Player ratings

Analysis and Player Ratings: Union 1-3 Sounders (AET)

Photo: Earl Gardner

It would be hard to say that a better match has been played at PPL Park.

While that is a tad heart-breaking given the eventual result, Union fans should not be short on pride given the performance their team turned in against one of MLS’ elite programs. Are the Union all the way there yet? Ready to compete with the likes of Seattle, LA and RSL on a weekly basis? No, probably not. Depth issues linger in a major way, but this match gave a clear indication of just how well the Union’s starting XI stacks up against a top team in the league.

The Okugo Decision

And the Union could have been even stronger if Jim Curtin hadn’t overturned the apple cart in an effort to fix something that wasn’t broken. In the lead up to the match, the goalkeeper selection seemed to play most frequently on the minds of fans and members of the media, but when Zac MacMath was announced in the starting lineup, it was Amobi Okugo’s absence that proved the most surprising omission.

During Curtin’s rebuilding of the Union, Okugo has slowly grown back into his preferred role, after moving into defense under John Hackworth. In Okugo, Curtin has found a willing ball-winner with excellent defensive range. But what has been just as important is the young midfielder’s deferential play. At the defensive midfield role, Okugo does his job quickly and efficiently, using the minimum number of touches possible to move the ball on to his playmakers, Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira, and his advancing fullbacks, Ray Gaddis and Sheanon Williams. The quality of his play keeps the Union humming along smoothly, and Okugo’s comfort in the backline means that whenever the likes of Maurice Edu or Carlos Valdes go on walkabout, he stays home, providing the ideal cover.

By swapping him for Edu, a player who was looking to prove himself higher up the pitch, Curtin removed that safety net from in front of the back four. And get forward is what Maurice Edu did. Pushing higher up the field than he has the past, Edu more closely resembled the midfielder John Hackworth probably had been hoping for earlier in the season, someone to shuttle the ball forward and push play up the field. What Hackworth got was a full time defensive midfielder, something he didn’t need, given Brian Carroll’s existence in the same midfield. What Curtin got was something different entirely, with Edu taking on a portion of Nogueira’s responsibilities, sharing the shuttling duties and taking turns making runs forward into the attacking third, even if that led to a few more misplaced passes and a change in team shape.

Does flipping the triangle matter?

Casey’ pass chart vs Seattle

With Okugo playing alongside Maidana and Nogueira, Curtin could nearly call his formation a 4-1-4-1 considering how reliably the fifth year man holds down the fort. Okugo provides Nogueira the full freedom to operate anywhere on the pitch (Carroll even got that freedom when he was twice paired with Okugo of late). Swap Edu into the mix, and his desire to be on the ball means dropping Nogueira back into something resembling the double pivot system that has proved so complicated to master.

So, with Edu turning the midfield from a 1-2 to a 2-1, Curtin effectively flipped the triangle. Does that matter?

In a short answer? Yes.

The long answer? First, it limits Nogueira’s freedom, making the Frenchman play extra defense and maintain a more consistent shape. While he is capable of both, Union fans would probably prefer he not be required to do so.

Secondly, it means more bodies in the center of the pitch in the attacking half. Good thing, right? Well, perhaps not. Conor Casey has defied age, injuries, his critics (and at certain times, logic) to remain not only a physical presence in MLS, but also an efficient goalscorer, tallying just under one goal every 1.5 matches this season. He has done that by understanding his body and adapting his skill set. No longer can Casey fight center backs like Chad Marshall for 90 minutes. Instead, he is happy to drop off, winning headers and holding up play high in the midfield, forcing defenders to break formation to chase him, and bringing in his teammates, all while waiting for the cavalry to arrive. Once the Union arrive in numbers, Casey can then turn on his heel and charge into the box, making the one, lethal run he needs to grab his goal.

