in high-gear, and as a result he becomes more fatigued than the other players on the field and thus susceptible to injury or earning a card due to a poor challenge. This ties the manager’s hands since he has to use one of his subs on Cruz and then only has two other subs to use. I think Cruz is better suited to come off the bench in the 60-70 minute range (like how Hoppenot has traditionally been used by Hack) when the other players on the field are tired and he is fresh.

      • Most american players missed the lesson on ‘Pause’.
        rush rush rush rush.
        though Danny has a whole different level of rush rush rush.

      • I have to disagree since using them as subs is the way Hackworth has been using both Cruz and Hopp. I think starting them both might give this team the spark they need and a safe and fresh change to the line up. I could be wrong but both could easily play a full 90 I think. But I do not disagree with taking Cruz off if he is tired because you’re right about when tired it can create more mistakes and fouls.

    • kingkowboys says:

      I have to agree that Cruz is coming off 99% of the time in this situation. He started in KC and this game. He plays balls to the wall the whole time. No one has the stamina to do that twice on short turn around.

    • kingkowboys says:

      Absolutely agree about the formation. Clogging up the midfield is not going to be more offensive for us. We would have been better off pushing okugo and the attack side back higher into the final third. At least that gives us another playmaker and an overlap near the box.

      • This “3-5-2” wasn’t intended to clog the middle…they already play 5 in the middle. It was intended to bring in another striker. Hack got the numbers right, but the players and tactics wrong, as usual. I would have pushed Amobi back, Wheeler to FWD for a few mins, and subbed Berry off for Pfeffer. OR if he wanted his boy Hop, then he could have done the same and played 3-4-3.

      • kingkowboys says:

        No that formation and the intention was not to clog the middle, but we do not have midfielders making runs at or behind the back line anyway. The tactics for this formation were incorrect.

    • 3-5-2 is offensive with the likes of Tevez and Llorente.

    • …they don’t play 4-3-3. It’s a 4-5-1. With the team built with so many Dmids (when Edu is here) they SHOULD play a 3-5-2. With a 3-5-2 and a pivot d-mid, you get 5 behind the ball at all times and can still be attack minded. Depending on the game, you can go defensive: Okugo (CB), Berry (LCB), Gaddis (RCB), Williams (RWB), Fab (LWB), fill in the rest — or more attacking, just Okugo, Sheanon, Gaddis as a tight backline and your normal attackers and dmids in front.

      • kingkowboys says:

        The general opinion is that this formation does not work because it leaves too much space out wide in the corners. There are plenty of wide players in MLS, I would be concerned that we would get caught running at our own goal way too much. I also don’t think we have CBs that are good enough to run this formation.
        I think we should run a real 4-3-3. Don’t have the wingers tracking back as far. Let them try to beat the line and get to the end line or cut inside on goal. Cruz is made for this (kills me to say it), so is Le Toux.

  12. Honestly, from where I sat, Williams was pretty bad and Cruz actually pretty good, except that he really offers nothing in support defensively, which makes it tougher for the defender on that side. So I wouldn’t have given them the same score. I assume Williams actually scoring accounts for his rating, but I didn’t think his work was very good. Gaddis also shirked away from goal number 1. It’s an isolated mistake, but pretty costly. Also thought Maidana offered next to nothing. Was very disappointed. He seems like he’s playing a different game. Too slow. Yet again, the team is crying for creativity and speed in the attack. Only difference Saturday was that the defending wasn’t any better.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Agreed. Williams was really bad. Too much pushing and shoving (Could have been called for double-digit fouls). WAY too much time playing Left Wing.
      Cruz wasn’t awful, but his touch sure was. Tough to get anything going, when he keeps dis possessing himself. That said, his tempo gives us something…just not sure what that is, yet.

      • I agree Cruz definitely needs to work on his ball control, like other players as well.

    • kingkowboys says:

      I have seen Cruz play defense effectively in games. This game he probably was told not to since we were behind from the get go. Overall I think Cruz has improved over last year. Needs to keep working and developing but better.
      He spent almost all winter working out at YSC. I have to give him credit for extra work. I think it’s helped. Yes his time at YSC is accurate family and friends work their.

