Union match reports

Match Report: Philadelphia Union 1-1 Chicago Fire

Photo: Earl Gardner

Amobi Okugo was set to be the Philadelphia Union’s savior after his 88th minute goal appeared to have stolen three points for his team from a dour contest on Thursday night, but Rais Mbolhi’s misplayed stoppage time clearance allowed Robert Earnshaw to claim a share of the points for Chicago Fire.

In a match with little to talk about between two teams lacking quality and attacking ambition, a 0-0 scoreline would have been a fitting result. But, when Brian Brown stumbled and lost Danny Cruz’s cross between his legs, Okugo pounced, streaming in behind him to pound home the would be winner.

Any celebration would be short lived when, in stoppage time, Mbolhi failed to deal with a simple back pass, clearing the ball softly into the path of Earnshaw. Stranded off his line, Mbolhi could only look on as Earnshaw raced at him before lofting a delicate chip over his head.

“This one, again, we had it in our hands,” said  interim manager Jim Curtin after the game. “We let it slip away. I’m going to be upset about it for a long time.”

First Half

With the Union struggling for goals, Jim Curtin was forced to deal with the loss of Sebastien Le Toux, with his ankle injury ruling him out for the night. Curtin responded by sliding Cristian Maidana to the wing and placing Fred into the attacking center midfield spot. Up front, Conor Casey was rested, with Pedro Ribeiro starting as the Union’s target forward.

Maidana nearly cashed in on an early gift when he pinched in from the right flank to pick off Lovel Palmer’s aimless pass. Unfortunately for the eager PPL Park crowd, the Argentine hooked his effort around the far post.

Okugo looked to kickstart the attack from his defensive position and in the 6th minute sprung Andrew Wenger up the right flank. Though Wenger’s cross was well-struck, Bakary Soumare was in the right place to beat Ribeiro to the ball at the near post.

Ribeiro was again in the thick of the action in the 13th minute when Sean Johnson failed to deal with a ball in front of the Union attacker. But with the keeper stranded, Soumare again was well placed to see off the chance.

With both sides struggling for chemistry, the match swung back and forth across the center stripe, while rarely giving either goalkeeper cause for concern.

In the 38th minute, Ray Gaddis played Maidana into the Chicago box. When he was eventually cut off, Fred pounced on the loose ball. Union players were flying into the box, but Fred failed to locate a teammate, sending a wayward pass out to midfield.

Vincent Nogueira had the Union’s best chance of the first half just before the break. Cutting into the box, Ribeiro was dispossessed, but the loose ball fell to Nogueira who drilled a rasping effort just over the bar.

Second Half

Just as he had in the first half, Maidana was handed a gift early in the second half on a soft backpass from Alex. But, as in the opening minutes, he got his finish wrong, ballooning the chance high and wide.

Maidana was again off target in the 56th minute after Wenger ran past Alex and squared back for him. Only 8 yards out with the whole goal for which to aim, Maidana sidefooted the chance wide of the near post.

Chicago nearly found a chance in the 64th minute when Qunicy Amarikwa took advantage of a Carlos Valdes slip to race up Chicago’s right flank. Attempting to slide the ball in behind, Amarikwa found Gaddis, but when the Union fullback missed his kick, substitute Florent Sinama-Pongolle looked to have a step on Okugo. But the Union midfielder recovered well, sliding in to deny Sinama-Pongolle a shot from close range, and then cleared the ball from danger.

Harrison Shipp next tried to test the Union defense with a long ball to Amarikwa, but Edu glided across the box to win an important foot race.

The Union should have been ahead after 73 minutes when Wenger bounced off two defenders and laid the ball into the path of Brian Brown. But with only Johnson standing in his way, the young striker snatched at his shot,  and missed the target by a healthy margin.

Just as it seemed the match was destined for a goalless draw, Okugo drove into the box to grab the opener. Substitute Danny Cruz had aimed his cross for Brown, but when the striker could not dig the ball out of his feet and allowed it to roll through his legs, Okugo was on the scene to bury the opportunity.

The euphoria around PPL Park would be short-lived.

With the Union looking to close out the match in stoppage time, first Nogueira, and then Edu, played the ball back into their own half. When the ball reached Mbolhi, the keeper failed to strike his clearance cleanly. Sending the ball directly to Earnshaw, Mbolhi was left to watch the play unfold from no-man’s-land as the Welsh striker condemned the Union to fourth straight league match without a victory, severely denting their playoff hopes.

“All the guys in the locker room were disappointed that we didn’t get a win,” Curtin said. “So now we’re in a hole.”