The problem with having another midfielder moving high into the center of the pitch — in this case, Edu — is that it takes away Casey’s release valve. Not only is another one of his teammates occupying the space he wants, but it also brings a defensive midfielder straight to him. A quick look at his pass chart against Seattle shows Casey having to drop too deep, or slide too wide, to make an impact. Additionally, Osvaldo Alonso’s defensive range meant that Marshall had no qualms with leaving the feisty midfielder to look after the space occupied by both Edu and Casey, meaning that the big man’s movement off the ball didn’t even serve to stretch the centerbacks out of their natural shape.

Build around Nogueira and Maidana

With the Union having lacked creative fluidity for the majority of their first four years, it is nothing short of astounding to revel in the quality that both Nogueira and Maidana have brought to the Union midfield. In the duo, Hackworth/Vartughian/Sakiewicz/whoever not only acquired a legitimate top-tier MLS playmaker, but also a deep-lying playmaker who can take over the midfield and dictate play from anywhere on the pitch. These are the players to build around. 26 and 27 years old respectively, the duo will only improve with more playing time together, not to mention a proper offseason of rest and preseason to insure the full health of both going forward. Getting them the ball and allowing them to operate freely should be the Union coaching staff’s nNo. 1 concern, which is why Curtin would do well to plug Okugo back into the midfield for Houston on Saturday and the remainder of the Union’s fixtures as they chase a playoff spot. His sharp decision-making and quick distribution are the ideal compliment to the Union’s chief playmakers.

Plus, while the decision making in the midfield is the more interesting discussion topic, it is important to briefly turn a thought to the polish and composure Edu showed in the backline, as compared to the nervy, undistinguished performances from both Ethan White and Carlos Valdes. They need his leadership now more than ever. And playing from the back, he has an awful lot to give.

Player Ratings

Zac MacMath – 5

Plucking the ball out of the back of your own net three times rarely make for a good night for a goalkeeper, but MacMath showed his poise and can only really accept a share of the blame for coming out too soon on Martins’ insurance tally. Plenty of folks will see the replay of him start to come and stop on Seattle’s opener, but considering Chad Marshall was marked on the play by Carlos Valdes, Ethan White, AND Maurice Edu, it would be awfully harsh to blame the keeper for their collective failure to make a play. Gave his team an enormous confidence boost when he stoned Martins at the beginning of the first extra time period, but will have to accept a loss in what may one of his last appearances in a Union shirt.

Sheanon Williams – 6

Gave a strong account of himself, matching up well with Lamar Neagle throughout, while still getting forward to assist in the attack. Williams has wiped away almost all memories of his early season crossing struggles, as he twice played in Wenger, though the Union wide man failed to get either effort on target.

Ethan White – 4

Should be thankful for the selection of referee, considering that most MLS officials would not have been so forgiving of White’s overly physical play as he clutched, grabbed, and kicked Dempsey, Barrett, Neagle and Martins for 120 minutes on Tuesday. This leniency allowed him to play higher up the pitch, which was required given Edu’s own high positioning. When he managed to latch onto attackers, White did well to hold his ground and break up play, but he struggled to keep tabs on the Sounders’ mercurial attackers more often than Union fans would have preferred. Too easily caught in possession twice by Martins, White still needs to find a better balance between safe, fly-hacked clearances and overdribbling out of the back.

Carlos Valdes – 4

Whether or not it was down to the injury he suffered in the 15th minute, Valdes looked out of sorts, and lacking in mobility, for most of the 120 minutes on Tuesday. Since returning to the Union following the World Cup, Valdes has yet to find peak form and continued his struggles against the Sounders. Whether it was his misdirected header that led to Seattle’s equalizer, his lack of closing pace, or a series of aimless boots forward, Valdes needs to recover his pre-World Cup form if he is to help the Union secure a playoff spot.

