Union match reports

Match Report: Philadelphia Union 0-2 FC Dallas

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Zach Pfeffer was shown a red card at the end of the first half, and FC Dallas scored twice in the second half to defeat the Union 2-0 at PPL Park.

Starting in his first game of the season, Pfeffer saw a straight red card after he led with his forearm in a tackle against Mauro Diaz in the 42nd minute. Tesho Akindele and Ryan Hollingshead scored to start the second half and Dallas comfortably saw out the match to take three points back to Texas.

“I thought the game had a good tempo to it, good start,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said after the loss. “I thought we had some good chances in the first 10 minutes. We had some real good looks at goal. Weren’t kind of clinical in our chances. And from that, I would say the red card happened and from there, credit to Dallas, they out-played us from that point on. They’re a good team and anytime you’re going to play down a man, with stoppage time, 55-60 minutes, it’s going to be difficult.

“Having said that, I still think that the chances we gave up on the day were self-inflicted.”

First Half

Jim Curtin made one change to the side that drew 3-3 in Salt Lake last weekend, with Zach Pfeffer coming into replace the injured Chaco Maidana in central midfield. Eric Ayuk and Dzenan Catic were named to the bench for the first time in their short Union careers.

Dallas would create the first scoring chance in just the second minute. Fabian Castillo worked his way free down the right side and easily beat Ethan White for speed. Castillo was able to pick out Mauro Diaz, but the midfielder could only scuff his shot to the right of Raid Mbolhi’s goal from 15 yards.

The Union would get their first chance in the 8th minute through good work from Sebastien Le Toux and Zach Pfeffer. Le Toux was able to shake free down the right side and slide a pass into the path of an onrushing Pfeffer. Pfeffer’s first touch took him wide of the goal and he could only manage a poor angled shot that Chris Seitz did well to save with his feet. The rebound spun off of a Dallas defender and skipped just wide of the gaping net.

The Union would require an early substitution when Sheanon Williams was forced off with tightness in his hamstring after 25 minutes.

“It hurts – injuries are always going to affect you because now you’re going to your bench,” Curtin said of Williams’ injury. Fabinho replaced Williams, moving Ray Gaddis to right back.

The Union would get their next chance in the 29th minute. Andrew Wenger did well making headway with the ball down the left side and was dispossessed trying to push his way into the Dallas box. The ball fell for Maurice Edu who struck a powerful drive with his left foot that Setiz could only parry to his right. Edu was able to regain the ball and loft in a cross to Fernando Aristeguieta, but the forward could only head over the bar from 7 yards out.

The big moment of controversy in the match came in the 42nd minute when Zach Pfeffer received a straight red card. The midfielder appeared to lose his balance going into a challenge with Mauro Diaz just inside the Union half. Pfeffer made obvious contact with Diaz’s head with his forearm and was given his marching orders by referee Jose Carlos Rivero.

“I watched the replay in slow-motion plenty of times and I realize on the replay that it doesn’t look great,” Pfeffer said after the game. “I explained to my teammates that there’s absolutely no intent whatsoever. I was going so fast, I don’t think there was time to slow down, and I slipped a little bit.”

Philadelphia had one final chance in the half when Ray Gaddis made a strong run down the right side before cutting a ball inside for Aristeguieta near the corner of the box. But the striker could only fire his shot high and wide of Seitz’s net.

Second half

FC Dallas took only four minutes after the start of the second half to score the first goal of the game when Fabinho’s clearance was blocked 35 yards from the Union goal by Tesho Akindele. The Dallas midfielder chased the ball down with a clear path to the Union goal and fired low and hard into the right corner of the net past Rais Mbolhi.

Ten minutes later, Dallas doubled their lead when substitute Ryan Hollingshead received the ball at the top of the Union box. With the Union defense allowing him too much time on the ball, Hollingshead took one touch before shooting the ball into the left corner of Mbolhi’s goal. Hollingshead did well to take his chance, but Mholhi will feel he could have at least gotten a hand to the shot that was hit more for placement than power.

After the second goal, the game hit a long lull with Dallas content to sit deep in their own half while Philadelphia’s possession was largely the contained among their back six players. The Union passed the ball around for long periods of time but failed to make much headway into the Dallas box.