Curtin added, “It’s not in our hand anymore, that’s for sure. We’re going to need a help. We will have to win our last three and we’re going to need a lot of help.”

The Union next face Columbus Crew on Saturday , Oct. 11 at PPL Park at 7 pm.

Philadelphia Union
Rais Mbolhi, Fabinho, Carlos Valdes, Maurice Edu, Ray Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Vincent Nogueira, Andrew Wenger, Fred (Danny Cruz, 61), Cristian Maidana (Antoine Hoppenot, 77), Pedro Ribeiro (Brian Brown, 61)
Unsused Substitutes: Zac MacMath, Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Ethan White

Chicago Fire
Sean Johnson, Alex, Bakary Soumare, Patrick Ianni, Lovel Palmer, Jeff Larentowicz, Logan Pause, Sanna Nyassi (Patrick Nyarko, 71), Harrison Shipp, Grant Ward (Florent Sinama-Pongolle, 58), Quincy Amarikwa (Robert Earnshaw,77)
Unused substitutes: Kyle Reynish, Gonzalo Segares, Chris Ritter, Matt Watson,

Scoring Summary
88 — PHI: Amobi Okugo (Brian Brown, Danny Cruz)
90 +2 — CHI: Robert Earnshaw

Disciplinary Summary
5 — CHI: Lovel Palmer (Foul)
86 — CHI: Patrick Nyarko (Foul)
90 +1 — Jeff Larentowicz (Foul)

Philadelphia Union Chicago Fire
18 Attempts on Goal 5
2 Shots on Target 2
12 Shots off Target 0
4 Blocked Shots 3
11 Corner Kicks 3
34 Crosses 14
2 Offsides 5
15 Fouls 11
0 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 0
401 Total Passes 408
79% Passing Accuracy 78%
51% Possession 48%
42 Duels Won 47
47.2% Duels Won % 52.8%
17 Tackles Won 15
1 Saves 1
14 Clearances 25


  1. Well that sucked.

  2. This team has SORELY needed a forward late this season, and when the opportunity came to buy one earlier in the year, they went with a position where no buy was necessary. And now it has directly impacted this game and thus the playoff race–not just with the error from M’Bolhi, but also not having a clinical, skillful forward to create and finish chances. Simply baffling. Sakewicz needs to answer to this stuff sooner or later, especially from the fans.

    • Tonight was my wife’s first Union match, and when I saw the lineup, I told her the only goals we might get would come from Okugo or Edu. 15 minutes in she agreed with me. After the Brown ‘only the keeper to beat, miss the target by 10 feet shot’, she wanted to know how I watched this every week. Her only soccer reference is our daughter’s U-14 team, and she could see that we had no threat to score up front.

    • UnitedPenn13 says:

      Mistakes happen but World Class Goalkeepers don’t make mistakes like that. He was lucky last week too thanks to Carlos Valdes bailing him out when he was caught out of position against DC United. So far I’m not impressed with the quarter million dollar keeper. He should be benched and put Zac back in goal.

  3. If we had a real team with depth up front, it would have been 3-0 at that point and irrelevant. Chicago didn’t care, but the lack of any quality on the Union’s part made their job easy.

    That being said, I’m not sure how you run Mbholi back out there. He could have a run of 10 clean sheets in a row next year and I won’t forget this.

    The real problem here is Sak. It is amazing how much tonight’s game proves his mismanagement on so many levels – lack of depth at forward, money spent on positions (GK and CDM) where capable players were already on the roster, and the loss of those young players who are supposed to be this team’s core strategy in the offseason for nothing.

    We re-dooped our tickets today, and I can honestly say right now I want to call back tomorrow and cancel. Not just because of the result, but because I don’t see anything changing as long as Nick is in charge.

  4. Let me be the first of the McMath fans to say “I told you so”. What a crushing mistake

    Even if they won the U did not look like a playoff team. That team looked like it was allergic to scoring. The boos at halftime were not undeserved.

    But is the team regressing or just returning to their baseline?

    • I’d say returning to their baseline. No matter how many coaches we go through, if Sak’s still the one making the GM decisions, we’ll never improve relative to the league as a whole. He’s only ever going to do enough to make sure we don’t fall so far behind as to lose ticket sales. He always seems to be a year behind in the quality of his signings relative to the rest of MLS.
      I think that the team Hackworth coached in the beginning of the year, and the team we see now, that’s this teams baseline. Just like when Hackworth took over, we saw a bump in performance when Curtin took over. Now we’re witnessing the return to what this team truly is.
      M’Bolhi’s screw up tonight was just one of the rare blatantly obvious manifestations of Sak’s incompetence.