Ray Gaddis – 7

In the much-ballyhooed showdown of the lightning quick fullbacks, Gaddis got the better of DeAndre Yedlin, as he picked a great day to find his feet after a dour much in which he had been well below his best. But despite showing maximum effort to keep Seattle at bay, it was one mistake from the young fullback that led directly to Dempsey’s gamewinner. Matched up on the US captain when he made his initial entry pass to Martins, Gaddis followed the ball, not the man, breaking off towards Martins. Seeing that the Nigerian was already being looked after by both Williams and White it was already too late to recover, with Dempsey having a free run in on goal. For Gaddis to continue his ascent towards consideration as one of the best fullbacks in MLS, he must continue to improve on his awareness and reading of the game, pairing it with his already elite athleticism.

Maurice Edu – 6

Wearing the captain’s armband on the night, Edu slid back into the midfield, where his performance was a mixed bag. From the early moments of the match, when he got his signals crossed with his attacking teammates, it was clear that Edu wanted to get forward to help the Union create offense. Did well to lead the team from the front, especially when he opened the scoring (something he would have done just as easily as a centerback), but after weeks of watching Amobi Okugo lay down a blanket of protection in front of the back four, it was a surprising change to see Edu push forward so frequently, vacating the territory in which Dempsey and Martins typically begin their most dangerous attacks. It doesn’t make for good viewing to watch footage of Dempsey and Martins driving play forward for the eventual winner while Edu jogs back, leaving his man, Andy Rose, to accelerate into the play before Edu is inevitably too far behind the play to remain in frame.

Vincent Nogueira – 8

The engine that made the whole thing go for Philadelphia, Nogueira was back to his early season best, as he covered an immense amount of ground for the Union. Provided support, a quick outlet for all of his teammates, and showed the aggression to attack Seattle on the dribble. Demanded multiple defenders, freeing up the extra space Maidana needed to operate. After doing all the hard work, Nogueira was desperately unlucky not to score the winner when his leaping volley beat Frei, but not the post. It was just another smart maneuver from Nogueira, recognizing that if he waited for the ball to land, Frei would have time to cut down the angle. But, in that moment, it just missed coming off.

Sebastien Le Toux – 5

Perhaps the Union’s most in-form player over the past couple months, Le Toux was the most dramatically affected by Villarreal’s apparent “no fracture, no foul” policy. Slow and heavy-footed at the best of times, Leo Gonzalez used this leniency to clutch, grab, and kick out at the Union attacker, though given the stage, Union fans would probably have expected his conduct not to get in Le Toux’s head the way it did.

Cristian Maidana – 6

Struggled through a nervy, sputtering start before turning on the style and showing his quality as the Union went toe to toe with Seattle. But while his set piece delivery remains a sight to behold, Maidana was never able to muster the same quality with his final ball from open play. Well, except for his exquisite chip in to Nogueira.

Andrew Wenger – 6

Blew incredibly hot and cold, as one moment he was leaving Yedlin in his dust and the next he struggled with simple touches, dribbling out of bounds and misjudging the weight of his passes. It was much more good than bad, however, and had penalties not been a potential outcome, it is fair to wonder if Danny Cruz might not have replaced Le Toux instead.

Conor Casey – 4

Overpowered and outmatched by Chad Marshall, Casey grew frustrated, reverting to cheap fouling and incessant referee-badgering before being hauled off. While Casey had a case that Villarreal was forcing him to endure too much rough treatment, the big striker gave as good as he got. He simply didn’t appear to have his legs under him on the night.


Pedro Ribeiro – 6

Didn’t look out of place in the final and gave a tired Marshall all he could handle as the Union pressed for a winner late in regulation. Probably wishes he had could have another go at trying to finish off Gaddis’ deflected shot, as he just couldn’t get enough mustard on the spinning ball, despite being on his dominant, left foot.

Danny Cruz – 4

Too quiet given the circumstances, Cruz tried his best to run at Yedlin but failed to involve himself enough in the rest of the match.

Fred – 5

Entered the field with energy and nearly fired a shot on target with his first touch, but was otherwise pretty quiet and unable to affect the momentum or outcome of the match.

