Player ratings

Player ratings & analysis: Union 3-3 Whitecaps

Photo: Paul Rudderow

It was not quite Istanbul, 2005. But like Rafa Benitez, John Hackworth inserted a defensive midfielder at halftime, fixed his team’s shape, and allowed the Union to earn an unlikely point at home. After hitting the Union with two first half sucker punches, Vancouver put no shots on goal in the second half except for the penalty kick that would earn them a road point.

Last week, PSP suggested that the coaching staff could focus on the positives of the win over Chivas or the negatives of the stinging loss to the Galaxy. Based on the Union’s tactics to start the Vancouver match, Hackworth opted for the former.

It was an unfortunate choice.

The Whitecaps did not overrun the Union like Los Angeles (and New England before them). Instead, they did what they have done throughout their current seven-game unbeaten run: Let the Union take their shots, then break out with speed.

Fix it with five

Before we get into the numbers, let’s start with some anecdotal evidence. Since their last loss, how many teams have played a five-man midfield against Vancouver? Just two: Columbus and Philadelphia in the second half yesterday. That Columbus match was the only time during their run of good form that Vancouver scored fewer than two goals. Coincidence? Possibly. But the Whitecaps’ performance against a five-man midfield for Philadelphia suggests otherwise.

Columbus took out Anor (top) for Meram (bottom) to put more pressure on Vancouver's central midfielders.

Columbus took out Anor (top) for Meram (bottom) to put more pressure on Vancouver’s central midfielders.

In the first half against Columbus, the Whitecaps had 12 attempts on goal to the home team’s four. In the second half, the Crew pulled Bernardo Anor for Justin Meram, who took up a more central role. The crowded middle made it tougher for the Caps to break out with speed, and a much more even period of football ensued.

But the loss to LA proved a powerful memory for the Union coaching staff. Instead of seeing that match for what it was — as poor a performance as Maurice Edu and Brian Carroll will ever have — they saw it as a tactical breakdown. Thus, the formation that defeated Chivas was named against Vancouver, with Zach Pfeffer replacing the injured Fred.

Lahoud provides stable foundation

To be clear, there was no fatal flaw in the Union’s tactical setup. Instead, the inherent weaknesses in a loosely organized midfield were exposed by a team that, unlike Chivas, is very, very deadly on the break.

Philly’s unorganized midfield is a function of two issues: First, Vincent Nogueira thrives in a free role, overloading the wide areas to create matchup problems. Second, the coaching staff bows at the altar of high pressure.

Nogueira wandered too much to be an effective partner for Edu in the first half.

Nogueira wandered too much to be an effective partner for Edu in the first half (top). With Lahoud involved, he was free to be himself.

In the first half, Nogueira should have been the second sitting midfielder. He has played the role effectively, most notably against Kansas City. But in the first half, Vancouver rarely dominated the pace of the game the way Sporting had. As a result, Nogueira was more encouraged to stride forward and leave his central role. And as another result, the swift, deadly Whitecaps counterattack found the lanes it needed to produce.

Once Lahoud was on the pitch, Nogueira was released from his defensive duties in the center of the park. He was able to overload the right side on offense and pressure Gershon Koffie and Matthias Laba defensively.

Lahoud stayed between Hurtado and Morales, slowing the Vancouver breakout.

Lahoud stayed between Hurtado and Morales, slowing the Vancouver breakout.

This leads into the second issue, that relentlessly uncoordinated Union defensive pressure. Good pressure is a collective effort. Barcelona teams are not the most athletic in the world, but they can play a high pressing game because they press as a unit. Philadelphia has a bad habit of pressing the ball but not the next closest man. This means teams pass around the pressure with alarming ease. The introduction of Lahoud gave the Union a midfield shape they have too often abandoned. Nogueira could step to the second man while Edu closed up space in the middle and Lahoud shut off any deeper outlets. Notably, Edu and Lahoud were very coordinated in how they stepped up to squeeze the midfield, with Okugo and Williams keeping the field tight behind them.

Another way to look at Philadelphia’s second half is to understand that having Michael Lahoud deep made everyone else’s role simpler. Nogueira was no longer torn between a central role and his preferred free role, Maidana’s freedom was restricted, and the player thrived as a more defined winger. Also, in the second half, Conor Casey kept a deeper line than Union forwards have for most of the season. This compressed the team’s shape and made the gaps that are usually exploited much smaller.