  5. I renewed my seats yesterday. I’ve never felt like more of a sap than I do right now. I am just disgusted. Cue Jim Mora “Playoffs? You’re talking about playoffs???!!!”

  6. Walking out, the guy in front of me said, “I feel like somebody just shot my dog.” I couldn’t agree more about feeling badly at the end of the game, except I was worried from the time that the starting lineup was announced. Ribiero missed a sitter again, and the offense simply looked like there was no plan, desire or urgency. I can honestly say that this was the first time that I looked at the team that was put out there on the field and wondered what Jim Curtin was thinking. Fred, Fabinho AND Ribeiro get time, all at the same time? That was a preseason lineup, not a play-in game lineup. Wow. Just wow. What a disappointment.

    • There was a plan . . . it was the same plan John Hackworth used. Get the ball down the sidelines and keep blindly crossing until the ball accidentally finds a teammate or goes in. I know that to be true because even though he brought on Hoppenott and Brown, he didn’t change this Hacktic.

  7. I love youtube. I watch the old games and the videos posted of the sons of ben. I really enjoy the videos showing the group at the draft. Back when they were trying to get the leagues attention.

    I want a new video to be posted on youtube, showing the full membership of the S.O.B marching down to the clubs front office. Calling for the removal of Nick Sakiewicz as C.E.O of this club. Yes, I know he is part owner which is fine he can own part of the team. I just don’t want him anywhere near the front office.

    I will not attend a game at ppl park so long as Mr. Nick sakiewicz carries the title of C.E.O. I believe we must show our common desire to have a complete reorganization from upper management down to the field. am I the only one that thinks Blake and Mbolhi are on Mr. Nick Sakiewicz!

    Yes, blake and Mbolhi have talent but this Union team had they used the draft and summer transfer window to get a left back and a forward could be in the playoffs this year. I don’t want to keep watching managers rotate in and out because Mr. Nick Sakiewicz goes with the pet project and not addressing the true needs of this club.

    Let’s make a decision do it now or after the last game. That should be the only question, do it now or later? But We need to march Sons of Ben style down to the Office.

  8. Is there any chance that we could sgin a forward on par with our rivals? I’m a bit naive, but what’s actually stopping us from spending 7 figures on a proven goal crusher?

    • Well, the union claim their not poor, so we could if there was an open trade window. Window is currently closed and the rosters are frozen at this time.
      we could have gotten one in the last transfer window but apparently we didn’t need one according to the staff or their boss cause we got mbolhi.

      • I just get angry watching a team that’s never played a game bring Lampard and Iniesta…what the hell! I’m hyped for the league overall to bring that high caliber of players (even if it is their sunset years) but let’s step up as a franchise! I’m not downplaying the midfield additions last year but let’s raise the bar

      • Yea… Iniesta is still on Barca. Valid attempt though. I think you mean David Villa… who is two seasons removed from Barca…

  9. Let’s look at the positives:

    1. We’re effectively done for the year, so we should get to see McLaughlin and Pfeffer. Finally.

    2. See 1., and maybe JK will call up Amobi or Gaddis since we don’t need em anymore this year. (I thought the main take home from the Open Cup final was that Gaddis is faster and better than Yedlin as either a right or left back.)

    3. We now can be pretty sure that Curtain is in over his head. There was no reason not to start Okugo in Open Cup final. Last night Okugo showed (again) with his goal-saving track back and his goal that he is one of the 2 or 3 best players on this team (along with Nogueira and Edu). Get a real manager and let Curtain learn from someone.

  10. 700 chopper says:

    Wow where to start oh yea I know WE SUCK and this new miracle keeper he really sucks bring back MacMath. Tonites match goes down as one of the worst football matches I have ever seen at any level including little kids I kid you not pardon the pun. Today heads should roll down at PPL park cut the whole shitty squad!!!!!!!
    Go Union Doop

  11. That game was an absolute snore fest until the hero and then the most dunderheaded of plays by the keeper. A mistake is a mistake. The timing of the mistKe is what hurts — and me so excited to rush to the computer and ask rhetorically, ‘so coach are you going to bench Amobi next week after he saved your season and maybe your job.’ Damn. My cynicism will have to wait….
    No worries fans and friends. We all saw the reality of this team last night. We still suck so much.

  12. Did anyone else think that a proven finisher, not a superstar, was all we needed last night? Jack McInerney? Just a thought.

  13. Andy Muenz says:

    1 win in 9 games against Montreal, Chicago, and Houston just doesn’t cut it.

    • Wow, I didn’t realize that we were that bad vs the worst teams in a weaker conference. Off the top of my head, I bet that we didn’t score more than 7 goals in those 9 matches.