Rookie Eric Ayuk was introduced for Andrew Wenger on 74 minutes. The youngster showed flashes of skill as he ran with the ball, throwing stepovers at any Dallas defender that engaged him.

Michael Lahoud was brought in for Ethan White in the 81st minute as Philadelphia went to three in the back to try and get at least a goal back. But they failed to create a quality chance.

The Union’s next opportunity to earn their first win of the 2015 season will happen on the road against Chicago on Sunday, March 29 in a game that will be nationally broadcast on ESPN2.

“We have to go on the road and get a result now,” Curtin said. “We’ve got behind the eight ball but you have to win your home games. Ideally, I had us on six points in three games. We’re on two points now but the goal was a least six or more so we’re behind. We have to go somewhere now and win on the road.”

Philadelphia Union
Rais Mbolhi, Raymond Gaddis, Steven Vitoria, Ethan White (Michael Lahoud 81′), Sheanon Williams (Fabinho 25′), Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira, Zach Pfeffer, Sebastien Le Toux, Andrew Wenger (Eric Ayuk 74′), Fernando Aristegueta
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Richie Marquez, Dzenan Catic, Brian Carroll

FC Dallas
Chris Seitz, Zach Lloyd, Matt Hedges, Atiba Harris, Moises Hernandes, Michel (Ryan Hollingshead 45′), Mauro Diaz, Fabian Castillo, Victor Ulloa, Tesho Akindele, Blas Perez (David Texeira
Unused Subs: Walker Zimmerman, Kellyn Acosta, Jesse Gonzalez, Je-Vaugn Watson

Scoring Summary
DAL: Tesho Akindele — 49′
DAL: Ryan Hollingshead –59′

Disciplinary Summary
PHI: Vincent Nogueira (foul) — 23
DAL: Michel (foul) — 26
DAL: Victor Ulloa (foul) — 31
PIL: Fabinho (foul) – 32
PHI: Zach Pfeffer (serious foul) — 42
PHI: Sebastien Le Toux (foul) — 86
DAL: Ryan Hollingshead (foul) 90+1

Philadelphia Union FC Dallas
12 Attempts on Goal 11
5 Shots on Target 4
3 Shots off Target 6
4 Blocked Shots 1
5 Corner Kicks 2
20 Crosses 14
2 Offsides 3
12 Fouls 15
3 Yellow Cards 3
1 Red Cards 0
379 Total Passes 441
78% Passing Accuracy 82%
46.6% Possession 53.4%
66 Duels Won 54
55% Duels Won % 45%
9 Tackles Won 16
2 Saves 5
8 Clearances 34


  1. Former Season Ticket Holder Greg says:

    The best $20+ I didn’t spend.

  2. Positives: At least I didn’t have to drive in the snow to watch that performance.

  3. I took a personal day and made the 5 hr drive thur after work for the game Friday after my wife got us tix for my 30th birthday. When the game was posponed we left to come home and get the kids. Missed the match day experience but not the loss… We might SSM. It’s early still, I hope not!

  4. For a brief fleeting moment in the first 20 minutes this team had me hopeful. Signs of decent play…. then…. well…. They did what bad teams do…. lose.
    You know what I realize I’ve learned, among other things, this team is not good nor does it look like it has the ability to be good- also- I’ve truly gripped and trust my judgement completely that Maurice Edu is not a difference maker…
    …he’s just another player- halfway decent- and that’s all. Once in a while he will feign being a difference maker timely gol on occasion but in reality, it’s been a season and 3 games and he’s had little overall impact on the arc of this team. They are no better with him than without and that is an indictment on the club for making a wrong choice.
    When they’ve needed dire leadership he’s been unable to rally the troops. He’s scored very little. He’s redundant in attack – for instance, pushing Pfeffer from good space on multiple occasions- lacks hustle in transition defense leaving HUGE holes behind him- doesn’t see the final ball. I could go on. I’m really pretty over him. He’s a half hearted destroyer but so am I on Sunday’s at noon.
    I lobbied and tried to persuade myself he would rise to MLS prominence but he is what he is- an average and quite expensive player- who truthfully was surplus to goods until The Onion hitched their hope on him.
    Saw the replay 6 or 7 times and the Pfeffer elbow was really bad. He was out of control. Red card? Meh. 50-50.
    The best incarnation of this team will have Pfeiffer and Maidana on the field at the same time with Le Toux forced to the bench. Until then I don’t think the attack will grow or find footing. I’d love to see Zach and Maidana build a repore.