Fabinho tackles

Fabinho tackles

The confusing Fabinho equation

He is not a good defender. In fact, he’s a gambler. Without Jeff Parke around to clean up after him, that trait has been fully exposed and exploited. He is also not a good tackler, having won only 3 of his last 16. Finally, he does little to establish an offense in the final third, preferring to cross the ball immediately or take his man on.

Yet, with Sheanon Williams stationed centrally, he is the only option. This alone should have made John Hackworth hesitant about going with one holding midfielder against a team that he acknowledged as the fastest in the league. Going forward, the Union are going to have to do more to protect Fabinho against teams with speed.

What worked

Hackworth and company got to experience the classic soccer Catch-22: Does making a halftime substitution showcase your bold decision-making? Or does it rub highlighter all over the tactical mistakes you made lining up at the start of the game? In truth, it’s both.

As much as they should be castigated for using the Chivas match as any kind of formation guide, the coaching staff should be praised for an enlightened substitution that allowed the team to mount a threatening comeback.

Maidana had a clearer role in the second half, and he thrived.

Maidana had a clearer role in the second half, and he thrived.

Pushing Cristian Maidana wider took him away from the pressure of Vancouver’s central midfielders, and freeing up Nogueira created the overloads that allowed the Union to work out of pressure and hit the now-open Maidana crossfield. Once Maidana was open, the Union’s offense flourished.

Actually, Union offense may be too general. Conor Casey flourished. The big man in the middle took to good service like a drinking man to a cheesesteak, and his movement into holes left by the scampering Nogueira provided a deep option to fit Amobi Okugo’s exhilarating passing range.

In short, everything clicked in the second half for the first time this season. The offense looked coordinated, the defense was reasonably stout, and there was an actual point on the end of the Union spear.


As the Chivas game showed, it’s tempting to attribute good play to yourself and not a poor opponent. The Union were strong in the second half, but as good as they were, that’s how bad Koffie and Laba were. Is this because the Union blew their minds with movement and creativity? Or because those players were off their games from the start, with a pair of strong first half counterattacks papering over their poor play?

With a combined 73% passing between them, it’s fair to say Koffie and Laba were not at their best. When the Union press worked, it forced Vancouver’s deeper midfielders into bad decisions. This, of course, is how high pressure should work. Building on this tie should start with a more coordinated system of pressure going forward.

Finally, this game was a strong argument for keeping three clear central midfielders. With Edu and Nogueira, the Union have the ability to control space in the middle third. More tactical planning can make that zone the Union’s playground instead of the track where they chase play. Now the only question is who that third midfielder should be. I can safely assume the next chapter of The Great Brian Carroll Debate is upon us.

Player ratings

Zac MacMath – 4

Can’t save all the PKs. Unlucky to give up the penalty, but it was the right call.

Raymon Gaddis – 6

One of the better offensive performances from Gaddis, who has been reading play better and running off Nogueira when Okugo hits long passes. Gaddis also put in some pretty crosses and showed off his speed keeping up with Erik Hurtado and the Whitecaps offense. He got caught in two minds on the second goal, but it’s hard to train for “the left back just got dusted.”

Amobi Okugo – 5

Outside of the goals, Vancouver actually struggled to maintain pressure on the Union. Then again, that’s not what they were trying to do. Okugo and Williams got caught in No Man’s Land on the first goal, and the speed of the second counter meant Hurtado and Mezquida got to run riot over Fabinho and Gaddis alone. Winning four offensive headers is quite an achievement. Now Okugo just has to put more than one of them on frame.

Sheanon Williams – 5

Williams, like Okugo, was instrumental in engineering the team’s second half surge. By squeezing the field behind Lahoud, they made the midfield’s job much easier. He got lost on the first goal, but Williams rebounded to have a strong match, despite his outside back’s rough day.

Fabinho – 3

So confusing. Fabinho always seems just short of dangerous. He needs to improve his tackling if the Union are going to shore up this porous defense any time soon, and decisions in the offensive third need to be much, much better. The Brazilian’s aggressiveness paid off in some respects on Saturday, with 8 interceptions. But that type of gambling also left him out of position on the first goal. Also, 73% passing and 0/8 crossing isn’t going to cut it.