      Just a terrible feeling walking out of PPL after a terrible performance and crushing result last night. There were no positives at all.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        7 goals is exactly what they scored including 0 against Houston.

      • old soccer coach says:

        So think about what that tells you. The bad teams that bunker in and wait for their own counterattack opportunities defeat us, Why. Because we score when there is lots of space to exploit with our athleticism and skill. We do not have the ability to break down a team that is defending first and playing defense only in the 45 to 30 percent of its field. We have such successes as we have had, particularly against Kansas City, because their high pressure defense and possession high pressure attack creates space in which we can counterattack. Do not misunderstand, I love watching Sebastian Le Toux play because of the courageous disciplined way he maximizes his talents. But how do you neutralize him? You apply the first principle of defending; you concentrate your defenders in a small space. John Hackworth broke out of that pattern of play at the beginning of the year, took the league completely by surprise and almost won some games with his new approach, then the league adapted and rreasserted control. Jim Curtin scrapped the offensive possession high pressure defense, as Hackworth should have when he dealt away the one striker with the speed to play that style of defense, and went back to defending and counterattacking, and the improved quality of the midfield brought in last winter made the approach much more potent. But the league adapted and the goals dried up as fewer teams came out to try to attack us on the front foot. We are an extremely athletic league whose technical skills are improving in both quality and quantity (look at the impact of two years in Columbia and Argentina on Carlos Valdes’ level of athleticism right now.) We need somehow to combine Maurice Edu’s athleticism and intelligence with Chaco Maidana’s ball control, vision and passing. And then add Hoppenot’s speed, Casey’s poise and experience and Ribeiro’s technical skill. Only problems would be that MLS would get mega offers for both players and sell them right out from under us, the way the Costa Rican fullback was sold from Columbus.

  14. A keeper the Union never should have signed . . .
    makes a kick he never should have made . . .
    on a ball played back to him that never should have been played backwards . . .

  15. OK, now that the anger and disbelief have subsided somewhat, I’m trying to think about what last night means.

    :::puts torch and pitchfork down:::

    1. Jim Curtin leaves me undecided. I’m not sure if he’s played his starting IX into the ground or if he leaned on that starting IX so much because he knew he really didn’t have quality to sub in. Ribiero and Brown have shown they flat out aren’t ready. The only person who I think earned his way into the starting IX since the WC is Andrew Wenger, who mostly plays really well. I’m leaning towards the latter: that he’s done everything he can and his players have just come up small at a terrible time. Without Casey or LeToux, this team is shot.
    2. Sak does not impress me. This is mostly on him. This team had no need for M’Bolhi. He’s shown us nothing that MacMath hasn’t. If I’m trading someone on this tam, M’Bolhi is at the top of my list. His “this is football” comment couldn’t be more out of tune with what Philly expects from its athletes. Send him to Orlando or NYCFC.
    3. The only players last night that I didn’t have a problem with were Wenger, Okugo, Gaddis (save a bad header) and Fabhino, who did a great job for a sub. Maidana — I have no idea what he thinks he’s doing. I think he needs his vision checked. Nothing else can explain his inability to put a shot on frame or his constant long passes to no one (or a defender with a different color jersey). Nogs was not as bad, but not a lot better. Lots of fancy footwork that adds up to blown opportunities.
    4. Set pieces…. WTF? How many were just not executed well. 11 corners. At least half a dozen free kicks in the attacking third…. Nothing to show for it. Curtin bears some responsibility for this.
    So that’s it. I had already come to believe that a playoff position was not something to get too excited about. This team had early exit written all over it by the time the USOC was over. Our hopes had to be dashed at some point,so why not last night? I’ll watch the rest of the season play out and pick other clubs to root for in the playoffs and hope this team can make moves in the offseason that make it better.

    • The other teams we play flick the ball over the end line gladly cause they know we stand zero chance of converting.

    • Curtin bears 90% of the responsibility on free kicks and corners. Remember that was his coaching “specialty” under Hackworth. Everyone keeps blaming LeToux and Maidana for not putting the ball into the box . . . but it’s Curtin who is calling for those repeated near post plays to Conner Casey, not those guys. Those are designed play’s instituted by Curtin that have existed back before he became head coach which DID NOT WORK before he became head coach. Same with the free kicks, all the fancy free kicks they tried to execute the past 8 games or so are his plays . . . you know the ones where they specifically target one player on the right side outside the box who then is required to redirect it back into the box for another player (ie the first FK again last night). It hasn’t worked once, worse than that 80% of the time the 1st player never even gets a chance to redirect since the first ball has to be perfect pass. That’s all on Curtin.
      Curtin is reason #1 the Union have had the most corners in the league but the worst goals to corner ratio. Twellman was spot on with his analysis on many fronts last night, none more so then when he said you have to put your kicks into the area to force the GK into making a decision. The Union more often than not make the decision easy for the GK by fouling up there own plays. Just kick the ball into the box and let your CBs make a play . . .

