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Union win ugly in USOC over Harrisburg, US World Cup news, more

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

Fans who attended Tuesday night’s US Open Cup match — and if I didn’t say hello to you personally, I apologize — hoping to see an inspired performance from a Union team playing for the first time under interim head coach Jim Curtin will have left PPL Park disappointed even if they were happy with the final result.

As Curtin said after the game, “We were a little rusty, sloppy, but my guys fought hard in the end, they could have laid down but they didn’t, they kept pushing and got the goals.”

After going down a goal to a depleted Harrisburg City Islanders side that, between ineligible Union loanees and injuries was missing seven starters from its last league game and had only three field players on the bench, the Union finally equalized in the 89th minute thanks to a goal from center back Maurice Edu. Goals from Andrew Wenger in the 110th and 117th minute finally granted the Union the 3-1 win.

In between was as frustrating a display from the Union as has ever been seen at PPL Park.

Curtin said, “A lot of times, these games wind up looking like this. It is not the way you draw it up. You can warn the group as much as possible, but these games are always fights. I would like to give credit to Harrisburg, who was very undermanned tonight. They were missing a lot of players and put up a good fight. They had us on the ropes, to be honest. They had us frustrated. Fortunately, we were able to push it in during extra time and wear them out.”

He added, “The key in these games is to score the first goal and make them actually have to come out and play us. To [Harrisburg’s] credit they sat behind the ball and they were hard to break down, and we didn’t have the quality to break them down.”

Wenger said after the game, “Good for me to finally break a little bit of a drought. Good for us to dig ourselves out of that and move forward, that’s the most important thing. Defensively we played pretty well tonight and we were lucky to get a lucky chance in a sense, but we kept pressing and we figured it out.”

Harrisburg City Islanders head coach Bill Becher said after the game,

We fought, we did everything we could to get the result and unfortunately it didn’t go our way. We are proud of the effort we put in, we fought for 120 minutes, and we were very short handed with only three subs available.  You look at the lineup we had out there [Saturday] and we had seven guys that were unavailable. Seven starters. So we played with four starters and guys that haven’t been getting as many minutes. We were dealt a difficult hand coming into this, but I think we showed that we have some depth, some heart and some character. We gave them everything they wanted. And it’s hard to say we didn’t deserve to win the game.

While it might be a stretch to say Harrisburg deserved to win the game, City Islanders goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre put in an inspired performance, making ten saves in the course of 120 minutes of play, nine beginning from the start of the second half. Said Curtin of Sylvestre’s play,

He was very good. When you walk out through the tunnel and you look at the kid — and I look up to him — he’s a big boy. And he made some saves. Sometimes guys that size aren’t as nimble and he was pretty quick to get to some things tonight that were special. We took note. Obviously he had a very good day. It’s an affiliate, so you keep an eye on these guys. He had a great game.

Receiving his first start between the posts in a competitive game for the Union was Andre Blake, who also had a good game. Curtin said,

We saw this as a game of consequence. I could throw him in the game tomorrow against Reading when it’s a friendly, and it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have a good result. But he played in a game that’s an elimination game, to get that under his belt back home in front of our fans, I think that was important. He made some big saves at the end where you start to see some of the quality and how special he can be as a goalkeeper. He’s a guy that, now he has a game under his belt, you start to see confidence, it’s a first step for him. Do I wish he held the first one on the header? Yes, I do, I’m going to hold to high standards, he’s a great player. Great starting point for Andre, he’s 1 and 0.

With the win, the Union now host the New York Cosmos on Tuesday, June 24 at 7 pm. The club must be banking on the Cosmos being an attendance draw because the game isn’t included in the season ticket package. The club announced after the game that season ticket holders can purchase tickets for $10, while tickets are available to non season ticket holders for $20 (Chester residents can purchase tickets for $10 on game day with valid ID), $30 for premium seating.

Match reports from PSP, Philadelphia Union, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, Delco Times, CSN Philly, Philly Soccer News, Penn Live, US Soccer, TheCup.us, MLSsoccer.com (1), MLSsoccer (2), Soccerly, and USL PRO.

Also here at PSP, video of Curtin’s postgame press conference and a postgame quote sheet.

So, can we expect to see Edu again at center back? Edu said after the game, “[Curtin] said for a couple games and we’ll see how it goes. Regardless of where I’m playing I am just trying to help the team win.”

After the game, Sheanon Williams said of the firing of John Hackworth, “Hack’s been here since the team started and I’ve known Hack since my [U-17] residency days. He’s a big part of why I’m here. Obviously as a team, we let him down. We take that responsibility and move forward. We weren’t good enough and we didn’t do what we were supposed to do or are capable of doing. That’s what happens in pro sports.”

The Union are on the road tonight to face PDL affiliate Reading United. The annual friendly kicks off at 7 pm at Wilson High School’s Gurski Stadium.

The MLS Players Union has issued a statement in response to Peter Nowak’s lawsuit against the players union and the league. Players union executive director Bob Foose said in a statement, “It is unfortunate and sad that Peter Nowak has chosen to sue the Players Union. His lawsuit is frivolous, and we will defend ourselves and our members aggressively against his baseless allegations.”

Players union executive board member Jeff Larentowicz said, “The Players Union is the players’ organization. By suing it, Peter Nowak has essentially sued every player in the league. When players have concerns with any coach or anyone else from team or league management, we will take necessary action through our union. The idea that by doing so, the Players Union somehow violated the law is ridiculous.”

US

Along with an anxious wait for the USA”s second group game when they take on Portugal on Sunday, there is the anxious wait for the status of Jozy Altidore and Matt Besler, both of whom left Monday’s win over Ghana early with hamstring injuries.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday after the team arrived back in their base camp in Sao Paulo, Klinsmann said Besler is good to start on Sunday. He remains hopeful about Altidore.