    • Agreed all through. I though Pfeffer looked pretty good out there and, like you, I was seeing reason to think a tie/win was not out of the question. Shame to see his chance snuffed so quickly.

      My litmus test: Would we be screaming if a guy comes across one of our boys like that? Yeah, I think that’s pretty solid (especially after all the wailing about the last two weeks’ officiating). Hate it, but red was probably appropriate.

      • I don’t think anyone who has seen the TV replay is questioning that red card are they? Pfeffer will probably get at least 2 more games tacked on to the automatic one game suspension. Deservedly. You’d get thrown out of an NHL game for that hit.

      • I just have no idea what he was thinking. And how could he even argue it? Plain as day. Dirty. Hope this isn’t a sign of things to come from Pfeffer.

      • I was definitely ready to be outraged by another referee decision, until I saw the replay. He says he slipped, but I didn’t see that.

      • i think you may be underestimating how crappy the field was today. Players were sliding and falling all over the place. Agreed it was a foul, but I don’t think there was any malice to it, it looked like he had his arm up and slipped. It’s hard to raise too much of a stink (though I think a yellow would have sufficed), but an additional suspension would be extremely harsh.

      • Red card was beyond appropriate. Hopefully, that was a one off for Pfeffer, but he should have just admitted that he made a mistake after the game instead of blaming it on a slip. No way he slipped…that was about as pre-meditated as I’ve seen in the way of cheap shots. What he did today was a disgrace to the organization, the league, and the game. No place for that.

      • old soccer coach says:

        Got there early enough to see how much water there was on the pitch on the shady side of the field. They were using roller squeegees right up to the “march on.” The slip was credible, as both teams were doing so in that general area of the field, the ball was travelling more slowly at ball carriers’ feet and passes’ weights were slightly affected. I especially noticed it in the second half when Ray Gaddis was trying to speed dribble through the area right in front of the Union bench.
        It was a red because it was a head shot; that Twellman became a TV commentator prematurely and that McBride sets off airport metal detectors with his skull says everything necessary about the appropriateness of the strict policy. The referee was trying to call it tightly from the beginning, starting the card cascade after the third or fourth obvious shirt tug when everyone could be assumed to be fully warmed up and at game speed.
        Pfeffer was beyond frantic with guilt at what he’d just done to his teammates and to the fans. It’s the first time he has cost his team a game; he knew it instantly, as did the whole stadium.

      • Good read. I certainly do not think it was flagrant. It was just bad.

      • Craig Strimel says:

        Bad foul, yes. Straight red, probably. But to say you know it was premeditated is crossing a line. No one can know it was a premeditated act unless he or she actually shares the player’s brain.

    • I Agree Completely with you Joel. Edu has a responsibility as captain to be able to take the game by the scruff of the neck, as well as his teammates and assert himself….He consistently DOES NOT DO THIS. He also consistently falls in and out of the game, and never sets a rhythm or tempo at all. Nogs is the better metronome in mid-field but Edu then tries to do more than his skill set allows.

      There is a really good saying my father uses: “No matter how much lipstick you put on the pig, it still is a pig.” That is our Union, a big old PIG. Hard running spastic soccer is not FOOTBALL! Yes there are times were you need to play ugly to grind something out, especially if you are up 1-0 on a perennial MLS Cup contender. However this club ONLY knows how to play Ugly for 90+ minutes week in and week out.

      Let me be perfectly clear, again I know this is the MLS, and I know the club doesn’t have the big spending bank roll. However, what we have seen as fans as our “product” on the pitch has been nothing but a disgrace. I am not looking to see the next incarnation of the Pep Guardiola “Tika Taka” or Rinus Michels “Total Dutch” 4-3-3 of the 70’s. However, I am looking for some semblance of actual footballing. Where is the ball movement, tempo, control….all of this is what Practice/Training is for correct? Does Jim Curtin just go “Ok Lads, what we will do is run around full tilt and whip a cross in.”