      • that’s great he was working out but I don’t know what at YSC would help him maybe he could find a club in Europe and train with them

      • Someone should have made Cruz where a neck brace while training years ago to keep him from looking down on the dribble. Simple fix.

      • kingkowboys says:

        There are several international professional coaches at that facility. I hope he was working on touch, crossing, and vision. The extra reps alone would do him well. Plus like I mentioned they have internationals to teach him a different style/tactical approach than a stereotypical american style.

  13. Hezekiah Ezekiel Schmitz says:

    I’d also like to add that Mullins is a little punk and I hope he has a career ending ACL injury. Never have I grown to hate someone so quickly.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      I would put Mullins many late challenges down to poor refereeing. His full blown assault on Berry in the opening minutes was just one of a series of cautionable offenses in which he engaged. If Unkel deals with him properly, he’s carrying a verbal warning and then a yellow card 20 minutes into the game and has to adapt or risk an ejection.
      And let’s knock off wishing injury on people. Please and thank you.

    • I can’t agree on the wishing him injury but the first thing I thought when he fouled Berry early on was “where’s Corben Bone when we need him”.

    • Wow H.E.S that is formidable ignorance.

  14. I truly would not make too much of this game, bad as it was. First, even more elite teams have an occasional letdown that does not reflect their quality (witness Seattle’s 5-0 thrashing by these same Revs last week). Second, New England is on an amazing tear right now (see their 5-0 thrashing of Seattle last week). Third, we were missing 4 defensive-half players, testing depth immensely when said smokin’ hot opponent comes through. Fourth, this was the 3rd game in 8 days, which would be tough even for a top team against a lesser opponent, and even further tests said depth. Think maybe the latter has something to do with why Wenger and Fernandes looked flat??

    The thing that bothered me the most was when Hackworth subbed Hoppenot for Wheeler. I knew, right when he did it, that that was a big mistake. When your defense can’t control the other team with 4 defenders, how are they gonna do it with 3?

    But I think there was a major bright spot from this game: the Union, who went eleventy thousand minutes without scoring, and even more without scoring from open play, now have 5 goals in 2 matches, 4 from open play. Yes there was a complete defense breakdown this game, but that hasn’t really been their major problem. So I feel like this game actually shows the potential this team has to keep up over the rest of the season if they can get it all together.

    • To take up your second point, or, paragraph, or, the PB&J in your sandwich above, the answer is, in a 3-5-2 your outside midfielders are wing-backs. They are expected to defend, and in reality they end up defending more than they attack. 3-5-2 ends up looking like 5-3-2 a lot of the time, with 3 center backs. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s a valid thing for the Union to think about, and maybe even practice, but 3-5-2 is not at all what they needed at that point in the match. To my eye it looked like maybe Coach wanted 3-4-3 but that’s not how it played out.

      • I appreciate your analysis. But I believe you’re talking about playing a 3-5-2 as a long-term, ongoing thing, not in an emergency situation in a come-from-behind match. Hackworth clearly did that to aggressively go after a comeback at home. And while I appreciate that, it seemed foolhardy the way the Revs were slicing up our backline. And it was.

    • “the sun’ll come out tomorrow, tomorrow tomorrow i love ya tomorrow. you’re only a day away.”
      thanks for the cheer up. there is a bright spot.

  15. Eleventy thousand? Wow, I had no idea the scoring drought was that long. What does that translate to in Parsecs?

    Sorry, I had to reference the theme of the game.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      12, about equivalent to the benchmark for the Kessel Run.

      • the Kessel Run. I make a 27th St. Kessel Sundae Run every summer night down the shore. every night. and it is about 12 parsecs in June and 20 parsecs in August- you can figure out why. Well done Dan.

      • John Ling says:

        Nice tie-in to Star Wars night, Dan.

      • Not for nothing but did either of you guys read the post Dan was responding to? It won’t bring the Union a win but can I get a little credit?