Maurice Edu – 5

After a quiet first half spent chasing shadows, Edu asserted himself in the second half and provided the type of quick decision-making and passing range that make his current middling form so frustrating. It finally seems like Edu is reading the game faster and stepping up to close space rather than sitting back and reacting to play.

Vincent Nogueira – 6

Tough one. Nogueira was his normal, buzzing self. But, boy, was that ever the wrong thing to be in the first half. The Union were generating a few opportunities through Maidana and Casey, and they just needed to make sure Vancouver couldn’t break out for an easy counter. No matter how good Nogueira is, if the rest of the team can’t count on him to be somewhere defensively, it’s going to lead to breakdowns. In the second half, freed of those pesky defensive responsibilities, Nogueira was untrackable, and Koffie and Laba were unable to figure out how to close him down.

Cristian Maidana – 7

The guy just has a dagger of an aerial ball when he has time. Thus far this season, Maidana has struggled to reliably create his own space. But when he has room to operate, he becomes a deadly weapon. With Pfeffer on the wing to start, Maidana was forced into a central area in front of Gershon Koffie, and he never found consistent space. Smartly moved wide in the second half, he was matched up with the conservative Nigel Reo-Coker, still learning the fullback position. And he thrived.

Zach Pfeffer – 4

Pfeffer was guilty of some bad turnovers and he struggled to get into the game. But when he got the ball wide, Pfeffer actually did a very good job of running at players and giving Fabinho space to overlap and cross. He was uncertain defensively and hesitant when out of his comfort zone, allowing himself to be pushed off the ball or submitting to a slower decision-making process than a player can afford in MLS. But don’t throw in the towel on Pfeffer. The skillset is still there, and his play in a more central role this season points to a brighter future there than on the wing.

Danny Cruz – 5

Did Danny Cruz just invent the winger/holding midfielder role? How else to explain a game where only 5 of 24 completed passes went forward and he finished with 6 tackles (and won 4 of them) and 2 interceptions? It’s like Cruz was out on the wing recycling play. But while he showed his usual energy, Cruz also showed his typical lack of positional discipline, and he failed to provide the reliable threat up the wing the Union needed to pin back Vancouver in the first half. That said, his offensive movement was superior to a typical outing and was partly responsible for the space Ray Gaddis found up the wing.

Conor Casey – 9

Maybe this performance alone did not garner a 9, but the implications it has for the Union’s season boost the total. Casey was an actual threat in the box all game, meaning the Union’s penchant for settling for crosses actually came with a bit of heat. After his first tally, the big center forward was a reliable outlet checking in, and he popped up whenever Laba and Koffie got pulled out chasing Nogueira. Just a smart, steady performance topped off with a succulent set of goals.

Michael Lahoud – 7

What more can you ask of Lahoud? He has hardly played this season, and he was asked to come in at halftime and save a game that looked to be getting out of hand. Importantly, Lahoud did not try to do it all. He just took over defensive duties, closed down the passing lane to Erik Hurtado, and moved the ball quickly when he got it. It was a fine performance for a defensive midfielder.

Sebastien Le Toux – 7

Just the most typical Le Toux-as-winger performance you’ll find. He pressed, he chased, and he got into the box, all while providing solid service (2/4 crossing, including corners).

Leo Fernandes – N/A

Needs to get his confidence back, Jozy-style.


  1. I was pleasantly surprised by Lahoud. The biggest knock I had on him in the past was a very negative/conservative approach when on the ball – everything seemed to go backwards. Against Vancouver, I thought he did a great job transitioning the team from defense to offense with smart, quick passes out of the back. Great substitution choice for all the reasons mentioned above in your analysis.

    • +1. I was shocked — pleasantly so — by Lahoud’s ability to actually get the D-to-O transition started, not just once, but repeatedly. I don’t recall ever seeing him play like that before. If he could do that routinely, Carroll would truly be surplus (i.e. trade bait).

      • The Chopper says:

        LaHoud has too often suffered from being an inaccurate passer. The rest of his game is strong, turnovers have been an issue. Not so on Saturday. If his passing has truly turned a corner he should see regular minutes.

    • scottymac says:

      Well, it was always highlighted when he shared a midfield with Carroll and Keon. Then no one moved forward.

