Union match reports

Match Report: Philadelphia Union 0-0 Colorado Rapids

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union dominated their opening match of the 2015 campaign but could not find a goal against a resilient Colorado Rapids team that earned a scoreless draw despite playing the final 20 minutes of the contest with 10 men.

Bobby Burling was sent off in 68th minute for a second yellow card offense, and a host of Union attackers missed chances. Rais Mbolhi was not forced to make a single save, with the Rapids managing zero shots on goal.

“Happy with the group in terms of defense — I thought we were solid, we didn’t give up many chances,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said after the game. “Created enough chances to get three points today. I look at it as two points dropped. Disappointed from that standpoint.”

First half

Curtin started the 2015 season with a 4-4-2, with Vincent Nogueira and Maurice Edu protecting the back line of Sheanon Williams, Ethan White, Steven Vitoria, and Ray Gaddis, and Rais Mbolhi in goal. Sebastien Le Toux and Andrew Wenger started on the wings, with CJ Sapong and Fernando Aristeguieta up top.

The Union began brightly with two chances in the opening 15 minutes. Gaddis made a smart overlapping run in the 10th minute, and the ball was eventually played through Wenger out on the Union left side. Wenger’s low cross was toward Le Toux but just missed the striker as he streaked in at the near post.

Two minutes later, Edu almost opened the scoring from a Le Toux corner kick from the right side. The central midfielder made good contact with the service but put his shot just over Clint Irwin’s goal with a volley from 8 yards.

It would be Wenger with the Union’s next chance in the 21st minute. A good cross from Williams on the right saw Irwin flapping at the ball, which came through to Wenger on the left edge of the box. The winger cut back inside and fired a hard right footed shot that skimmed the top of the crossbar before going out of play for a goal kick.

The Union’s chances would keep coming. In the 31st minute, Sapong picked off an errant Rapids pass 35 yards from the Colorado goal. The forward drove at the Colorado back line before dishing off to Le Toux on the left side of the box. With a great chance to shoot on his favored right foot from 15 yards, Le Toux instead tried to slide the ball into Aristeguieta in the center, and the danger was cleared by the retreating Rapids defenders.

The final chance of the half would fall to Le Toux after some good work from Aristeguieta, who did well to beat two defenders at the top of the box in the 44th minute. It looked like the Venezuelan was fouled before the ball rolled through to Le Toux, whose shot was saved by Irwin.

Second half

CJ Sapong could not shake off a head injury he suffered at the end of the first half and was replaced by Cristian Maidana to start the second half.

The Union pressure continued, with Maidana sending in a deep cross that was played back across the box by Le Toux, only for Aristegueta to scuff a shot just wide of the far post from 12 yards in the 47th minute.

In the 53rd minute, it was Maidana again creating havoc around the Colorado box. This time, the midfielder took the shot himself and fired just wide of the far post from 18 yards.

Colorado would finally get a decent look at the Union goal in the 61st minute when Dominque Badji slammed a shot from the left side into the side netting from 15 yards.

In the 68th minute, the Union gained a man advantage when Bobby Burling earned his second yellow card of the match after holding Le Toux as the Frenchman streaked past the center line with the ball on the counterattack.

The next chance for Philadelphia came in the 79th minute when Andrew Wenger did well to hit a low cross into the near post. Aristeguieta collected the rebound well and then chipped back across the box. But Le Toux could only head over of the goal from 7 yards.

Zach Pfeffer and Conor Casey were both introduced in the 85th minute for Nogueira and Le Toux as Philadelphia searched for the winner.

Casey was involved almost immediately following a free kick from just outside the Colorado box on the left. Madiana’s delivery was well hit toward the near post, and Casey’s flicked header forced a good save from Irwin.

In the 90th minute, Pfeffer would also get a chance to put the Union ahead when a long cross from Williams cross eventually found the Homegrown Player at the back post. Pfeffer did well to control the ball and cut inside onto his right foot, but his shot was high and wide as he tried to curl into the far corner.

The Union would have one last chance to take all three points when another Maidana free kick was well placed into the Rapids’ box. Again, it would be Casey getting on the end of the free kick, but his header was just wide of Irwin’s right post.

“The positives are we kept a clean sheet at home, which is something we’ve stressed all preseason,” Curtin said. “We need to keep clean sheets at home. The goals will come as the group moves forward.”

The Union will get a chance to score those goals and keep another clean sheet next Saturday when they face Real Salt Lake on the road.

Philadelphia Union
Rais Mbolhi, Raymond Gaddis, Steven Vitoria, Ethan White, Sheanon Williams, Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira (Zach Pfeffer 85′), Sebastien Le Toux (Conor Casey 85′), Andrew Wenger, CJ Sapong (Cristian Maidana 45′), Fernando Aristegueta
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Richie Marquez, Michael Lahoud, Fabinho

Colorado Rapids
Clint Irwin, Michael Harrington, Jame Riley, Bobby Burling, Axel Sjoberg, Lucas Pittanri, Marcelo Sarvas, Vicente Sanchez (Dillon Powers 55′), Dillon Serna, Gabriel Torres (Shane O’Neil 74′), Dominque Badji (Deshorn Brown 88′)
Unused Subs: Marc Burch, Sam Cronin, John Berner, Carlos Alvarez

Scoring Summary

Disciplinary Summary
COL: Bobby Burling (foul) — 24
PHI: Steven Vitoria (foul) — 25
COL: Axel Sjoberg (foul) — 45
COL: Bobby Burling (foul) — 68
COL: Dillon Serna (foul) — 73
PHI: Fernando Aristeguieta (Unsporting behavior) — 90+7
COL: Lucas Pittinari (foul) — 90+7

Philadelphia Union Colorado Rapids
16 Attempts on Goal 2
4 Shots on Target 0
9 Shots off Target 2
3 Blocked Shots 0
5 Corner Kicks 1
36 Crosses 15
1 Offsides 5
11 Fouls 23
2 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 1
473 Total Passes 320
75% Passing Accuracy 59%
60.7% Possession 39.3%
60 Duels Won 59
51.% Duels Won % 49%
9 Tackles Won 16
0 Saves 4
8 Clearances 34

Click here for complete match stats.