  16. Does anybody have pause that it took 80 minutes to go 4-4-2? This is the same thing happening all over again. COACH. Diamond. 4-4-2. Do it. We can’t score. This team is useless with Maidana on the outside. put him in the middle and put Hoppenot and Brown in the game and let him play balls through. Over the top a la Roger Torres. TT was talking about it all night and he was dead on. The game needed to be played behind the back four of Chicago and by the 45th minute it was obvious we lacked ideas. or the ability to do anything productive. Hoppenot for all his faults can run like a deer. Brian Brown fast as hell. Okugo to Noguiera to Maidana thread it through to diagonal running strikers- late runs by Cruz maybe on the outside. Man this is an alarm in my head about a guy who I like and think is a good man but is not quite ready for head coach. Last nights game screamed for break through and change and we got Fred and Ribero as lone striker.
    The game needed to be started in a 4-4-2. But I would at least have been ok with it at halftime. Fred? Really? He offered NO THING in that game last night. And Ribero trying to make turns with the ball but no where to go with it. Pedro Ribero is set up to fail as the lone striker. My God the guy played CAM most his whole life but now he is the lone striker? This makes NO SENSE.

    • Brown, Ribiero and Maidana all looked lost to me. Particularly in and around the box. I don’t think any lineup the Union put out there with the players available was going to score a goal. Brown blew every look he got. So did Pedro. Okugo bailed them out in the 88th.

    • Agree completely.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      You can’t go to a 4-4-2 when the manager doesn’t have the chops to make it happen.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Exactly right, Wolf. I was a Curtin guy…thought he had something. I’m not, anymore.

      • That’s how you know Sakeiwicz is going to hire him full-time. Or, if you prefer, as both Twellman and Lalas called him: Sekavich. I hope Nick heard that and it sent him into a rage.


    • Why kick it at all? Wait on it in the box. You want to possess the ball! They can’t score without it. The miss hit is more forgivable than the brain freeze.

  18. Someone remind me why we were clamoring for Pedro to get minutes earlier in the year. Please.

    • Well in fairness to him he is not a striker. One more player not in his most comfortable spot. You know as an aside would you trade sheanon at RB for Wenger at RB? I would in a heartbeat and on more thing TT was clamoring about last night.
      The game of the week friends. That spectacle was the game if the week.

    • Because he isn’t named “Wheeler”…

    • He is a CAM. Not a Striker so his inclusions into the line up is one of those typical Philly Union Monkeys Paw type things.

  19. Past performance may not guarantee future failure but you know what you get with Fabinho & Fred: not goals. Okugo also proved Curtin wrong. I like Curtin a ton, but that lineup was not going to score 2 goals against a team he warned about scrapping for a draw. Judging by the results of the ladt 2 games, he’s not ready. When you fire your coach, it may not be the right time to go on a shopping spree. So the search becomes the single most important job of the CEO. Not sneaking back into a playoff hunt that by all rights you forfeited by June. Not by ignoring all the great bounces you got on your improbable run in the USOC. A search that has been bungled beyond your worst fears. The timing of the Fan’s View piece on the value of reupping your season tix could no have been better. I am not a STH. But I endorse completely the sentiments in this thread that the fanbase vote with its pocketbook. If the SOBs lead the charge, all the better. This club doesn’t deserve its fans’ loyalties. If revenue drops, Sugarman will notice. And Sak will be shown the door. Unfortunately I don’t see giving up on the season until mathematically eliminated.

  20. game sucked. left after we scored because it just seemed certain chicago would equalize and I didn’t want to see it. hate to be proven right. frustrations re immediate game are understandable but the rot starts at the top: Sugarman and Sakehvich – one has no interest other than refusing to invest and waiting for someone to buy the team, the other has no *^#^$#!! clue. its obvious to all from this game: the money spent to get Rais would have been better used for a striker. in retrospect, Sak has been grasping at straws the whole time and bears responsibility for the current Union (including the lack of a training facility, the parking, etc). get rid of the bum.

  21. Thanks to the incompetence of Sakeiwicz to M’Bolhi ,this team is stockpiled with players who don’t have even the most basic soccer skill and so called stars who don’t have common soccer sense. Sakeiwicz is the absolute worst thing that could have happened to the dreams an aspirations we have for this team. To call him inept would be too much of a compliment. To say I wish he would go away would be an understatement. His bringing in M’Bolhi has done more to derail any chemistry than anything else. That’s just the latest in a continuing saga of the nonsensical BS this fan base has had to put up with. In my on personal opinion Sakeiwicz is a snake oil salesman. Hide your wallets. Goodnight nurse!