      • The original brilliance is yours alone my friend- we are all just playing off it. Credit served. 🙂

      • Would have been more if you crrected Scotts reference at the same time. “Eleventy Billion” is the correct answer Mr. Trabeck…good stuff tho.

      • Dan Walsh says:

        The force is strong with this one.

  16. Austin Berry is an absolute nightmare and a complete slug as a player. Yes, Wheeler is committing all kinds of mistakes and hurting the team, but at least he puts in an effort.

    I am fine with moving Williams in the center and playing him with White or Marquez or someone else they can find. I want nothing to do with Berry.

    And what the hell was Hackworth doing composing this team? They’ve got 4 CDM’s (Okugo, Carroll, Edu, and Nog) You can disagree with Nog if you want, but his is definitely not a CAM. They don’t have a single CAM on the roster. They have no legitimate CB’s unless White can somehow magically turn into a player and Williams is moved there. They have no legitimate goal scorers who play forward. And with the #1 pick in the draft, they pick a keeper, who doesn’t play and is actually a year older than the starting keeper. Blake may be a stud, but MacMath is absolutely not the problem with this team.

    • kingkowboys says:

      Maidana played more of a CAM role in Argentina than he did as a LW. You are right that Nog is not a CAM but he’s not a CDM either. We actually still have 4 CDMs in Carroll, Okugo, Edu, Lahoud. Edu is supposed to be more of a box to box role, but since we aren’t running a standard 4-3-3 we end up with Carroll and Edu playing a holding role.
      It also looks unbalanced since Nog and Maidana are consistently closer to the middle than the sideline. Then there is Cruz out wide on the right then Wenger in the middle. I know it’s supposed to be a free flow system, but I would like to see some discipline and shape instead. Change something for F*** sake.

  17. OneManWolfpack says:

    The “Substitutions take things from bad to worse” paragraph is literally the exact reason that John Hackworth should not be managing this team. Go ahead… read it again. See what I mean?!? Spot on Eli… spot on. Hackworth is clueless as an in-game manager.
    That Noguiera goal was as impressive as any goal I’ve seen all year, in any league. I really hope they give him a raise after the season and he doesn’t bolt. He deserves it for sure.
    The first goal was a phenomenally bad combination of Zac’s missed clearance and Wheeler’s complete inability to play CB.
    Hey this team plays better in the road right? Two wins coming up?! Right… right?!?!

    • they could win two or draw one and win one, not impossible to think that as a team they could bring home 4 points, and they’ll be in LA so I hope at least a few of the guys score

    • Well at least they play LAG at a good time. I believe LA has a game on Wednesday and then us on Saturday so we should get a tired team. Also Donovan and Gonzo are obviously with the USMNT so that helps. And I think there is a chance Keane may miss out with the Ireland team.

    • As impressive as Alexis’ howitzer from Messi. I was right behind Nogs on that shot, saw it in slow mo the whole way. Magic.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      Everyone likes Ray Gaddis, including me, but if you’re not blaming Gaddis for the first goal, you’re not paying attention. He has major problems on set pieces.

      • The Black Hand says:

        He could have jumped, I’ll give you that. We probably shouldn’t be asking a guy that is 5’9 to defend set pieces, in the goal mouth…jus’ sayin

      • Gaddis clearly owns a big piece of that first goal, though it was a comedy of errors that led up to the big finish – McMath shank sideways out of bounds had everyone sprinting back to recover, leading to a really poor foul from Wheeler, then the uncontested header. Lots of issues on that one.

      • Dan Walsh says:


      • Looked more to me that Berry lost his mark on that goal. It seems on set pieces he loses his mark often.

  18. The Chopper says:

    I am just going to let this game go. It had disaster written on it from the get go and it certainly delivered on that promise. Yes we see why Chicago had no problem parting with Berry, but he was serviceable enough next to Williams in the KC game, I am ok with seeing that KC back four again with Fabhino available and Okugo at CDM. Even if playing Carroll at CDM and Okugo at CB makes us better in the short term, it is now about developing a squad and tactics for the long term.