  1. You don’t start Maidana? Are you kidding me? We’re just killing time now until Curtin moves along and we get a real manager.

    and take Seba off of corners and set pieces. The guy bounces the ball before the first defender over half the time. Enough.

    Embarrassing. Can’t get 3 points at home against a 10 man Colorado. No aggression from this team. Just going through the motions, and not particularly well.

  2. Fire Curtin. This loss is entirely on him.

    • I agree. We should have taken it to this Colorado team… ESPECIALLY after the red card. We should have hit them with Jim Johnson type pressure (to steal from Eagles football). We should’ve had 10+ shots on target. We have too many players all trying to serve the exact same role. It didn’t appear that there was any game plan either.

    • Wow. You guys are jumping off the cliff already huh? It wasn’t perfect, but it certainly wasn’t bad. We not only kept a clean sheet, but prevented any shots on goal and created a lot of chances. I probably would have preferred the Pfeffer and Casey subs about 10 minutes earlier, but other than that, not a fire-able offense in the first game.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Yeah I agree. Everyone needs to chill. The late subs were just that… late. They should’ve been right after we went up a man.

      • Atomic Spartan says:


      • Jumping off a cliff already? That’s presuming that I was ever standing on the The Jim Curtin Cliff, which I wasn’t. Just another Hackworth in my mind.. maybe a little less “Southern Dumb” if you will. But still not a fan of an assistant with no track record. Hire a real manager.

      • At least you spelled it correctly.

      • “Not a fire-able offense in the first game.”

        Well… he never had a hire-able achievement in his career, so…. don’t really need a “fire-able” offense to get rid of him. We just need to understand that he was never accomplished enough to be chosen for this position, the same way that Hackworth was never accomplished enough to take the position. You’ve got a bit of a logical fallacy going on. I don’t need to prove that he’s not good enough. He should’ve proven that he was good enough before he was hired, he didn’t, now the fans will suffer more pointless soccer.

      • The Union should have totally hired Alex Ferguson. You know, he’s proven!

        Comparing Curtin to Hack is moronic.

  3. First game but a mid table result from a mid table team. No other way than to see it as two lost points. With the typical man up blemish of unwatchability. Will it be Ethan White this year for me- my case in point to low soccer IQ and poor technique? Remains to be seen but he is off to a good start.
    Before getting in to that though, lets just say this. Today’s homework assignment was to count 5 pass sequences. In the first half, the club, our club- was able to complete five passes in a row three times. 3! From my POV, uckily, Sapong got pulled and the 4-4-2 was ditched— as the nano second Maidana stepped on the field his influence was felt and interestingly enough, the number of 5 pass sequences began to grow– for a total of 6 prior to the red card sending off at which point it only seemed far to stop counting (turns out they played worse though with man up).
    What’s my point? My point is Maidana has to play. Maidana has to be on the field. He is the aesthetic. He is the metronome. He also influenced Edu into more of a withdrawn role which was good as, again, Edu pushed up field in the 4-4-2 – leaving huge swaths of space, that a better team is likely to exploit- but it seemed when they switched to 4-2-3-1 he stayed home more.
    Maidana is the metronome without him it is chaos. His fulcrum for possession, if that’s what we want to call it, MLS possession which is not really possession- is mandatory and needs to play and he needs to recieve the ball 60-65 times a game minimum– otherwise- we got nothing offensively that resembles watchable football. That was painfully obvious to me today.
    Back to Ethan White. Yes a zero on the board consititutes good defense all around, however, he scares the hell out of me. He looked woefully unsmooth on the ball and single handedly rendered the Union man advantage nil by standing in Nogueira’s shadow each time the deep lying play maker tried to build play from the back- and thanks to this Colorado only needed one player to mark nearly three Union players. Ethan Ethan Ethan. It must be better.

    I thought Andrew Wenger played nicely but am concerned about his shuttling of the ball from left foot to right foot, slowing down the developing play and ultimately causing attacks to fizzle. It happened at least 3 times. He cut in nicely on the right foot once and took a good shot in first half- eventhough Edu I believe was in huge space at the top of box- completely unmarked.

    Pfeffer looked a bit lost but that can be attributed to the entire team looking foolish and lost playing a man up and again, to a degree, I blame white and/or the tactical thinking that kept him from knowing when to push wide to let Nogs drop deep. When we are in possession, my hopes are that White and vitoria push wide and the OBs push up the pitch with Edu as pressure release – think Marchisio and Pirlo. If white pushes to the touch line and vitoria provides lateral outlet support the middle of the field would have opened up to begin calmly building play with the winger providing 2v1 overlaps with OB or pinching in — but each time Noguera came back to receive the ball as deep playmaker no one knew what to do. This is concerning. It was an utter cluster fuck. One point equals, “balls across the nose.”

    • Plodding is the word that kept occurring to me. The whole team. There really is no speed- or maybe it’s quickness that’s missing since Edu and Sapong have wheels. There aren’t any multiple gears with this team, where they can change the pace of play and show different looks to someone. Just push it down the wings and cross, and cross over and over. No one shoots from the middle of the field. And when Curtin doesn’t play Maidana they have no creativity either. Maidana has to be out there if fit.

      This team has an odd inability to play a man up. They’ve been a man up often the last year, but it always seems to be a detriment rather than an advantage.