  22. Formerseasonticketholder says:

    When I told my wife what had happened in the game she laughed at me and said “Well I’m sure glad we got rid of our season tickets”
    That was definitely some of the worse soccer I have ever seen, good thing it was on national TV for the whole country to see.

    • National.T.V. I am not proud. I am in a haze today. At least my buddies in Portland have what resembles futbol playability when they watched the Game of the Week last night. Here. We have bronze level travel soccer. I am not proud. What was promising has become what was, which is what has always been, which is what one would call– SHITE.

  23. “Bring back Chris Seitz!”
    Not since Chris Seitz have I seen such boneheaded goalkeeping. Mbolhi has been a journeyman goalkeeper his entire career until he had one fabulous game in the World Cup against Germany. Well, that was enough for Sak to decide to add him as the future of the Union and dump MacMath and keep Blake on the bench. MacMath, while not a superstar, has played extremely well this year. Why would you undercut that and bring in Mbolhi? In the time Mholhi has played for the Union, has there been a single play where you thought, “Wow, this Mbolhi guy is really good. I see why they wanted to bring him here”. In fact, it’s been the opposite. Numerous plays where you scratch your head and wonder “why?”, capped off by last night’s blooper highlight play in stoppage time. While Sak is in charge this team will never be successful. Can I get my deposit for next year back?

    • No. I can’t think I have seen a single play to answer your question. As a matter of fact, the only time I have thought to myself that is really really really good goal keeping, aside from McMath’s solid play which he has been benched for (hmm sounds familiar Amobi.), is during a US Open Cup game when our Number 1 pick in the draft laid out for a steamer-ball that very very few would ever have reached and certainly not McMath. I thought to myself. oh, he’s good. The Near Future maybe. But now we have Rais M’Bohli and Zach pops sunflower seeds on the bench and Andre Blake, well who the %uc* knows where Andre Blake is.

    • Sakiewicz was actually trying to get M’Bolhi here before the World Cup. All that one good game against Germany did was raise the price significantly.

  24. A feeling of enthusiasm, hope, and wellbeing arouse like spring wind in my when our boy Okugo shot home. Then it was destroyed by the Ras kick. I could see the goal before it happened.
    Curtin tried to protect Ras a little with blaming the other players but I don’t see it. If they pass back the their keeper, why shouldn’t they be confident he will put it back in the opposition half.
    Curtin probably had to start MBoli. Based on his comments he had no problem with MacMath, but the front office said this is our new star, play him.
    Sak, run the business. Personnel decisions have to go to someone else.

    • Watched the clip again…. When you’re trying to just run out stoppage time, why wouldn’t he stoop down to pick the ball up? He kicked it just outside the box…. he had plenty of time to step back pick it up, take a quick walk and punt it. Yeah this isn’t the fault of Nogs or Edu. M’Bolhi M’Bolhied it. (c)

      • he couldn’t pick up the ball it was a back pass. in hindsight an outside foot touch to the right and a 3 iron up the field would have been fine.

      • In fairness, I also have some trouble shanking my 3-iron. I’m much better with the 4. Can’t seem to figure it out. I don’t know if i’m standing too far away with it or trying to overpower it, but it’s just not coming off for me.

      • correct you are. hybrid then.

    • Sak cannot even run the business, let alone the players. would not hire Sak to watch grass grow at this point – he would manage to kill it somehow.

  25. The Chopper says:

    Quick thoughts. Yes this team needs better scoring options, but for all their other gifts both Chaco and Nogs have been poor finishers. When we discussed where goals would come from early this season, it was pretty much agreed we would need about 5 goals from each of them.

    No excuse for Rais. He screwed up. Not mental. Just poor physical kick. A shank. At the worst time. I actually feel for him. I can’t blame him for taking the job, that’s on the front office. Prior to his errors I like his play in the first. 89. Strong and confident in the air and quick on his distribution. But now, he is our Bill Buckner. and from that he may never recover.

    • Chopper see now we are getting somewhere.
      Nogs has 2 goals I think. maybe 3 assists.
      Maidana has 3 goals maybe- 5 assists and 3 of them were in 1 game.
      we clamor and clamor about Nogs and Maidana but what really are they doing to provide scoreboard results. One can argue the lack of strikers causes some of the problems but we need some more productivity out of those 2 spaces on the field IMO.