Geiger Counter

Armando Villarreal – 3

As erratic and inconsistent as ever, Villarreal’s desire to “let the players play” led him to miss a large number of fouls, many of a serious nature, all over the pitch. Fortunately, his performance did not affect the final outcome of the match, but that is only because he didn’t have any big decisions to make in or around the penalty area. Perhaps in time, the 28-year-old, third-year official will prove his big game merits, but on Tuesday night he demonstrated that he is not yet of the quality required for such a tense, competitive environment.

Preferred Starting XI for Saturday’s home match vs Houston Dynamo


MacMath; Williams, Edu, Valdes, Gaddis; Okugo, Nogueiral; Le Toux, Maidana, Wenger; Casey


  1. Leaving Okugo out is Nowak-esque. You can quote me about positions and Edu and htis and that all you want. But the bottom line is Okugo is obviously one of our 14 best players – and the fact he didnt get on the field is a joke.

    • I don’t think this was nearly as obvious as it seems. Right now the Union have 6 if form quality midfielders (Okugo, Edu, Nogueira, Maidana, Le Toux, and Wenger) fighting for 5 spots. So the options are to either sit one or make one play out of position. You’re probably not going to sit Wenger or Le Toux since they are the two who play wide rather than in the middle. Before Valdes came back it usually consisted of playing Edu in the back with White. Don’t forget, we’ve been clamoring to have center backs play center back which is exactly what Curtin did.
      Hindsight says that going back to Edu and White probably would have been the best thing for the Union but I think all of us expected Valdes to have a better game than he did.
      With the team healthy, Curtin had a VERY tough call to make and he made a decision. Maybe not the one everyone else would make, put certainly not an unreasonable one, especially considering that Okugo and Wenger were the only two of that group who played 90 minutes in the midfield on Saturday. (Edu was a defender that day.)
      Although it didn’t work out with the optimal result (and who’s to say that any decision would have), it certainly isn’t comparable to starting Migs as a 5th defender in a playoff game or sending Le Toux to Vancouver for allocation money.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        The one issue I take with your commentary, which is otherwise well-reasoned, is that you are treating it as if we are in a vacuum where Edu hasn’t been the Union’s best centerback over the last many weeks. He has been the captain of the backline, cleaning up messes and controlling a strong defense. He is an in-form player, but as a defender, not a midfielder.

      • I agree with Eli on this one. The one benefit of having Okugo on the bench is that you can bring him in late and he can really prove useful controlling the midfield with fresh legs. I was shocked when he didn’t enter at the start of extra time. With Martins and Pappa relatively fresh, and the dangerous Dempsey out there, I feel the best approach would’ve been Okugo to keep control of the midfield for the extra 30.

      • I agree that Edu has been the best defender for the Union too. I’m just saying that the group has been collectively clamoring for players whose “natural” position is CB to play there rather than converted midfielders. The problem is that in order for that to happen something has to give in the midfield.
        I can also say that the first thing I said to the people who sit in front of me that missed warmups was that Okugo warmed up with the subs and I didn’t agree with the decision.

      • Thank you! If Edu is a good enough CB for USMNT how is not good enough for a Union cup game? Curtin is no Klinsman obviously.

      • The only benefit of the embarrassment of riches in the Union mid-field is to confuse the opposing coach for the first half… and of course that’s exactly what happened. Sigi asks himself “Where is Okugo”? How can we keep him out of the game… Oh score on these offensive minded mid-fielders and they’ll never put him in… and that’s what he does with the benefit of a half time talk with the players and good substitutions. My question is with Macmath as good as he is at blocking PKs how are we going out there with a balls to the wall offensive midfield against the likes of Seattle? We should play for the draw, using Okugo to calm the center of the pitch, and play for the PKs at the end… Curtin/FO are foolish and exposed in this game.