      On a lighter note, it struck me today who Aristeguieta looks like- the supervillain from that great Simpsons episode: Hank Scorpio. I’d like to see side-by-side pictures of those two!

      • Gruntled Fan says:

        Yes, yes, and yes, we have Hank Scorpio as our new striker!!! Wish this wasn’t the best thing pointed out about the Union yesterday.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Love the Hank Scorpio call. A tifo must be made.

      • He looks like a young Groundskeeper Willy to me.

      • WestmontUnion says:

        The biggest take aways for me are:
        Le Toux, who I rate very highly as a high IQ and efficient footballer, is best deployed upfront when playing 4-4-2. He has a nose for goal, and also reads his strike partners movement better than Sapong. Fernando and Le Toux upfront would have yielded a goal yesterday, without a doubt.
        Sapong was impressive. He’s only going to get more confident, and fitter (he was a little slow on the counter). He is definitely capable of playing on the wing, drawing defenders wide, to allow Fernando and Maidana more pace up the middle. Hopefully Curtin adjusts going forwards.
        Danny Cruz. I think we missed him out there. With 20 minutes to go, he could have been brought on to charge at the tired and sluggish backline and be the disruptor that he is.
        Noguiera, my favorite player, looked out of sorts. Curtin should have subbed him at the 65 minute mark and given Pfeffer a long run out. I hope it’s down to match fitness, and not a lack of synergy with Edu in the middle. If they play another game like that next week, Curtin has to move Edu to CB (for White, who god awful), and pair Nogueria with Maidana in the middle.
        Overall, it was a sluggish match but we had signs of life. I think Vitoria and Fernando are great signings, and I hope we are still in the market for another CB or CM, which would move White to the best. I like White as an athlete (and great photographer), but his big hoofs out the back to no one over and over again was amateur.

    • I think Nogueira had an uncharacteristically bad game in possession as well. That probably accounted for a part of the problem. But agreed, Maidana holds the keys to unlock an organized defense.

  4. This is my first time posting here, so take it easy on me everyone haha. I thought that CJ and Nando looked really good together up top. Hopefully CJ recovers quickly. They forced a lot of turnovers and both looked capable of going the full 90. That’s a pleasant change from last year’s situation.

    What I didn’t like about the game was the 4-2-4 formation and the way it operated today. Both CJ and Nando seem to be the kinds of strikers who hold a high line, bother the defense, and then make streaking runs to get the ball. While there is definitely a place for two-forward system with those types of guys, I found the way the U ran it problematic because it left a HUGE gap in the middle of the field. With both Nogs and Edu shielding the defense, the only options were to run up along the sideline through Wenger and Le Toux or to hoof it over the back line. While Wenger showed promise out wide (I thought he had a great game), there was no way it could create chances the whole game. I really feel the offense would have been a lot better with either Sapong or Nando filling that space in the middle, provided we keep the same starting 11. Do any of you have thoughts on how the 4-2-4 worked out?

    • I don’t know if it showed as much on TV, but Nando and CJ were literally running in to each other. They were making the same runs, attacking the same long balls, and attempted to occupy the same spaces. If they’re going to play together (and I maintain and have always maintained that Sapong really isn’t good enough to play), they have to have much more clearly defined roles. I think it makes much more sense to just pull Sapong for Maidana.

      • Sapong is definitely good enough to play. Probably just not a great with with a guy like Nando. But CJ Sapong definitely is good enough to start and score goals. We just need a manager with a brain who won’t take our best chance creator and most dynamic player and start him on the bench. Le Toux needs to hit the pine.

      • You didn’t see them “running into each other” a ton, but you could tell that they were playing too much of the same role. But I see the same thing with Maidana and Noguiera. They seem to cancel one another out for some reason. So Nando and Nogi or CJ and Maidana?

    • Dan Walsh says:

      Glad you weighed in!

      The 4-2-4 was … not good. You articulated it well enough. 🙂

  5. I understand that Colorado was aided by dirty play and a pushover ref, but the Union should have been able to beat them regardless. As stated above, there were some coaching mistakes. Not starting Maidana is just the first. Waiting 15 minutes after the red card to get some fresh legs on the field was the second. I’m sure there were more that someone with more knowledge of the game could identify.
    We got answers to some of the more prevalent offseason questions. Is Nando physical enough for MLS? No. Is White starting quality material? No. The jury’s still out on Vitoria and MBolhi; again, they weren’t really tested.
    I don’t have any stats to back it up, but in my opinion Edu didn’t look too solid this afternoon. Nogueira got sloppy towards the end, and Maidana wasn’t put in ’til the second half, so I think it’s safe to say our midfield didn’t play to its fullest potential.
    For my money, I think the best formation to try going forward is a 4-1-3-2 (Williams, Edu, Vitoria, Gaddis; Nogueira; Wenger, Maidana, Le Toux; Nando, Sapong). It cuts White (obviously the weakest link) out of the equation, and allows for both Maidana and Sapong to start. There might be some questions having Nogueira as the lone CDM, but that’s the position he played in France (CDM, not sure about the sole CDM, though). And honestly, I think Nogueira looked to be in better defensive position than Edu today. It serves a dual purpose to have Edu at CB; he’s better than White, and everybody knows that Edu’s only shot at the USMNT is at CB.

    • Edu was unimpressive all around. Some poor touches. Lazy back tracking after losing responsibility of the ball way up field. A better team pounds them today. More of the same I am afraid.

      • Agreed. Edu seems to have regressed back to his play early last season, when he just looked unmotivated and lazy.
        He’s the captain, and is definitely more vocal to his teammates. But his actual performance is lacking.

      • The way his passes were dying in between him and the intended recipients… you would’ve thought the grass was like 8″ long. Way too many of them got intercepted and put into counters going the other way. He needs to fix that.

    • You don’t think Nando is physical enough for MLS? That’s an odd thing to take away from today.