With Jozy, we’ve got to see now how he reacts the next couple of days with his hamstring. We are full of hope that he comes back still in this tournament. That’s what we’re going to work on every day. The medical staff is doing a tremendous job for weeks, so we still have to hope that Jozy will be back. How quickly? That is down to his healing process.

Obviously it’s a bummer for all of us with Jozy, but we’ll make the best out it. We’re going to get him back in this tournament.

Klinsman said he was unsure if Clint Dempsey, who suffered a broken nose after being kicked in the face on Monday, will wear a protective mask. “I don’t know how much a mask can protect him. Whatever he feels good with. It was a broken nose, yes. It was tricky during the game. He barely could breath. He struggled with that. But once it’s broken, it’s broken. It will take time to heal completely.”

At the Sports Doc blog at Philly.com is a discussion of what the injuries might entail in terms of recovery time.

Portugal have injury problems of their own. The Portuguese federation confirmed on Tuesday that left fullback Fábio Coentrão is out of the tournament with a thigh injury.

Klinsmann is even more wary of Portugal following their 4-0 loss to Germany, describing them as “an even more dangerous team than before.” He explained, “When you get that 4-0 result from Germany, now you’re going to come into Manaus pretty angry. And I don’t know how Cristiano Ronaldo behaves when he’s angry.”

If Altidore is unavailable for Sunday, ProSoccerTalk makes the case for Aron Johannsson starting and for Chris Wondolowski starting.

ASN highlights Jermaine Jones’ performance against Ghana.

At ESPN, Jeff Carlisle on Jurgen Klinsmann the gambler.

At SI, Liviu Bird says “Poor touches and decisions permeated the match” against Ghana.

Nearly 16 million people watched the US game against Ghana on Monday. More on the ratings at SI, Forbes, Bloomberg, and from Reuters.

Clint Dempsey’s new rap album is due out “in the months ahead.” Says album executive producer Mike Chehadé,”[B]ecause he’s a soccer player…people automatically expect it to not be good. I’m not saying he’s Eminem, but he’s definitely qualified.”

Local

The Inquirer on how local bars and restaurants are capitalizing on interest in the Word Cup.

MLS

In Tuesday night’s US Open Cup play, a 1-0 loss sees defending champions DC United eliminated by USL PRO side Rochester Rhinos. The Union weren’t the only MLS team that needed extra time to win as the Crew, down to nine players, defeated NASL side Indy Eleven 2-1 with a 114th minute penalty kick. Dallas defeated NASL side San Antonio Scorpions 2-0. Colorado defeated Orlando City 5-2. Portland topped PDL side Orlando City U-23s, 3-0.

MLS president Mark Abbott says the league isn’t interested in the Marlins Park location some Miami politicians are touting as a possible spot for the David Beckham franchise. “No — we’re not considering that location,” Abbott said. “Our strong belief is that, to be successful, it needs to be downtown.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/06/16/4182429/mls-doesnt-like-land-next-to-marlins.html#storylink=cpy

NWSL

Western New York host Chicago tonight (7 pm, NSCAA Live, YouTube).

Elsewhere

Look for our recap of Tuesday’s World Cup games later this morning.

Reuters reports, “At least 13 people including young children were killed when a bomb tore through a venue in northeast Nigeria where fans had gathered to watch a World Cup soccer match.” Agence France-Presse and the BBC put the death toll at at least 21 people.

9 Comments

  1. Thoughts on the Harrisburg game:
    1) Langley was very good. Not sure if his finishing is MLS caliber, but his pace and control was better than our current forwards.
    2) Sylvestre (GK) was a beast. He looks like Rickett’s bigger brother. He had two back to back saves that were better than any I’ve seen in MLS this year. Too bad we wasted our #1 draft pick when we had this guy down the street. Looked more convincing than Blake (although Blake wasn’t tested to be honest. CALL HIM UP NOW, JIM!!
    3) Harrisburg parked the bus after their goal. We created a lot of chances that went begging, but there wasn’t much space to work with.
    4) Nogueira looked really disinterested last night. Also pulled up with what looked like a groin strain. Both not good.
    5) Sons of Ben were hilarious last night. More entertaining than the game itself during large stretches.

    • #3 was the key to the game last night, for me. The Union could not control possession once they crossed midfield. Yes they had the ball for stretches, but instead of use short, simple passes to pull the defense apart and tire them out, they tried 1 or 2 then either turned the ball over or heaved a terrible cross in. Regardless of the personnel deployed or the league record, this should’ve been a game where the Union comes in and controls the tempo, presses and forces Harrisburg into making mistakes. I saw very little of that, and in a stand-alone game with league games 10 days before and after, they should’ve came in and played Harrisburg better. Not a good sign moving forward.

    • Sylvestre definitely looked good. Any MLS team that ends up in a desperate situation should be giving him a call.
      .
      SoB and the Harrisburg “group” were funny to listen to. “All we are saying, is put on your shirts!” Good stuff, and helps make the games fun.

  2. Did they announce attendance for this match? I’m curious what size crowd showed up.

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    I agree with the idea of Nogs looking disinterested, especially last night. I’m getting very worried about his future here with the club.

  4. Southside Johnny says:

    OMG. Wenger thinks they are “moving forward”. This speaks volumes.

  5. Southside Johnny says:

    Calling this an “ugly win” is an incredibly charitable understatement.

  6. I’m assuming players union executive board member Jeff Larentowicz also plays for the Chicago Fire. Pretty cool that he’s involved with the players union. . . .

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