  2. Pfeffer seemed to get open at times on the wing only to have Fabinho look at him, then look away. Even though he was wide open. Seemed like he just did not want to pass to him.

  3. Alex Schaefer says:

    Hard to understand why a draw at home has given Hack more time. He should have been fired by now. Union have 3rd worst points per game in league…only results hackworth now

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I disagree. Unless they have an experienced replacement available, replacing Hackworth just adds to the turmoil. Yes, he hasn’t made the greatest decisions and their are some BIG question marks on defense, but unless they have a specific plan to move forward, just saying “fire Hackworth now” doesn’t solve anything.
      More productive might be “bring back Valdes as soon as Colombia is eliminated”.

      • Yes, they shouldn’t fire him unless they have a valid replacement ready (don’t need an assistant moving up as an interim manager). However, they should have been discretely investigating options for a few weeks now so they could have WC break to work the new manager in with the team.

      • Jim Presti says:

        Everyday I look at my Valdes kit and hope that someday soon he’ll be back in Philadelphia. The Union could really use him right now.

      • George H says:

        How bout Jessie Marsch?

      • he is always the first guy that comes to mind. he seemed like he was good at making shrewd assholey moves that both hurt other teams and helped his team (i guess i’m mostly just talking about montreal’s expansion draft). plus he has already had to deal with joey saputo and i don’t think nick sak is as insane as he is. but who knows if he can actually coach

      • Paunovic.

      • Yes +100

      • Scottymac says:

        Carlos ain’t coming back. The Union are on their worst pace in 5 seasons, including the 2012 one that saw a coaching change. They’d need to get about 1.85 ppg in their last 18 to maybe take fifth. I don’t understand how an interim could possibly do worse.

      • Yes, let’s keep Hackworth. He knows what he’s doing. I swear. He’ll develop a method to teach these players how and when to defend as a team with a high press. He just wanted to see if they’d figure it out on they’re own. And he’ll teach Jimmy McLaughlin to perfect crosses with his left foot so that we will finally have our left back and Hack’s offensive master scheme will be in place. He just needs another 2-3 years. By that time, Maidana will be eating dinner earlier and MacMath will have made his transition to Forward.
        Oh, and he’ll finally, FINALLY, be able to select the players he wants and needs for his formation. When they ask, “coach, how does this system work?” he’ll say, “it’s a 4-3-3, we push the game.” And they’ll know exactly what to do. 2016. I’m sooo pumped!

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Your rant was spectacular. Haha

      • Dick Buttlewein says:


  4. It was a dominant performance by Casey, for sure. But how much of that dominance was due to DeMerit going off injured?
    No Geiger counter?

  5. This game just reaffirmed the opinion I’ve developed over the last few weeks: that the major fix needed for this team isn’t a striker, but a center back. In fact, probably 2 of them.

    I really wonder if there might be a plan to bring Valdes back. It would sort of explain the otherwise inexplicable move of training a forward as a center back — seems like kind of a temporizing move, right? Maybe just for the first 3 months of the season??…

    • Carlos is very good. But do you really think it would solve anything?

      • yes one of our biggest problems has been mistakes by our young and or inexperienced centerbacks

      • Or just an overall complete lack of understanding how the team is supposed to defend?
        And notice how Carlos wanted out from under Hack so he could make a World Cup? Notice how Baky Soumare wanted out from Hack. Notice how Jeff Parke wanted out from Hack.
        Notice White can’t get a game. Notice Berry is lost too. That’s just defense. …that’s a lot of players and one constant.

        It doesn’t matter. I love Valdes as a player. He needs to stay away for his own good.

      • i’m not defending hackworth here but i think you are creating a narrative that isn’t necessarily true. valdes wanted out because the colombia national team coach said he could not play in the us and make the world cup squad. soumare wanted out because he is in the prime of his career and was third in the depth chart. parke wanted out because being too close to his extended family was irritating him. i mean maybe they were making these things up because they were just being polite for some reason but that would be speculation.

      • Kyle what you said about valdes and soumare is 100% true. The parke one is still confusing though because he came to philly to be closer to his family.

      • I was just pointing out that for one reason or another, the CBs wanted out.