      I fail to see with some of the talent that is on this team that triangle passing and movement with composure on the ball is something that is a stretch. Though if it is a stretch, than this club truly is lost.

      The next four games will be tough, and the next 8 do not look good overall. If the Union lose 8 straight, Curtin is GONE! I would go as far as if the Union draw 4 and Lose 4, the Curtin era is come to a close.

      The next 4 matches will tell the story, 4 straight losses, the same lack luster footballing continues and I would completely blow up the Managerial Staff and do a serious overhaul.

      Still hopeful, but not hedging my bets with this team making the playoffs as they are.

  5. OneManWolfpack says:

    Honestly Dallas wasn’t that good today. Maybe it’s the blind optimist in me, but they all they did was take care of business – which albeit good teams should do. Perez was invisible and I thought the defense was decent.
    The red card completely ruined everything. On a lot of fronts too. Now Fred is our starting midfielder next week. Ridiculous. I am just beyond frustrated. Staying 11 on 11 I feel they had a real chance to win. But per usual they did something to F it all up. AAAHHH!!
    Oh and LeToux needs to take a seat. He has sucked in all three games so far. Hell, play Ayuk I don’t care. He was better. And why did Wenger come off and not LeToux?! Whatever… so irritated

    • AAAHHH!
      least the Classico tomorrow.

      • The Black Hand says:

        …and the Liverpool are going to take down United, in another of the games best rivalries.

      • United were awesome. Fellaini best player on the pitch.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Better than Mata? I dunno. I hate them both, equally, but Mata’s goals were beautiful and he was smart with his movement, all game.

      • Shared MOTM then. Mata was lovely- but to me Fellaini was Boss. In the air. On the ground. Inside. Outside. Didn’t matter. Liverpool had no solution for him.

      • Stevie G was pissed he didn’t start…….manifested itself with that awesome 49 seconds of laying people out!!!!!! That was hysterical……I was on the floor laughing……I was surrounded by Reds too….which made it even more perfect for this Gooner!

      • el Classico.

        triangles. triangles everywhere. triangles. look son, what do you see. triangles. triangles everywhere. perfectly spaced triangles.

    • I agree Dallas didn’t look that good, especially in the first period where I thought we had decent possession, and good passing. But even after Dallas went ahead, being up a man, they still didn’t look intimidating.

      Pfeffer goes into that challenge with his elbow high, which for the life of me I can’t understand. Yes it looked like he slipped or lost his footing, but that had relatively little effect on where his elbow ended up. I just don’t get it. The guy he was marking wasn’t taller than him. His elbow should be on its way down when he goes into that challenge, not nearly as high as it was. But he left it high, and it comes out looking like a dirty play (really stupid play). I have no problem with the red card.

      The defense. Ah the defense. As I see it now, the only part that should be kept is Gaddis. Vittoria is to slow, or out of position most of the time. White is just a horror show. Bad pass after bad pass. More horrible positioning. Sheanon left early, but before that only looked good going forward. And wow Fahbino. Terrible mistake on the first goal and just bad defending.

      Edu looked like he gave up after the red card. And I agree with Joel from above, he ran into Pfeffer’s spots, basically left Nogueira to cover in the back by himself, and generally looked average. Waste of money.

      Wenger looked more active today, without making any real impact. But he seemed to run out of gas in the second half pretty early, which is why I think he was substituted instead of Le Toux. And yes Le Toux looks bad. Very bad. Bad passes. Bad shots. Even bad fouls.

      Looks like its gonna be another long season for the U. Though I assume they’ll get hot around midway (maybe around the time of yet another coaching change). Only to fall short right before playoff time, once again dashing any hope we had of the postseason. I’m becoming more and more convinced this team will go nowhere till there is new owners and true management.