  2. It was a great experience my friends and family will not forget. If getting to and from the stadium were a tad easier, I would love to get season tickets. This was my fourth bad experience entering or exiting. That’s my only complaint. The staff, players, stadium and friendly, knowledgeable fans made the evening great. What a great event. Don’t hang your heads AND LOCK UP NOGS. He made some pivots that defied physics.

    Finally, said it before, and I will say it again. I’m not sure anyone in MLS can handle Martins 1v1.

    • As a season ticket holder, I completely agree. I really would love to see them figure out some better way to handle traffic flow. In one of the other threads, somebody mentioned that the inbound traffic was messed up by a freight train. That just can’t happen. And they need to find better access to 291. traffic is never going to be great because of the location, but it’s a real issue that they need to work on.

      • I crossed the tracks a few minutes before the train, & waited another 15 minutes to get into lot B. It wasn’t the train’s fault, it was the slow as molasses lot attendants. I had my season ticket card & exact change prepped when I pulled up. They didn’t need to write anything down or even give me a parking pass, so I basically threw my money at them & drove off. The whole exchange took maybe 10 seconds, so I’m at a loss to explain why I sat in line and watched them spend several minutes with each car. So frustrating, & considering the importance of that match, it really makes the organization look bad.

    • I have to be honest and say that prior to Tuesday, I’ve never had an issue getting into the lots. If you are thinking of getting seasons tickets, do it and get a parking pass in lot A which is just east of the bridge. Except for this past Tuesday, I’ve never had an issue getting in. After the game it usually takes about 5 minutes to get from the lot to 291 which is certainly reasonable. (Tuesday it actually took less time getting out than normal. I think some people had left already while others stayed for the presentation. We bolted right after the final whistle.)
      I think part of the problem Tuesday night was that there were a lot of people who don’t go to a lot of games so they weren’t always sure where they were going. Plus the fact that it was a week night meant you had fewer people tailgating for several hours before the game.

      • I agree – Tuesday was the first time I’ve ever had trouble getting in. I regularly have trouble getting out, though. Including several games this year where I was forced by Chester PD to go somewhere other than making a right onto 291 so I could access the ramp to 95. Once I was made to go straight, make a left on 9th Street, and take that down to Highland. Another I was made to turn left onto 291, down to Highland.

      • Same here, this was the first time I had problems getting to the game so I ended up parking on a private lot on the corner of Flower and 291. As for leaving the stadium from Lot B, it did improve this year with opening of direct exit to Engle St but got worse again when Lot B was moved. Bottom line is that there has to be a better way let the traffic out of the stadium…

  3. Wow I really thought Sheanon was our weak link on defense. After 30 minutes he had nothing to offer- no ability to get a cross off, but constantly stuck up field. This was compounded by White playing too high- as is noted here, and Valdes having a poor match also.
    Okugo in for Valdes after his 15′ knock or at least the half might have stabilized the back line more.
    Gotta give credit to Seattle, but aside from Gaddis, defense was very poor.

    • A less than average performance by him. Well said. Course that all would have been for nought had he put home the fast moving sitter in front of the net on the corner than I screamed #uck in front of my children over while pulling on my hair.

    • Totally agree with your comments on Williams. I thought that he had a very poor match. He seemed very nervous while in possession and slipped several times while defending/clearing a ball. It was one of his worst performances in several weeks,

      While I would have much preferred to see Okugo out there as he clearly makes us a better team, I think that White has been criticized unfairly. He made some very important clearances and had a much stronger match than Valdes did. I know that he had to mark Marshall on set pieces which is a tough ask for anyone on the Union, but I thought his performance was worthy of a 6-7 rather than the 4 that Eli gave him.

      Wenger’s importance to our attack showed when he finally came out. He was manhandling Yedlin and once Yedlin was freed of that responsibility, he was able to play his typical game and made some important plays.