      • Maybe not physical enough wasn’t the right wording. More like he complains to the ref like he plays for SKC.

      • Oh. because he’s TOO physical. The other team has to drape themselves all over him to try and stop him and I guess he’s thinking “WTF?” LOL.

      • Wtf indeed. I think what I was saying is more about his inability to adjust to the MLS ref style. Once the ref didn’t call the first few Colorado fouls, Nando still went down when he was fouled instead of fighting through it. He definitely was fouled, but it was clear to everybody but apparently Nando that the ref wasn’t going to call it, yet he still went down every time.

      • This to me is small potatoes.
        There are some other big issues that revelaed themselves yet again.
        Groundhog day as mentioned in a post below.

      • Definitely small potatoes. It wasn’t the focal point of my original comment, though.
        The same big issues. Same as it ever was

      • MD Jessup says:

        Sometimes a player goes down not just for the call, but because they have been knocked off balance had their legs taken out from under them or otherwise been physically assaulted by the other team.

    • Nogueira needs to be more advanced. He’s one of our better passers in attack. I don’t expect Curtin to be able to figure out how to put these puzzle pieces together.

      • Nogueira is the best player on the team in my opinion. He is one of the better passers in attack, but he’s even better when he’s sitting deep. He’s the soccer equivalent of a quarterback.

      • Yes. Noguiera’s wheelhouse is deep starting the attckthen staioning himself as outlets. He doesn’t have to be a “playmaker” he has Maidana- except of course when Maidana isn’t on the field, then no body is the playmaker.

      • But if he’s not involved in the final attacking third with the rest of our attack… we’re not maximizing our potential, in my opinion. He’s probably got the best long shot on the team, from what I’ve seen, along with Maidana. He’s got the best touch on the ball in making short chipped passes… and he reads runs better than everyone else with the ability to deliver the ball. If he’s not getting in position to deliver the ball to Nando and Wenger making runs in the final third… or take shots when he has space… I feel like we’re half as dangerous in attack.

        Although I agree with what you guys said about him being good in a deep lying position. I think it’s a huge waste on this team and we need someone who can create in the final third far more than we need someone distributing the ball in the midfield. Anyone can distribute the ball in the midfield, but if you don’t have a guy with a magical touch in the final third to make something of it… then it’s all for nothing.

      • I understand your point but possession, or the retaining of possession in the midfield is a significant weakness IMO as evidenced by my original post above.
        I like Noguiera anywhere really as he knows how to play the game at every station on the field.

      • Yeah… retaining possession is premium. I guess I’m more of a person who want my most talented players making things happen closest to the other team’s goal. My personal opinion is that making incisive passes and making things happen in the attacking third is the most difficult thing to find in soccer, so if you have a guy who can do it… gotta use him for it. In my opinion, there are a ton of guys who can wait on the outskirts and take possession and make a backward pass to reset things. Let’s just hope Curtin figures something out.

      • Maybe. I think you’re right in that we’re better in attack when Nogueira is part of it, but as Joel said above, if we have Maidana, having Nogueira in attack is redundant. And Nogueira, as a player, is better when he sits deep and masterminds the attack.
        The only way to find out if the *team* is better is to try it.

      • Noooo way. Maidana and Nogueira arent redundant at all. They both bring different skill sets and work well together. Maidana runs with the ball more and pacey crosses into dangerous spots where Nogueira doesn’t really make runs but delivers the ball to runners and puts the ball where it needs to be with crosses.

      • Nogs isn’t as effective higher up the pitch……let him sit deep and orchestrate…he will still occasionally drift up to rip one…….

      • Not yesterday.

      • Disagree…….we were essentially in a 4-2-4 yesterday and you don’t want either Nogs or Mo covering that much ground. You should never have to take Nogs off the pitch……..but with what they were trying tactically…he was gassed in the second half. Let Chaco sit in front of Nogs and Mo and let all of them do what they do best….what they have made careers of……

      • The Black Hand says:

        Nogueira needs to step up his play in the attacking third.

      • Dan…we tried it last year and Nogs was running around like a chicken with its head cut off….literally with a wtf? Look etched across his face………

      • No he wasn’t. He was one of our top 2 players last year specifically because of the chances that he created for other players in the attacking third.

      • Alicat215 says:

        I think he’s our top player Dan……but doing what he does best…..pull the strings and be the pivot man for the attack……but not in the OMID spot….he’s always played in a double holding spot…even in France. They certainly did try him farther up the pitch last year……he wasn’t bad…..but it’s not his favorite….and you could tell he wasn’t happy there.

    • I disagree about Nando. He’s incredibly aggressive and more than physical enough.

      • The Little Fish says:

        Yes. A bit premature to say that Nando can’t handle the physicality of MLS. Let’s give him more than 95 minutes to acclimate, ok? @freys2

      • I corrected myself already in this thread. But I’ll reiterate: what I was trying to say is more about his inability to adjust to the ref’s style. Once the ref didn’t call the first few Colorado fouls, Nando still went down when he was fouled instead of fighting through it. He definitely was fouled, but it was clear to everybody but apparently Nando that the ref wasn’t going to call it, yet he still went down every time.
        So, given the wide range of referee styles in this league, if Nando needs more than 95′ to adjust to each one, then we’re in trouble.
        But, that wasn’t really the focal point of my comment. As Joel said above, small potatoes compared to most of this team’s problems.

      • He didn’t go down for fun dude. He went down because he was getting brought down. I really didn’t notice him fall down when he could’ve kept going once. If I tackle you right now… that’s not you going down. That is me tackling you. He fought through pretty much everything he could.

  6. Former Season Ticket Holder Greg says:

    Is it groundhog day? Am I really living the same day at PPL Park over and over and over? I’m 50 matches into this and I swear I’ve seen this before.