  6. The Black Hand says:

    Hackworth deserves his credit for this match. He went to half, with a lifeless club, and emerged with a hungry group. His substitutions were absolutely correct. He was a manager on Saturday.
    The club played a nice 2nd 45′.
    Okugo and Williams should be scrapped. Again, I will say that an Edu/Berry pairing would bring benefit all over the pitch. Edu is better suited for the CB, than Amobi (taller/more bruising). Amobi’s vision is needed in the midfield. (Dude was going for ‘Gerrard passes’!)
    Midfield played OK. Noguiera was FAR too deep, in the first half, choking out the space needed for he and Edu to operate. Pfeffer failed to get himself involved and looked every bit as green as he is. Cruz…he is Cruz. Lahoud put in a nice performance, off the bench. (Does this drop Carroll to #4 on the DM depth chart? It should!) LeToux gave us the boost we needed…Old School style.
    Up top, we were better. Casey was able to get himself involved. Still, we are relying too much on weak crossing and gimmick throw-ins. Our wide midfielders need to do a better job holding the width.
    Beautiful weather. A good 45′ from the Union. Tough to lose the 2pts., but I’m satisfied with the draw. Vancouver is a tough club.

  7. Why do you think the lahoud/edu/nogueira midfield worked so well but the carrol/edu/nogueria midfield almost never works? carrol and edu always seem like they are stepping on each other’s toes but that didn’t seem to be the case with lahoud

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      I think it was largely due to the Whitecaps sitting deep and defending their 2-0 lead. They don’t just defend deep, they also compact their width. As such, there was plenty of space into which the Union could press forward. With Vancouver only looking to launch counters, the spacing issues that have occurred in the past were never really put on trial. The Union midfielders were able to launch forward without much fear that the space behind them would be filled immediately the way it might be in matches in which the opposition is also trying to hold possession and push the tempo.

      • Adam Cann says:

        I agree with Eli, and I’ll add that I think it’s also about clear responsibilities. Lahoud entered with a mandate to cut out the fast break pass. Hurtado was able to check into space and turn in the first half; Lahoud was in that gap in the 2nd. When the Union midfield has clear assignments, they can play well. In Portland and KC, for example. Better defined roles simplify the game, and that’s what Philly needs to get on track.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Wait…clear assignments are real????

      • The Black Hand says:

        At one point, in the first half, Amobi was giving Edu the business for not pressing up higher on the pitch. It was nice to see someone willing to put a boot in Mo’s ass.
        As for Edu and Lahoud working better together, I agree that it had a lot to do with Vancouver trying to park the bus. That said, Michael Lahoud is much better than he gets credit for being. He is pretty well rounded and able to adjust. There is no adjusting with Brian Carroll. He is what he is…

      • Michael Lahoud has always suffered being the guy we got for Danny Califf. That trade was not his fault.

      • That much is true, but there were times when he only passed backwards when he had the ball, so fans got frustrated with him. That being said, he looked pretty good last night and has done so at times in the past. I believe he deputized at LB once or twice and I remember him doing well there. I wouldn’t mind seeing him there again if something were to happen to Fabinho.
        Also, his charity work is extremely admirable. I know that doesn’t have much to do with game form, but I think some people assume all athletes do stuff like that when that’s not always the case.

      • if he can play leftback i’d rather he be in there than fabinho. fabinho does not have much of an upside

      • +1. Lahoud is the type of player every coach should want on his roster.

  8. Adam. You have succinctly explained the two most glaring flaws of this team:

    1. “inherent weakness in a loosely organized midfield.”
    2. “relentless uncoordinated defensive pressure.”
    The primary reason I would like regime change is in point number two- the defense. I admire the philosophy. What is concerning is the lack of improvement in implementing that philosophy. I have written multiple times about the lack of proper defensive pressure and how it is exclusive from individual technical ability. Defensive pressure is solely about attitude, belief, tactical and positional understanding. I do not see improvement in this facet of the game which means the teacher is not properly teaching to the method or is unable to communicate his desires or is constantly switching roles of players and they are unable to just be who they are on the pitch within the framework of the team scheme.

    • Good points. I think there is a problem trying to play the high press game when your striker can’t cover much ground with any pace. That was the main reason the second outlet pass was always open. It was like they always have a man advantage against the high press.