  4. Eli. I really appreciate your lead in this story about the Okugo omission. Anyone who reads know how I feel about the player, (with a narrative to support it) but you have put in words, quite succinctly, the absolute imperative of him being on the field and how Jim Curtain came to the decision to bench him is really troubling for me.
    Okugo is a DEFENSE first defensive midfielder deep lying playmaker who at least once or twice a game threads a through ball or lobs a diagonal ball perfectly into space all the while shutting down the best offensive threats in the league. He is a quick thinker and wicked one touch distributor of the ball always making the right choice. He is an absolute stud of a footballer- european mode. Maurice Edu wants to push up the field and this tendency by him left us unnecessarily exposed at crucial junctures in the game particularly in the later portions of the game when legs were fatiguing, when Valdez clearly did not have the range- causing the defense to lose shape and Edu to not be doing what his primary responsibility was which was a destroyer. Edu played well, the way he wanted to play, I do not argue- but he did not play properly at important spots for what was in front of this team- an improving Sounders as the game wore on. People have written that Amobi’s omission did not change the outcome of the game and I could not agree less. His omission sealed the Union fate as they walked from the tunnel.

    • So if Nogueira’s shot had been 6 inches to the right and gone in, Seattle would have found a way to score during stoppage time?

      • There are any number of permutations that could have changed the outcome of the game. My point is that even if Okugo doesn’t start, which clearly I think is dead wrong, he certainly should have been put in as the game wore on and Marco Pappa came in and then Martins- because they were having their way.
        It is funny how everyone seems to think that JC is responsible for this turn around in the team and he is to a degree- but as GerNel and Kiri mention on another spot, maybe it has as much to do with JC putting Okugo back to his position of DM and the flow the team has created all the while yielding fewer goals.
        Curtain sealed their fate in this decision. There way NO way they were going to beat the best team in the league with their ‘best’ player sitting on the bench.

      • I agree that Okugo should have been playing but I don’t agree that Philadelphia losing the game was such a foregone conclusion without him. Philadelphia could have and probably should have won in regulation time and the reason they didn’t was that they were a little unlucky

      • There is no such thing as unlucky. Why is it when something goes wrong people say unlucky? Noguiera missed. Ribero missed. Williams missed. Dempsey missed 2 sitters. There is no luck in this game unless you are an Englishman convincing yourself there is.

      • This. Okugo HAS to start in this game. If MacMath “deserved” the start then certainly Okugo did too. As the remaining Union original he should have been in our first final. I get having to rotate the squad and rest some players with 3 games in 8 days but it should not have been Okugo. At the very least he should have been one of our subs.

    • Okugo is a great player, no argument there and has put in some interesting shifts at DM. I do not think however it was a deciding factor in the loss as this article and some comments state.

      What I think sealed the Union’s fate was Seattle’s early second half goal in which the Union’s defense displayed a series of silly mistakes, from Valde’s header to the lack of reaction to Nogueira’s almost pass to Seattle’s header (I’d take a point off Nogueira’s score for that poor clearance by the way). A good clearance in that play would have meant 1-0 at the end of 90 minutes and the trophy at home.

      The Union came out really flat in the second half and that early goeal shock them at the start of that period. And they had no legs left for extra time. No way to compete against one of the best attacking duos in MLS in Dempsey and Martins.

      If this match showed anything, it is not a bad coaching decision, but rather the lack of options the team has for for strickers that can finish. I hope the team looks into that and gets some good aquisitions in that department for next year.

  5. One thing I have yet to find an answer to yet – was Curtin ever asked why MacMath started?

    I’ll stick by my word that playing him in the biggest match for the U ever was a huge mistake.

    • I haven’t seen an answer from Curtin on that, but I suspect it would be along the lines of, “MacMath single-handedly won us the previous biggest match for the U ever.” Which is good enough for me.

      • In presser before NYRB JC expressed preference for players who trained. And Zac played. Rais hasn’t trained with the team for weeks. Not the match for your GK & back line to become better acquainted. Rais will get his chances in the playoffs.