    • In defense of the Onion, the field looked quite nice and ready to be played on. No small task and at least different.

  7. The Chopper says:

    The negatives will certainly get hashed out here. The positives, I take away.

    1. Nando is going to score goals in this league. He gets himself in the right places and he will fight,

    2. Wenger continues to develop.

    3. Casey off the bench is a pain to deal with, late in a match.

    4. We didn’t get burned on a set piece, MBolhi and Vittoria are a help in that regard.

    • Casey should be starting. I don’t even care. He gets the best shots on goal. People are going to say… ohhhh. he’s too old. He’s too slow. They were saying that same thing last year when Hackworth was keeping him on the bench and the U couldn’t score any goals.. and I told them then… we aren’t scoring goals because Hackworth doesn’t know who our goalscorers are. Finally he started putting Casey on and Casey started scoring goals immediately. Casey IS old and slow. But he’s a goalscorer. As long as he can get in the box and other players can put the ball into the box, Casey can score goals. And if you’re going to respond he’s too slow and old, you’re wrong. He IS slow and old, but he’s still effective.

      • Dan Walsh says:

        Well said.

      • Nah, he’s perfect for the last 20-30 minutes in a game when we’re tied or down. Let Nando and / or CJ do the heavy lifting for the majority of the match and then hit ’em with Conor towards the end. Not a 90 minute player anymore, and I really like Conor Casey. Just the reality of the situation.

  8. Alicat215 says:

    Had enough chances and really didn’t give up too much….should have won the match. Stop with the 4-4-2 crap. Nando, CJ,…..and Wenger all running the same lanes…play getting clogged and narrow…..easy to defend. Two things were clear to me today……get Nando as a target forward with room to operate…by himself…and Madaina needs to be on the pitch. Now please Jim, can we play like the older kids in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 now? Lastly, your a man up with 20 minutes left and your still playing for a set piece win? What is that? Why not press the $hit out of them and start knocking the ball around to run them ragged? You can be a counter team….but when the opportunity presents itself….you have to be able to ping it around and dictate the match too

  9. I cant beleive i got myself excited to watch this shitty fuckign team.

  10. So, my glass half full perspective…
    Clean sheet is always a good thing.
    Vitoria impressed me. I thought he did a solid job in the back controlling things.
    Fernando impressed me. I like that he was willing to get physical, and I like that he was unwilling to accept the ref’s crappy game.
    I was very glad Fred and Carroll were both out of the game-day 18. Cruz, too. But we can’t be sure if that was because of injury or not.
    I thought, overall, Wenger and Le Toux did an OK job dropping back defensively on the wing. It wasn’t perfect, but most of the time it was certainly good enough.
    Casey looked very tough to handle coming off the bench. That’s a big plus, in my opinion. As I recall, in the past one of the knocks on him is that he’s not an effective sub; that he needs time to find the game.
    And now, the glass half empty perspective…
    Jim, WTF? Why didn’t Maidana start that game? Why? *sobs*
    Jim, WTF? Why did you wait so long after the red before making changes? Why? *sobs* Pfeffer for Nog made sense to me – but it should’ve come sooner.
    Dear Ethan White: Can you please find those aliens from Space Jam and force them to share Carlos Valdes’s talent with you? Please? Dude scared me today when the ball was at his feet.
    Speaking of ball at feet… I think one thing Union fans might miss this year is Zac MacMath’s ability with the ball at his feet. MBohli didn’t look very good, to me, with the ball at his feet. At all. Hopefully his other skills make up for that.
    I really think the ref blew it. I thought the Rapids should’ve been given a card for their clear time-wasting nonsense. Also, that the horse collar tackle (I didn’t see who it was against) was only a yellow and not a red is also a big mistake in my opinion.
    Le Toux had a few dead-ball kicks that were nice, but overall I think somebody else should take ’em.
    Overall, it’s definitely lost points. And that shouldn’t be accepted this season.

    • The Little Fish says:

      Great post. Agree 100% regarding Maidana and your rant accurately captured my frustration regarding same. WTF Jimmy?!? Please put Chaco in the starting 11 every single week!

    • i’m surprised there isn’t more talk of the two really clear missed penalty calls. one for a really blatant handball and one for a foul against nogueira

    • Great post John, I agree with all your comments. Just to add to it, I was really impressed with Fernando, especially considering it was his first game and he joined the team late. He will score a bunch of goals for us….

    • MacMAth’s ability with the ball at his feet???? Please… if you’re watching the games and you miss MacMath doing stupid tricks in oncoming traffic and almost giving away needless goals, then you have a problem.

      • John Ling says:

        MacMath’s goal kicks are better than MBohli’s; his punts are better than MBohli’s; and yes, his ability to handle the ball on his feet in traffic is better than MBohli’s. Maybe – likely – it won’t matter that MacMath has better skills in those departments, because MBohli has WAY better skills in other, more important, ones – command of box, reading play, awesome facial expressions, killer beard, etc.
        Clearly, it didn’t matter yesterday. Clean sheet with no shots on goal; that is damn hard to do any better than. All I’m saying: MacMath always looked a hella lot more comfortable when the ball was played back to him than MBohli seemed to look yesterday, plus the small sample size from last year.

      • I’ll wait until it’s not 40 degrees before I judge MBolhi’s ball skills. And I will try hard to consider that one gaffe vs. Chicago last year as an anomaly. But MacMath’s ball skills never really seemed that great to me.

      • That’s fair. Absolutely. Small sample size and all that.
        And as I said, it may not matter. All I was saying was that MBohli didn’t look comfortable when the ball was at his feet, to me. And that I wasn’t too impressed with his goal kicks. Maybe it was weather; maybe it was just a bad day; maybe it is a minor issue, but his other skills make up for it; maybe I was just seeing things. Whatever.