      • old soccer coach says:

        In regards Maurice Edu, no,he is not the second coming of Andrea Pirlo, Michael Carrick, or the Frenchman who played DCM behind Zizu in ’98.
        But consider two things, please, one from yesterday’s game and one from less recent history. Edu began the game focused on Diaz and Diaz accepted the challenge. After about ten minutes, Diaz moved to get away, to find space. I deliberately watched that match up, and Edu won it. Diaz affected the game only after he left Mo’s tender attentions. Secondly, cast back to prior seasons before Maurice Edu to our utter vulnerability to a big, powerful, skilled center midfielder such as Geoff Cameron was before he went overseas from Houston. We are no longer unable to contest the central channel in the midfield.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Mo just needs to play the #6 and leave it at that. His moments of B2B are awful to watch.
        However, Mo is one of the few Union players (ever) to put a shot on frame, from 20 yards out. So there’s that…

    • Wenger was exhausted by the time he came off. His body language was unmistakable.

      • A lot of the guys seemed gassed. Yes they played down a man for over half a match, but they shouldn’t have looked that tired. I question whether the team is actually fit. It really doesn’t seem so. Did they work at conditioning at all during the preseason?

      • I think the U came out flat after halftime. Dallas had a big, strong, fast team out there. I think they just wore down the U.
        Goddamn elbow. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING ZACH?

      • No conflicts with his U20 national team call up?

      • his body language was borderline ludicrous for a professional footballer too……….when he gave Pfeffer guff for that cross that Wenger didn’t even hit the lane hard for….I was pissed. Wenger tip toes to the lane…the pass gets tipped…and he’s mad at Zach……that was BS.

  6. How does anybody go about trying to defend Pfeffer’s card?

    It’s clear red, in my opinion, and clear intent. He’ll get 3-5 games tacked onto it, and rightfully so.

    Watch the replay.. The intent is there. The card was deserved. Shameful because for the first 20-30 minutes when we actually looked decent, he was the best player on the field. And then he makes a moronic mistake like that.

    • Because you can’t challenge the narrative that there is a vast PRO conspiracy against the Union.

      • One wonders. Three games – three affects by the whistle keeper.
        One could theorize this team’s Union name has been black listed related to labor dispute.

      • The only people debating the red card are Union fans. I’ve yet to see any neutral say it wasn’t deserved. Hard to blame the ref for doing his job.
        But hey, if that’s what you need to justify today’s performance, have at it.

      • Not me that elbow was absurd. I was just commenting on the relative officiating in the three game body of work.
        Having a touch of irony is all.
        Gotta find something to make a smile.

      • At this point I’m just hoping the disciplinary committee doesn’t get involved for anything extra.
        Too many absences, too little depth.

      • flat out straight red….I don’t know how you even begin to defend that…………”slipped”….thats just laughable. Again, I thought of a MLB pitcher telling the ump….”it just got away from me, it slipped” as he’s ejected for throwing a ball in someone’s ear!

      • I’m a Union fan and I absolute think he deserved it 100%

    • Union Fan, but as I said above in another thread, I think folks may be underestimating how sh**ty the field was today. Players were slipping all over the place. He should have had better control, he shouldn’t have had his arm up like that. It’s hard to protest too much on it but I really don’t there this was malice as much as the middle of the field was really, really slippery and he didn’t control himself well. If it had been a yellow, fine; as a red, sure, whatever, but I don’t think it merits extra games given the extenuating circumstances.

  7. Let me just say:



    I knew our wingers sucked and would be a problem the whole year.

  8. Ethan White? I didn’t like what I saw…again. (And apparently Mo Edu didn’t either.)

    Time for Marquez?

    • He’s so shaky. Another thing to bitch about- what is it with this team’s (in)ability to control the ball on the dribble. It is so bad- Wenger, Le Toux, Edu, The Striker, Gaddis and sadly to say Noguiera this afternoon. All of them (had) have the soft touch of a rusty anvil.

  9. Man, what an idiotic red card- on so many levels, the action itself and the long term implications. Unbelievable. So much for the debate on if he should stay/go with the U-23s. Have to hope he goes as it’s the only way he’ll get playing time in the next month or so.