  6. Would’ve liked to see Okugo in for White or Valdes and move Mo back. Counterattack & take it to PK shoot out. But make it harder on Martins & Dempsey the rest of the match. Eli nicely puts together the benching & its ripples for the keys to our scoring success of late. JC tried a bit too hard this time. Edu wears the band for good reason, but I don’t see him back next year for this very reason. It’s done. Back to the playoff hunt. And the lineup that got results against TFC.

  7. The Black Hand says:

    Spot on, Eli!

  8. XI for XI the Union are as good as anyone in the league, perhaps more so if Okugo is at D-Mid and Edu (for now) is the other CB. The depth, while better than past years, is not championship-caliber like the Sounders. In the playoffs, however, if you can win one 90-minute game you likely avoid the threat of playing a 120-minute game, and that could be the difference between moving on or going home. After Tuesday night no other team in MLS scares me in a 90-minute game. Playing the Cup final in Seattle is a different story though.
    Tuesday night was awesome. My heart was racing the entire game. For the first time in awhile it felt like every single person in that stadium knew the role they had to play to help the team win. I have never been more proud to be a fan of this club.

  9. Tuesday’s performance from Edu was another disappointing performance in midfield. Too casual on the ball, not strong enough in physical battles, and simply not earning his DP money. I also don’t think he should be wearing the armband. Everyone in the stadium saw Casey’s yellow card coming a mile away; frustrated and angry, he chased down Alonso, whacked him across the face, and pushed him down. There was ample opportunity before this incident for Edu, as captain, to collar Casey and get him singing off the right song sheet. Not once did I see Edu step up and lead this team. For all Brian Carroll’s faults as a player, he effectively manages the team on the field. A captain needs to do that. It matters.

  10. Cruz 3: should have pulled the trigger when he was free in the box and could have shot.
    Maidana: should have used his body better to stay between the ball and defenders on the break away; should have at least caused a penalty.
    Nogueira: great work in midfield but should have had more attacking runs (like he had when he almost scored).
    All in all the team was fine. Just needed a bit more luck and the ball would have gone in and we would have won in regulation time. We had plenty of opportunities.

  11. Some are arguing that Okugo sitting on bench did not ultimately affect outcome of game yet some of the same people and others are arguing that if they were more lucky, they would have won the game. This talk of Luck. No place in this game of soccer/futbol/football and really rather head scratching to me. Luck over Okugo. Silly argument.

    • I’ll respectfully disagree. I do agree with you that whether or not Nog’s shot went in wasn’t luck. But is New York going to get lucky that they are playing Seattle when Seattle might be due for a letdown after Tuesday? How about Houston getting to play Philly 3 times this season with Philly being on short rest all 3 times, with 2 of those being 120 minute games midweek?
      There’s frequently luck that a ref happens to see something as a penalty where if he had been standing a foot away, he would have seen it differently or been screened.
      I agree Okugo would have improved their chances of winning, but I don’t think it would have guaranteed it, nor do I think they had no shot without him.

      • No worries sir. I am speaking not of the luck of a good schedule draw I am speaking of the luck of the play of the game. I did also write that a referee could render luck for one side or the other below. My argument is with the people who think Noguiera not scoring was unlucky and that then had something to do with the outcome of the game. From that point of logic Seattle was then just as unlucky for how the ball came off Dempsey’s foot twice — which is why it’s a hollow argument. I am steadfast in my position that the argument of unlucky over Okugo is silly. This is fun. You and I would measure well in a debate.

      • Joel, luck is a huge factor in the FA Competition, this competition and the MLS play-off’s; is essence in all knockout competitions. Big discussion about this yesterday morning during Over-The-Ball on SiriusXM.