  11. old soccer coach says:

    Ethan White is not a great center back; he has one very important quality necessary in a flat back four and that is speed. He has had to run down strikers from behind in the past and has done so more often than not. Brains can compensate for foot speed to some degree, but I refer you to Montreal two seasons ago for the problems with two plough horses teamed at center back, no matter how wise and experienced. Curtin wants one of them to be an Arabian, White is the closest to an Arabian he has there, and I think he’s correct in his choice. Oduro is playing striker for Montreal; we have to play Dallas (Fabian Castillo) and Vancouver (Darren Mattocks and Eric Hurtado) once each. There are probably other burners I’m forgetting. I admit I will be curious to see how Richie Marquez does when he has to step in, but he did not show blazing speed last year.

    Pfeffer for Nogueira did not maintain the same level of effectiveness, unfortunately. I hope Pfeffer gets another chance or two, we need effective creative depth there.

    Jim Curtin correctly evaluated that Colorado at this stage of its season is weak, and chose to start his two striker set against them as he judged their ability to exploit Nogueira and Edu being caught up field out of position to be limited. We nonetheless looked better with Maidana on the field in a single striker set, no question.

    The biggest question I have is why in the second half the earlier success exploiting Wenger down the left outside channel was re-explored so infrequently. Partly that was because Maidana would range out there and Wenger would shift centrally. But Wenger isolated 1v1 is an advantage. We seemed thoroughly right-handed in the second half.

    The trouble with sitting Le Toux in the two striker set is that he, while by no means perfect in this regard, can be more trusted to provide defensive cover for Nogueira and Edu when they are rampaging forward that Maidana because Le Toux has somewhat better recovery speed. Chaco looks in better shape and stronger, but Seba still has an edge even though it is not to the degree that it was six years ago.

    I loved Aristigueita’s work rate on defense and his willingness to come back to help out. He had his first taste on MLS gorillas gripping, groping, pulling and elbowing and with a referee who tolerated it more than some. His response to the challenge was to persevere. He won’t threaten the goal scoring record, but he’s an upgrade over what was available last year.

    We still have trouble against a bunker. We are in fact better off 11 v 11 than we are 11 v 10 because when the enemy is a man down, there is no space, and we do best when there is space.

    If Le Toux had been in goal scoring form we win by at least two. Grinding my teeth, but not dismissing the possibility of an improved side.

    • old soccer coach says:

      One other thing. We were often failing to exploit the width of the field. The wind was meaningful in its effect on play in that regard, but we occasionally made the big switch work, early on, less so in the second half.

      • Yes. Numerous times in the first half – when the Union were attacking right in front of us – I noticed that Williams had a ton of space potentially available to him down the wing and he wasn’t taking it. It actually looked to me like he was specifically told not to abandon his defensive positioning. For example, I recall a couple free kicks that were in the middle third but our offensive side of mid. Williams positioned himself about 12-15 yards from the kicker, often Le Toux, even though if he had simply bolted toward the corner he either would have all sorts of space, or would’ve forced CO to defend, leaving space elsewhere. Overall, though, it’s minor.

    • 12-15 gols from The Striker. Need it.

    • The Little Fish says:

      Another great post. I agree Curtain looked at Colorado and said “I’m going for the 3 points using 2 strikers because the Rapids offense does not pose a threat to us….giant midfield gaps be damned!” Oooopsies.

    • Pretty much spot on why the value White, OSC………+1

    • No… it’s because we have no aggression when the other team has 10. We somehow switch into a mode and think that if we just keep making sideways passes, eventually the red sea will part and we can walk a goal in. That is completely Curtin’s fault that we didn’t get more aggressive when we went up a man. I can’t stand people saying that we’re better when the other team has more players. LOL. If that appears to be true…it’s because of GROSS incompetence by our manager. We should have went all out in attack this match, ESPECIALLY after they went down a man. We were on cruise control at the speed limit the entire game and then when they went down a man… we went on cruise control 5 mph below the speed limit.

  12. We suck so much! Fortunately so does Colorado. Shameful display.

  13. I’ll leave the technical analysis to much better posts above – Joel, Old Soccer Coach and others. My 2 cents.
    Nando going the full 90 and his work rate. If he can find the back of the net he will be a hero in this town. I want to like him. Please, score goals.
    The first 15 minutes with Gaddis overlapping Wenger down the left side.
    Maidana’s first 10 minutes on the field
    Casey’s header off the free kick that found Irwin instead of the back of the net.

    The 4-2-4.
    LeToux’ decision making, set piece delivery and shooting.
    Edu playing too much in front of Nog. A better opponent exploits that.
    Ethan White.
    Gaddis and Wenger running around their left foot. My 13 year old daughter has more confidence crossing with her left than those two.

    For a team whose stated goal is to sneak into the playoffs, dropping points at home to the worst team in the West is a poor way to start. Union record v. MTL and CHI is what knocked them out last year, and this starts the year on the same path.

  14. In other news Jozy Altidore will score 25 goals this season-unwittingly further cementing the discrepancy between european football and american soccer- and the nerve, to Panenka his spot kick in 89th? Please.

  15. Wow is Colorado a bad team. They are awful. Which makes the goalless tie even more painful.
    Everything’s been said already, obviously Chaco has to play. I think Le Toux really had an awful game. His set pieces were absolutely brutal, and he missed the 3 best chances of the game for either team.
    Mbolhi looked solid and so did Vitoria. Wenger is progressing and Casey is a great bench option. Sapong looked off, just running around aimlessly.

    • Maidana has to play, but its for Sapong, not LeToux. And yes, LeToux was awful today – poor set piece delivery, poor decision on breakaway to square instead of shoot, and two bad misses on goal. But LeToux still provides defense that Maidana cannot.