    Hindsight is 20/20, but with the short turnaround and the expectation that your defense was going to be hard pressed to hold off the Revs, it really would have not been a bad idea to throw a lot more fresh legs into the XI. Why not rest Wenger who worked his ass off Wednesday and give Casey or LeToux a go. And by all means sit Fernadez, who sucked anyway on Wednesday and give Pfeffer a run. I cut Hack more slack than most, but he really came up empty.

    Now he needs to find a way to replace Chaco. Please do not move Fabhino up the field.

  19. “… though suspensions, injuries, and international duty undoubtedly played a part in making the scoreline as ugly as it turned out on Saturday evening.”
    Carroll was out for both games due to injury. Edu and Lahoud were out for both because of international duty. Fabinho was the only one out for the Revs game because of suspension.
    It’s amazing. What was essentially only a Wheeler-Fabinho swap in the starting XI had such a major impact between the two games.
    Oh, and Mullins is a d-bag. Full stop.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I hate his stupid hair. Just complaining that’s all.

      • I like him (except that he’s a punk and on NE). But wouldn’t you be if you were the Herman Trophy winner and everyone said you couldn’t play in MLS?
        Having all nice guys with no bite = the Union (hence Jack traded).
        I wish the U had drafted him.

      • Herman Trophy winner?
        See Wenger, Andrew.

      • His head reminds me of Tony Manero. “My hair! Why you always touching my hair?”

  20. Great One says:

    Lots of bad play all around. Really Okugo and Nogueira are the only ones clear of it right now. Cruz is decent for what we need right now, but he had plenty of bad play as well. Even Ray looked bad.
    The most depressing thing to me is the proposed lineup and explanation. Really? There’s jsut nothing we can do at this point?
    Also, Fernandes should not be starting for a while.

  21. philpill says:

    Was everyone that much worse than the SKC game, or are we just 2 extraordinary saves away from a 11 game winless streak & the bottom of the standings? Both?

  22. We are just plain bad….from CSN Philly–>Stat of the week:
    The Union (2-6-5) have more losses than any other team in the league and have the second worst points-per-game average (0.85), ahead of only Montreal.

    • The Black Hand says:


    • The Black Hand says:


    • The Black Hand says:

      So Much

    • We’ve also played the most games, 13. 3 more than Montreal. If Montreal goes 1-1-1 in those 3 games they’re tied with us.
      There is much less time to turn things around. Just as Eastern Conference games in August and September are “6-point” games, points dropped when you’ve already played more games than the rest of the league become twice as costly.

      • Yikes. Sounds like we are fighting to be the 2nd worst instead of the worst team in MLS. Any other league and we are in the relegation zone. How mad would we all be if we were going down to the NASL!

  23. Stephano says:

    It’s amazing how bad you look when you get your ass whoop Montreal hockey team looked terrible getting there ass kicked. Everyone one should of gotten a 0 grade for the shit that was on the field. That said go kick LA ass this weekend and play Williams as your striker since we don’t have anyone who can

  24. Shopping list for July 8th –
    Starting Center-Back
    Elite Scorer
    Attack-minded playmaker
    Left-footed midfielder for the bench

    The Union have won 2 games in the month of August in 4 seasons. 2. The first was against New England in 2010, the other was against D.C. last year. This team has to learn how to win, simple as that. We brought in Edu (2010 World Cup) and Nogueira (former captain) to complement the veteran leader in Carroll, yet they still lack that killer instinct. This team has struggled even when they’ve been the better team, and that can’t be blamed entirely on Hackworth. Someone (besides Nog) needs to step up on the field and will this team to victory.

    • This is a breeze right. Not asking too much. Did we leave anything out in this list -a Brendan Rodgers type maybe?

    • I’ll stick with “attack-minded playmaker.” That’s what the team needs more than anything else. With Edu back in the fold, Okugo can play CB with Berry or Wheeler and its serviceable. I think the strikers look worse because they’re on islands. They’re not terrific, but with the right orchestration, we have players who could score goals. I just didn’t see a ton of good chances created.

  25. Are we ever getting Carlos Valdes back after the World Cup? We still own him.

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