    • So true. This is my issue with Hack. This is what he claims to be the basis of his team.

      Teaching a team how to pressure as a unit is not difficult. Telling them to just run hard all over field and expecting results is.
      This is what Hack values. It’s why BC is still here. It’s why Danny Cruz is here. It’s why he brought back LeToux. It’s why Jack is not here.
      A high pressing, organized team is very dangerous.
      A high pressing team with no direction is 3-7-6 with a negative Goal Differential.

  9. Andy Muenz says:

    Given the lack of Geiger counter, I’m going to give my most obvious criticism of the ref. How were there only 3 minutes of stoppage time in the 2nd half despite Tiebert being down for about a minute with his fake injury, 4 goals in the half (3 of which were tying or go ahead goals meaning celebration time), 1 PK which takes time to setup, and 4 subs. Seems to me that adds up to 4-5 minutes, not just 3.

  10. 1 – Is Hackworth still the coach? Yes, then who cares about this season, its a complete waste anyway.

    2 – When can we dump Edu? Unless the guy is going to play center back, he is a waste of space.

    3 – I guess Casey’s resurgence means no forward will be brought in this summer. Great for Casey, bad for the Union.

    • Imagine how that conversation would go with Edu: “I know I promised you a role in which you would succeed, that would get you ready for the World Cup. But apparently, I can’t coach very well, so I need you to play CB next to Amobi until your loan is up. Huh? No. Amobi was never gonna be a stud holding midfielder. Moving him to CB saved his career. Same for you.”

  11. Best performance for Lahoud in a Union jersey…perhaps best of his MLS career.

    • The Black Hand says:

      He has put in some valiant, underrated performances. I always liked the dynamic that he brought to the defensive midfield. If anything, he is a very disciplined, reliable player. With all of the Amobi/Carroll/Edu/Noguiera looks, I had completely forgotten about Lahoud. Good player…

      • I think is says something about Hackworth that when the team needed a defensive-minded player to break up the counter he went with Lahoud over Carroll. Lahoud was the better choice, he’s quicker and his ball movement is sharper, but Hack has shown blind loyalty at times during his tenure so far (Cruz being the best example). B.C. no longer fits the style this team needs to play, and the team just looks better when Okugo wears the armband.

  12. Dick Buttlewein says:

    Bakary Soumare has looked great in the games I’ve watched. Why the hell did hack refuse to play him? He is exactly what this team needs! And why exactly was Ethan White not getting in games at one of our affiliates over the first month of the season? Why?
    That said, firing Hack now and replacing him with someone currently on the staff as interim would be dumb. We may as well let this play out. We showed flashes on Saturday!

    • I wondered why Soumare sat the bench too. Short sighted. The guy is a quality defender.

      • Soumare never wanted to play here; he only wanted to play in Chicago. My guess is, Nowak made an under-the-table deal to use our allocation spot to bring Soumare back to MLS, and then flip him to his buddy Klopas in Chicago. But Nowak got fired before the could pull it off, and Hackworth got left holding the bag.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I think that Soumare just wanted to play…anywhere.

    • If the site is looking for post ideas, I’d love to see an informed retrospective of the CB talent that has come and gone for this club, the reasons for the departures, and the aftermath of each.
      In only the most recent few seasons, we’ve seen them be very player friendly in allowing Baky to push a trade (not as friendly in his push for PT), Carlos Valdes go home to make his national team, Jeff Parke to leave for undisclosed reasons to a rival… I get that you need to do that sometimes… but I guess don’t fully get why. The players are under contract, the team needs them and makes short- and long-term plans around them, then acquiesces to their desires and is left with the ghost of Ethan White, the Aaron Wheeler Experiment, 5’8″ Sheanon inside, Fabinho on the field at all, and Okugo playing out of position (I know, I know, we’ve been over that one).
      All of the departures may be understandable in their own right, especially Valdes, but in total, it seems like a ton of talent acquired, squandered, and not replaced. Part of it is probably me just not fully understanding the ways of the MLS only 5 years into following it, but I’m not used to this amount of giving into player desires at significant cost to franchise.

      • and you didn’t even mention Danny Califf…they should all star in their new reality TV show “The Real Centerbacks of Philadelphia”

    • Soumare was not a better CB than Parke or Okugo at the time. Also, he was Nowak’s signing, not Hackworth’s, and Hackworth never wanted to get rid of Califf to clear room for Soumare. And Soumare has a high cap figure. And … the list goes on.