      Also, my opinion of Vitoria is still undecided. I saw a slow CB, a little scared of what RSL and FCD will do to him in the next two weeks with their speed.

      • Vitoria is slow. But I absolutely love the way he communicated. He was the marshal in the back. That’s an underrated necessity.

      • John Ling says:

        Agreed. I also noticed some subtle movements away from the ball that helped him out a few times; just a few steps this way or that, but it allowed him to make the tackle easier, or be in position to receive the pass better. I’d prefer a smart, big, but slow CB over one with a low soccer IQ.

    • the rapids may be a bad team, but they did everything right in terms of packing their box and playing physical (dirty) football to earn a point. The Union pressed as needed, but probably could have been quicker in ball movement at the end when they were up a man.

      Maybe Jimbos 4-1-3-2 “experiment” didnt work, but it did press the Rapids into their box and created chances early on. Most good managers experiment regularly.

      Still, a pretty decent first outing if you consider this team has not gelled yet at all. Fernando is here, what, 2 weeks? New center back, etc?

      C’mon guys, the typical Philly hand wringing and foreshadowing of doom after one game is getting tiresome.

      • Azog D'Filer says:

        Well jbh, this is Philly fandom!! We love you, but we love to tear you down even more.


        As far as the game is concerned, I agree it was a proper first try and the team can only get better moving forward.


        Ethan white is a liability. He has the ball skills of Danny Cruz without the speed and that is a dangerous combination. Richie Marquez should push for that starting spot.

      • Great One says:

        I’m not predicting room in general. Im saying this game had really stupid tactics. The team has talent and character, but the manager needs to step it up.

      • GreatOne (Grt1) – not referring specifically to your post, just the overall tone since game night has been pretty harsh considering this team needs more time in the oven before we really start freaking out.

        Tactically, Jimmy is going to step in it a few times.

  16. Everyone pretty much said it above. Chaco has to start, as he’s the most creative player on the team. 4-1-3-2. Gaddis-Vitoria-Edu-Williams-Nogs-Wenger-Chaco-LeToux-Nando-Sapong. If you need to go a little more defensive 4-2-3-1, send Sebastian to the bench, push Edu up to play holding mid, and insert White in the back. Pretty simple, depending on the philosophy. Casey should be the standard striker sub in the last 15-20 min of a game where we need a goal, loved him in that role today…Sapong should exit. When Seba doesn’t start, he subs in for Wenger, at minute 60-65 all things being equal. I like the Pfeiffer for Nogs sub as well. Unless there’s a dire emergency, I don’t want to see Carroll, Cruz, or Fred ever dress for this team.

  17. The Black Hand says:

    Oh boy!
    I don’t even know where to begin…

  18. Felt like watching the same non-playoff team, just a different year.

  19. Alicat215 says:

    people…..please stop with the 4-1-3-2…..respectively. There are a few CDMs in the world that can shield a back four alone….and when it’s done with one…the premise is that you are going to be set up in the oppositions half of the pitch for long stretches of the match. We do not play that way. Some Italian sides actually run 4-3-1-2’s to avoid this……but you run the risk of some narrow football.

    • Look, you have an outstanding goalkeeper in between the pipes, right? That’s the premise. You also have probably one of the top central defenders in the US program in Edu. You have a good CDM in Nogs, who can maintain possession and control the pace of play. We finally have two capable goalscorers (Nando, CJ) with a 3rd off the bench, Casey (who will be invaluable in the last 20 minutes of games, especially when tied or trailing). We have an attacking CM in Chaco that can control the ball and is quite creative. Plus, two very capable wings in Wenger and LeToux. Add in two very willing outside backs, who can make runs (Williams better than Gaddis at this, but Ray still capable). Why wouldn’t you want to exude ball control and press, especially in games against weaker teams in the league? It’s this kind of outside-the-box (from an MLS perspective) thinking that turns 1 pt into 3 pts yesterday. Don’t have to do it every week (nor should you, as formations need to fit both the side, the opponent, and the situation), but in a game like yesterday, I would have thrown the kitchen sink at Colorado from the opening whistle.

      • This has been my argument as well. Counter strike against a team you should clearly be better than? At home?

      • Alicat215 says:

        I have no problem with pressing and throwing the kitchen sink at them……see my post farther above….it’s exactly what I was saying…but in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1………not in a 4-4-2 or 4-1-3-2! There is only one team, that I know of, in the world that presses in the 4-4-2 effectively…..and that’s Athleti now, do you want to compare our roster with there’s? The way we play 4-4-2 or 4-1-3-2……….is narrow and easy to defend……..hence why a rugby team was able to sit back and generally absorb what we did yesterday……..and we still should have won!

  20. pragmatist says:

    After a day to settle down from a disappointing draw, it occurs to me that if we had put away any of our clear chances, everyone would have a different tone.
    Yes, Chaco needs to start in place of CJ, but this is not the apocalyptic scenario that people are displaying here. The defense held its shape. The offense was able to create chances. We simply (as is our tradition) were not able to finish.
    Considering that Colorado turned it into a rugby match, I’m willing to give them one or two more non-freezing games before pulling the panic button, like so many people here are doing.
    It was one game against a heavily bunkering team. We missed clear chances. Let’s see how that plays out before calling for everyone’s job.

    • The Little Fish says:

      I agree. Just 1 game. Sucks to tie a poor squad at home. Totally blows that nothing went in the net. But probably should not be used as a barometer for the entire season.

    • Wrong. We just played what was arguably the worst team in the league at home. You think that it’s going to get somehow easier if we keep up the level we played at today? Not only will we have to maintain our level of play from today… but increase it by about double if we want to stand a chance in matches against teams that are better than Colorado… which is EVERY other team and the league, most being FAR better than Colorado. Colorado has an entirely new back 4 and was starting two of their SuperDraft picks. LOL.