      • Well lets look at whos around these two players. You have Nogs who wants to play faster and with more pace. He moves to get open the whole 90 min. and his teammates do not. In this game I couldn’t help notice that he was back in our defensive end just to get open to receive a pass. I wonder why Nogs has his hands in the air all the time, its because the rest of the team aren’t following his footsteps in making an effort to move on and off the ball. If everyone on the team would try to play with Nogs pace then we might not be having any of these conversations. On the other hand, Chaco I believe does need to show more but how can he when he is played out of position….

  26. OK, to feel better, I’m trying out memes. Not sure what I like better:

    1. http://imgur.com/G2vuDgN
    2. http://imgur.com/pwi6E1o

    I think I like 2 better. Probably could just say “That’s Football” no need for the oops.

  27. The Right Direction says:

    Painful game to watch. Didn’t like the starting lineup at all. Was Shaenon Williams Hurt?
    I like Ribs but he is not a striker at this point in his young career. STOP FORCING IT coach! Chaco is my favorite Union player but he’s totally useless on the wing.
    I’d love to see stats on Nogs shooting. He is never anywhere near the goal on his shots. He skies everything. What’s the problem?
    I’m sick about this slump. Unfortunately we are not a consistent enough club to deserve playoffs. Sucks!

  28. OneManWolfpack says:

    Maidana has been a real disappointment. I don’t what I expect from a DP making (I think) $400K… but it’s not what I see from him. He hates any kind of contact and can’t shoot on frame to save his life. I guess I expect a DP to have a positive effect on the game, at least once a night. Maidana disappears and disappoints WAY to often. His money would be better spent elsewhere

  29. From the Lalas interview before the game when asked if he should be named the manager JC said, ‘Yes. The record speaks for itself. 10-4-and something.’ Does beating my beloved NY Cosmos count in that 10 win scenario when considering hiring a guy? Truth be told he’s below .500 I believe in league games which is the real metric. Nice guy. Like him a lot. I will defend a ‘Philly/ guy with the carnal ravage of a rabid dog but I am Union first and we need, as the singer songwriter, Eels sings, “Fresh Blood!”
    For any of you wondering. Youtube/Rhapsody the song. Damn good tune.
    For the record, I’d hire Gio Savarese in a heartbeat.

  30. The Black Hand says:

    Unbelievable to see our club, yet again, eliminate themselves from playoff contention. Aside from Amobi Okugo (kid played his heart out) and Danny Cruz (always plays his heart out…just isn’t very good), there were very few players that showed up. Noguiera flat out disgusted me, last night!! To watch our talented, should be, leader show such little effort was pitiful. Yes, he is very smooth with the ball and he makes things happen, but his finish (passing and shot in the final third) are quite poor. That is what keeps Vincent Noguiera off of the list of “best in MLS”. Man, that guy pissed me off last night.
    The main culprit, I feel, was our manager…I pray that he is still interim. He had a spark when he started…it never ignited. Many of his decisions were baffling…

    Rais M’Bohli???? If Curtin intended for the Algerian to be “the guy”, he should have been being “the guy” for some time. (Personally, I feel the guy is the best keeper on the team and if he had been played consistently, he would have been a bit sharper). Curtin decided to toy with his netminders and misplayed his asset. MacMath responded to the challenge and raised his game remarkably. His efforts were heroic and he made HUGE saves!!! Since Curtin did not intend to give M’Bholi the necessary run, he should have scrapped implementing the Algerian and rolled with the keeper who raised his game. MacMath should have been in goal last night!!!

    Amobi Okugo. There has been endless discussion about Okugo and how he has been used by Curtin. Last night showed that Curtin was a fool for keeping #14 on the bench…a damn fool!! Enough said about that.

    Conner Casey. Where was he??? Odds are, he was completely spent and didn’t have the fitness to contribute. A good manager would have recognized his age and fitness and not run him out for 90′ during the US Open cup…as well as allowing him to hit empty in numerous league matches. It would have been nice to have the big man, last night.

    Fred??? I like the guy. He can play the game and he has helped our club. But, he lacks the pace needed to be the 10. This was a must-win match. Can’t see Curtin’s reasoning. He should have MADE Vincent Noguiera play higher up the pitch…that is what managers do…they position and adjust players, in order to get the most out of the XI. Curtin hasn’t done that.

    Curtin showed poorly with his in-game management, as well. His subs were stale and brought nothing to a club that had been bringing nothing since kickoff. Subbing on Brown, and keeping Ribiero on the pitch, would have been nice. We were struggling, as we have done forever, with a single striker. We needed a formation shift, not another single striker. AAHH…FUCK IT…It’s not worth jabbering on about. Playoffs are gone!!!