    On a side note, many of us have been frustrated we couldn’t get the English to work on the Unimas games. Well, after listening to the English commentating on my computer today those complaints should be put to bed for good. Hate to bag on the play-by-play guy too much but I’ve heard better commenters calling high school sports on local access channels. The game stunk and with that guy randomly yelling at me, it just made me all the angrier.

    • Oh no the way to listen to that game was in espanol without question. I didn’t understand a lick of it but took them at their word completely. It just sounded like they knew exactly what they were talking about. Keep the SAP off next time. Fun as hell. Gol Gol Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooollllllll.

      • I’ve always watched the Unimas game in Spanish since I couldn’t get the SAP to work. Watched it on computer today and got the English. From now on it’s Espanol all the way!

    • The references to ‘PPL Stadium’ on the broadcast tell you all you need to know about the quality of the play by play announcer.

      • Guy’s name was Ramses something. I made a mental note- see him again and it’s an immediate “muting”, with extreme prejudice.

      • I’ve watched the two previous weeks broadcasts on UniMas, and while I love any chance to see soccer, these two make the experience painful. Might be time to learn Spanish.

      • The one thing I learned from the Spanish broadcast was Williams middle name is Antoine. They used guys’ middle names any chance they got. For some unapparent reason.

  10. The word that comes to me is: pathetic.
    Which makes me sad because I do not want my team to be pathetic. Yet, from the awful Lot A, to the awful design on the bathrooms, and the underperforming product on the field.
    I’ve moved past frustrated and settled on pathetic, albeit, the deeper part of the definition tree for the word.
    Full Definition of PATHETIC
    : having a capacity to move one to either compassionate or contemptuous pity
    : marked by sorrow or melancholy : sad
    : pitifully inferior or inadequate
    : absurd, laughable

  11. I thought they would lose, but not like that.
    For 42 minutes they looked okay, except for White. He never looked okay.
    Nogueira started making his angry dépêche-toi faces again. This is not a good sign.
    $11 for beer?

  12. The Black Hand says:

    Quick thoughts on the match:

    Dallas was beatable.
    Andre Blake needs to get here. M’bohli looked timid, at times. Might need to be spelled. Not sure McCarthy is the answer.
    Ray Gaddis…WTF…seriously, WTF!!! I have had your back but good god, man!!! Get your shit together!
    Fabinho…How the hell can you be Brazilian? That’s all I have to say about that.
    Ethan White is not a starting CB in the MLS, right now. Vitoria is on the fringe.
    Mo Edu did a few nice things. He’s wandering way up the pitch, though. It’s limiting Noguiera’s effect. Mo needs to stick to the DM and feed Noguiera the ball quickly.
    Poor Vince!!
    Somebody get Sebastien LeToux some new boots. The ones he’s been wearing should go for a dip in the Delaware. Sheeeeeeesh!!!
    Pfeffer looked kind of nice…until he removed himself from the #10 running. ( Fred is going to pop in and play smart, safe football, until Maidana comes back.) Zack is looking at some games. I can appreciate his physical play. He was trying to send a message…as is often seen in Europe. The problem was; Pfeffer clocked the dude in the jaw…instead of planting one in his chest (strong-yellow). Misfortunate, for Pfeffer and the club…
    Wenger showed glimpses…
    Was Fernando Artigualottalettersinthhisguysname playing??? The guy looked like him but…
    It’s a good thing that we have lots of depth…SHIT

    • This is about right.

      Crazy thing is all the matches so far were winnable despite some real sub-mediocre play. Union has had a pretty big dose of bad luck to help it lose to teams that really aren’t any better.

      • The Black Hand says:

        The Union 2015 season has been difficult to watch. Bad calls galore…but we really have shown poorly. Very disorganized, and that falls on Curtin. Our lack of depth has been completely exposed…and it’s only been three matches. That said, we should be at a VERY LUCKY 6 points…if not for terrible refereeing.

    • Have to disagree with you on Fernando. He ran his heart out. Did you miss in the second half when he tracked back all the way to our box? So me 2 other strikers in MLS that would do that.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I’ll give you that. He did run. I was poking at his ineffective striking…which isn’t all his fault. He sure did blow that header (Edu cross), though. It looked like a LeToux shot…from 10 yds out.