      • I have no doubt I am in the minority with this line of thinking. If we are talking scheduling sure I cannot argue the fortune of a favorable schedule. If we are talking outcomes of balls hitting crossbars or errant passes and the terms, “that’s unlucky”- which is the context I have seen thrown around on these latest blogs, by the culture of thinking that luck matters within the governing dynamics of game play– than I will argue ad infinitum. There is no luck in the game. Only what is.

  12. guy kicks the ball and it hits the crossbar. ‘Oh unlucky.’ No you kicked the ball and it hit the crossbar- physics, spin rate, geometry determine whether it goes over the line or not. There is no luck in the language of mathematics and science.
    a referee, now he could provide that ‘fortune’ we speak of- maybe a little in the decisions he makes as they affect the outcome of a game- the unbiased decisions…. but the referee had little affect on this game.

  13. Amobi Okugo taught Chuck Norris how to fight

  14. I do not know Edu’s career that well but from his time on the Union, he is a much better player at CB. He is just better suited for that position. He is similar to Urby Emauelson, former Milan outside back/winger. Even in a defensive midfielder roll with a known playermaker next to him he wants to get forward, I would go as far as calling it selfish play by Edu. You give him a little room for offense and he wants to be a goalscorer first and defend later when it’s defend first then when the limited opportunities occur go ahead and get forward. From the games I have seen Edu play at DM, there are too many times when he is jogging back looking at a striker run at the backline.
    Now when he is a center back, his veteran presence really oozes out of him. He conducts the back line like a conductor of an orchestra, constantly giving feedback to White about his positioning and working through the game very well.
    Other comments from the game is that Wenger absolutely tore up Yedlin. One of my friends noted if Yedlin is to play like that, he will never get off of the reserves at Spurs. The only thing he has going for him is his speed.
    The Union showed what has helped them in this great run of form but also showed what will be the death of this season and that is lack of depth.

  15. You have made it clear you are a Okugo guy, but I think Curtin made the right choice and Edu replayed him with a goal. Noguiera was inches from sealing the game in regulation. The team went into the Extra Time with tired legs and it took a great finisher like Dempsey, a DP, to win it for Seattle. If anything it showed that the difference between teams was another quality striker as opposed to moving Edu to CB.

    • Guys-you have to be good to be lucky. If it’s only luck EPL teams collectively would not have spent billions this season to assemble great players.

      “Ladies and gentlemen the fault is not in our stars the fault is on us”–Shakespeare.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      The question is not about me being an Okugo guy. The question is about Curtin changing his system for one game. Edu should start and he should play. Saying he repaid him with a goal is not an accurate or appropriate comment because it was a set piece goal, not from the run of play. You’re welcome to criticize me all you want, but you can’t point to Nogueira almost winning it without pointing out Dempsey biffing on a couple open nets and Martins, Pappa and Dempsey somehow not bundling the ball home when White was badly dispossessed.
      The Union have played their best soccer lately, and much of it is has been played with Edu at centerback. He has been their best player in that position all season.
      If you want to talk strikers, I absolutely agree with you, the Union have real needs there. But on Tuesday, Curtin had no control over that. He did, however, have control over his defensive and midfield lineups and organization.

  16. Just listened to the latest addition of Extra Time Radio — was interesting to hear what is more of a 3rd party take on the Open Cup game and our team. Consensus among the hosts is that Philly is a striker away from being an elite team in the league.

    Otherwise, they said much of what has been said here — that when Seattle can go to the bench for Pappas and Martins and we have Cruz and Fred, there’s you’re problem.

    • Unless Brown becomes that striker now, the Union will be more than a striker away next year. Even if Casey returns,it will have to be in a lesser role. Does Ribeiro step up? We need to be able to sub for LeToux or Wenger with a more skilled option than Cruz – as much as I admire his energy. Who’s the playmaker when Maidana is out? But the XI that won at TFC is top shelf and Curtin should be proud of that fact. As a local, he should be proud of his role in the road to last Tuesday & the impact on soccer’s polarity bere.

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