    • re: nogueira- you can’t force a player to competently play out of position. you can tell him to play that position and he can try but we have seen over and over again that he can’t play the 10 and there is no problem with that

      • The Black Hand says:

        I disagree, in regards to Noguiera being able to play higher up. He has already showed that he CAN do it. He just doesn’t prefer it. He has played, his entire career, at a much higher skill level. Asking him to adjust, in this league, is not beyond reasonable. Given the importance of the position on the pitch, Noguiera should have been there. I think it could have worked out with two strikers up top. Ribiero could have dropped back, to assist Vincent at the 10, with Brown staying higher up.

      • they have tried to play him as a 10 many times this season and it has never worked

      • The Black Hand says:

        He looked good…once. But, we were playing him with a lone striker up top. A player like Ribiero (experience as a 10) would have limited the need for Noguiera to consistently play high. We needed to start two strikers last night.
        Fred was not the answer. I think a, slightly, less-comfortable Noguiera would have been a better choice. Just my opinion…

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Black Hand – I think you confused Noguiera for Maidana… because Chaco SUCKED last night.
      And you are right about Okugo. He played his ass off. Gonna be a shame when Sack lets him walk after the season.

  31. With 9 days off, it wasn’t the time to sit Casey and Sheanon. Not on top of LeToux.

  32. Edu was excellent and selfless at CB. Valdes looked to be back to his old form. Gaddis did Gaddis, got beat in the air but made up for it with effort and speed. Fabihno played really well I thought on the left flank threatening to go forward. Okugo tracked back to fill in as necessary. All of that prowess, shut you down, selfless defending, good karma from fans for decisions on the defensive side from the coach, etc… All of that defensive goodwill got negated in a moment at the foot of MBohli. Seems like a good guy, but why is he even in Philadelphia? I feel bad for Union defenders who played great. I don’t feel bad for Coach Curtin because he completely dumped the season with his decisions starting with the USOC starting lineup, and last night’s offensive lineup was a joke, but defensively he put a good group out there… But the fact that MBohli is on the field and makes that mistake, which he has been showing us in the last few games that he is capable of with short clearances, I blame the Front Office and Sak. Sack Sak!

  33. I will never understand how players can screw up a play where all you have to do is just clear the ball down the field. There was barely any pressure on him, the ball was not bouncing at all, great pass back from Edu, and all he had to do is use his laces instead of his instep. Blows my mind! Having said that, I think choosing the right keeper for this team has been tough since MacMath hasn’t made it easy or clear to see that he is the definite starting keeper, (ex. NYRB match where Henry scores from way outside the 18 with a weak shot.)That play is on M’Bohli and him only. Secondly, whether you like him or not, Fabinho had an excellent game. He broke down and stopped many opposing players and didn’t get caught out of position. His typical strength in going forward showed as well. I wouldn’t mind seeing Gaddis on the right and Fab. on the left. At the game I couldnt help but notice that the SOB section was looking thin. I understand its a week night and all but the entire SOB section should be filled every game! Even if we suck sometimes. That was disappointing to see in my eyes. Also, can anyone tell me why they keep chanting Valdes? Yes the guy has been playing well but has made critical mistakes at times too, with being out of position, horrible clearances at times, and he is quite slow. How come we haven’t heard a Nogueira chant yet? I wish they would show their appreciation like they do with other players on the team. Valdes and others can be replaced but with Nogs there is no replacement. have no idea why Chaco was put out wide. One of Curtins biggest mistakes on the night. Chaco can’t run the flank he obviously gets too tired and doesn’t have the legs or stamina. Chaco and Nogs should always be played in their preferred positions with no exceptions! Fred is a good substitution to have but he has shown hes no starter. Lastly, our forward situation is horrid but not a problem we cant fix. Ribiero looks absolutely horrible and does not know how to play the striker position we desperately need on this team. We talk about MacMath getting the short end of the stick but I think Hoppenot has been treated even worse. This guy has played what, only a couple or a few full matches in his career with the Union and when he doesn’t show or score in the ten minutes he has every game he never plays again or gets sent down to Harrisburg. He had a pretty good impact on the match I thought. He has one of the best ball skills on the team with keeping the ball to his feet and taking on defenders and the only forward on this team who can do it at full speed successfully. He totally annihilates defenses on every MLS team, his distribution was great and he actually created space and opportunities to get the ball. His movement on and off the ball was what stood out for me and what we needed all night and all year. Hoppenot can be one of the Fowards we are looking for but he has to play more than 1 game a season and more than 10 min. a game. He needs to start and get comfortable with this team.

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