      I like Soumare too, by the way. And yes, he wanted to play.

      • post post post!
        I just think it’d be interesting to see a continuum of all the talent that has passed through that position, given the current situation, but I could be on my own there. Even that explanation is a good one. I dunno, maybe what’s bothering me is how much better this team might be with Okugo-Parke back there for season 2, and the explanation he’s gone is merely “Personal reasons” which could of course be quite serious, but dramatically affected the outcome of this season for the U.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Definitely not better than Parke. Okugo? I think if Hackworth gave him a run, to regain fitness, he would have been head and shoulders above Amobi…literally. Then we could have put Okugo at the CDM, negating the need to spend on Edu, and putting us lightyears ahead of…nevermind!

  13. The Union need to start their next game, with the same lineup that played most of that 2nd half against Whitecaps (that includes Lahoud). They were great at times. My only gripe is Fabinho and Cruz, their talent is very minimal. Fabinho is a liability at the back, getting beat and exposed time and time again.

    However Union were the better team for almost the full 90, every goal the Whitecaps had was against the run of play completely. That fault lies in the defense breaking down obviously but more specifically losing their marks, as we saw on the first goal when Hurtado was left WIDE OPEN between 2 Union defenders for a free header in the box. That’s just basic positioning, that’s all that is. A central defender needs to follow the striker cutting through the middle.

    This game could have easily ended 5 or 6 to 3 in Union’s favor with all of the chances they created. Maidana is a beast, Casey should be taking him out to dinner this week for all of the brilliant balls he put on a platter for him!

    I get some of the other comments, playing a high pressing game can be dangerous, but the Union do not have a defense that can soak up pressure and sit on a 1 goal lead. They have dangerous mid-fielders who can create when given space. Give them that space and hopefully try to make a run at a playoff spot.

    • The question to ask is why were they great. I get your point about the same starting XI to see but then here we are again on the carousel of mixed lineup. I am more inclined to think Whitecaps gave them the space. I do not at all agree that the Union were the better team for 90 minutes. I will give you the 2nd half, again, why is that, but certainly not the whole game.

      • When Lahoud was plugged into the middle as a holding central midfielder, it allowed Noguiera to float with more freedom. Noguiera is a skillfull player, but it is obvious that his weakness is in defending, so that problem was solved. Lahoud’s introduction also allowed Edu more open space in the middle, pushing him up slighlty, and moving Maidana onto the left where he obviously looked comfortable. So yes, that same starting XI should take the field next game because it was effective against a team that was unbeaten in 5 outings coming into that game.

        I say the full 90 because the 2 first half goals were classic counter attacks. That is all that Vancouver did in the 1st half. Union controlled the ball more, took more shots, took more corners (I believe Vancouver had 1 all game, which came in the 2nd half) – so that tells me that one team is taking the game to the other team, but got caught out on the counter twice.

        Casey had some sure chances in the first half too with a few glancing headers. Just because they didn’t manage to get on the board in the first half doesn’t mean they weren’t the better team. Just my opinion though..

  14. Why was Pfeffer playing left rather than more centered? Why was Noguiera playing so deep to start? Why was Cruz playing? Where are the two players received in for starters (Wenger & White) & the player apparently signed to replace one (Berry)? Gameplan, tactics & personnel decisions remain questionable at best & inexplicable at worst. The rest of the season would be better spent evaluating talent – in their natural position – for the future than straining for a 1st round playoff exit. So look for Fred starting against NE.

  15. Now 12:38pm. Thank you Sak.
    Sorry John. You’re a nice guy and I wish you the best of luck.

    Couldn’t be any happier for Jim Curtin: a Glenside guy, McDevitt guy, CR Dynamo guy, Nova guy, MLS Champ, former Union Youth Coach. He’s a Philly Guy. It’s probably a no-win situation for him, but hopefully we can see some positives for all.
    Sorry to STHs, but at least it’s a sign of progress.

    And, Hey, Curtain is the same generation as the Petkes & Heaps and followed similar paths as Kreis and Vermes.
    Here’s to looking forward to the rest of the season. DOOP!

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