      • I want to start by saying, we should have won yesterday. There is no reason not to beat a team down a man. However I really think you need to calm down a little bit. What happens if Wenger hits his shot 6 inches lower and goes in instead of hitting the cross bar? What about if LeToux gets his breakaway past Irwin, or if one of those late chances go in? This game was inches away from being a 2-0 or 3-0 win. Was everything rosie, no it wasn’t. But what is needed is a couple of small tweeks. Put Maidana in from the beginning, keep the wingers a little wider, finish some chances and we are having an entirely different conversation today. M’boli didn’t even need to make a save. The U dominated the game and didn’t finish. Am I pissed they didn’t win? You betcha, but come on it is not time to panic, it is time to get behind this team, have faith Curtain will figure the tweeks out, and this team makes the playoffs. Nothing from this performance showed that making the playoff is unrealistic.

      • pragmatist says:

        +1. Well said.

      • bravo +1

  21. The Little Fish says:

    My observations: We really struggle with a man advantage. When teams bunker in against us we rarely find answers to the lack of space. We do and will continue to lack creativity without Chaco. Very ugly indeed. Just slightly better than NCAA level. The good news there is how much better we look if Curtain would friggin start Chaco, Doh! Gaddis really looked like a righty last night. I noticed it more than usual versus Colorado. Vittoria and Williams looked good to me. The bad outweighed the good LAST NIGHT but this will get better for sure!

  22. That was an awful game to watch. The officiating was even worse. Colorodo was playing rugby. We probably should have had at least two goals just on PKs.

    Lots of good critiques above. For me, it was a lot of really poor passing from the Union that hurt. Just giving the ball away over and over again. The 4-4-2 formation looks like a no go. Stick to the 4 2 3 1. Maidana on the field made the Union 200 percent better.
    The good news: I put altidore on my fantasy team. (And Mbolhi in goal).

  23. OneManWolfpack says:

    So, WSSM… but it was game one. One game. It’s sad, but the Union have lost a lot of games like the one they drew yesterday. No excuse for Curtain not to start Maidana, and his subs were… at the very least… 5 minutes too late. I’d say 10 minutes but that’s here nor there. Hey, we could be Colorado. That team was god awful. My god.

  24. Craig Strimel says:

    Not to imply that it negates any of the good points mentioned here, but I’m wondering what effect the cold had. It’s been a while since I played the game, and I don’t remembering it holding us back as kids, but first game, after training in warm weather — as much as I agree that “plodding” is a good descriptor, I wonder if the players were just cold, literally, but on top of still working out the kinks, etc. Feel free to slam me for even going here, as I am truly interested to hear opinions of more insightful fans.

  25. 700 Chopper says:

    The game is exactly what I expect from the Union blah blah blah mediocre play and a substandard product from ownership that doesn’t care about the fans ( Lot A was a disgrace). Our defense was it good or was Colorado that bad and after that all I saw was the same old crap play. 2015 looks to be the year of no improvement and six seasons in we still need a real scoring threat up front. Go Union and Go Philly Soccer page

    700FC rules

  26. Tactics were a big factor in my opinion. In the second half, one man up and the union were playing long ball. No build up. We saw the 2 center backs especially White, playing long balls to the middle of the park just giving the ball away every time and bypassing both Maidana and then Pfeffer when subbed in, killing any chance of creative play or wing play that could have stretched their defense. Just awful to watch. That’s when the coach is supposed to make a difference. No game plan to close that game out, or poorly executed.

  27. WestmontUnion says:

    The biggest take aways for me are:

    Le Toux, who I rate very highly as a high IQ and efficient footballer, is best deployed upfront when playing 4-4-2. He has a nose for goal, and also reads his strike partners movement better than Sapong. Fernando and Le Toux upfront would have yielded a goal yesterday, without a doubt.

    Sapong was impressive. He’s only going to get more confident, and fitter (he was a little slow on the counter). He is definitely capable of playing on the wing, drawing defenders wide, to allow Fernando and Maidana more pace up the middle. Hopefully Curtin adjusts going forwards.

    Danny Cruz. I think we missed him out there. With 20 minutes to go, he could have been brought on to charge at the tired and sluggish backline and be the disruptor that he is.

    Nogueira, my favorite player, looked out of sorts. Curtin should have subbed him at the 65 minute mark and given Pfeffer a longer run out. I hope it’s down to match fitness, and not a lack of synergy with Edu in the middle. If they play another game like that next week, Curtin has to move Edu to CB (for White, who god awful), and pair Nogueira with Maidana in the middle.

    Overall, it was a sluggish match but we had signs of life. I think Vitoria and Fernando are great signings, and I hope we are still in the market for another CB or CM, which would move White to the best. I like White as an athlete (and great photographer), but his big hoofs out the back to no one over and over again was amateur.

    • +1.
      I only watched the first 35 minutes but saw so many bad passes or passes to no one (kick ball), I thought I was watching amateur hour. By the way, where is the Onion’s version of Samuel Eto’o?

      • Agree no decent play in 1st 45 min… Wenger only decent player… Or trying to make plays/things happen

  28. NEED TO BRING THE BALL DOWN!! :S Wasnt able to watch 2nd half (had to work)… But man… 90% of the 1st 45 min the ball kept getting kicked or booted up in the air… Am i the only 1 that saw this lol At least look like your trying to play pretty decent football :/ Anyways lets go the Union standing firmly by the team… Mls is mls…. #Doop!

  29. The Rapids are such a crap team. They will easily be the last-place team in the new look West. They made no effort to attack (or even to pass the ball). They just cleared the ball up field and clutched, grabbed and hacked their way to an undeserved 0-0 tie. That said, we played right into their game plan by playing balls in the air to our center-forwards. We needed a speed option like Hopponent off the bench.

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