      • Moreno said he’d bungle a few in front of net. Which is fine to me, because I know he will eventually find the back of it. Not even PL strikers get it on target 100% of the time.

      • The Black Hand says:

        This is true…and actually he has buried quite a few in his short time here.

    • Aristeguieta? Really? He’s the only player after Pfeffer that carder that looked like he wanted to win and wanted to get a goal. He gave 100% all game, chased down the defense 90 minutes. I watched the game twice.

      Wenger, on the other hand, was uninspired all game. He would attempt the same “move the ball to my right foot and try to cut inside” thing each time he had the ball on the left, lose the ball, and walk back.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I watched a second time, as well. Nando’s efforts were enough to prove my assessment wrong. His work in the final third was sloppy, though,

  13. We’ve all bemoaned the fact that Pfeffer hasn’t gotten more playing time, but maybe his performance today was what the coaches expected of him all along: not that technically good, not that fast, not a great passer, not very smart. I suspect we’ve seen the last of the Zach Pfeffer experiment, and Curtain will try to loan him out. Trouble is, Curtain doesn’t seem to like Maidana much so not sure our #10 is supposed to be. In the 2nd half Nando was acting as both creator and striker – you could see him trying to figure out how to pass the ball to himself. Ridiculous. I won’t panic even though WSSM. But if we lose to Chicago (which is entirely possible) I’ll just give up on the season. What’s the over-under for the number of games into the season that Curtain gets fired?

    • The Black Hand says:

      I don’t think that Pfeffer showed that poorly. He looked damn fine on the play LeToux set up (If Wenger would have attacked the goal, it would have been a beautiful). He confident on the ball and that’s what you want in your #10. Pfeffer has some goods. I wouldn’t pass on him…yet.
      The Red…that was brutal and will probably get him banned for a bit. Over zealous attempt to send a message. His lack of composure has me concerned.
      Fred…you’re up

      • Yup. Yup.
        I’ve never had a bad day once in my life- try never to dwell on the negatives yet am a bona fide Philly Sports cynic so what does it say for how this season has started…. 2 terrible PK calls against the U. One terrible non PK for the U. Your best hope on attack is out. Your second best hope on attack, hopeful debutant taking the chance by the scruff and running with it showing all his potential, is out. We have 1 point when a good team would minimally have 4, and two shiny new toys sit atop the east and the team you play next can swap spots with you at the bottom of the table on a 6 point turn.
        Remind me again it is all going to be okay after only 3 games.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I can’t tell you that it’s going to be OK. In fact, don’t be shocked to see it get worse. Curtin is pitching a shit-show these days, my friend.

      • its ok….they are are shell of what they used to be. They are still relevant because they have 4 guys up front that can still do major damage…..RVP, Rooney, Di Maria, and Falcao. Van Gaul still wants a new back 3 that can play the system he wants and can trust them….

      • Brenden Rogers is also not the second coming. I have seen him screw up a lot of decisions over the past few months…..yesterday it was not starting Stevie G in essentially what is a derby for 4th place. The guy has been on fire the past two weeks….and you bench him against United? I don’t understand his love affair with Joe Allen either, kid is clearly in over his head at this level unless you hide him in the middle of the park……..

      • yeah dude….instead Wenger throws up his hands like a little baby and gives Zach $hit…….if he would have hit the lane hard and not pussyfooted into the box….its a goal.

      • Pfeffer is a technical, young baller who will be fine in this league. I never thought we would have to question what is between his ears….but thats the issue…..not talent.

    • Just some corrections, Pfeffer has the skill and ability to play and start in this league. The biggest problem I see is that he has trouble showing himself on the field. Every game he seems to get lost and can never find his way back to being effective within a match. On Maidana, Curtin knows he should be the starter and was planning on making him just that until once again he got hurt during training. Idk what is it but it seems this guy can’t play more than one game without falling to injury. Is it bad luck or is he’s not fit?

    • Ok, noob here, whats WSSM? We Suck So Much?

    • Yea.. I don’t know what Pfeffer you were watching, but for the first 20-25 minutes he was the best player on the pitch for either team.

  14. old soccer coach says:

    An excellent tool to analyze a player’s impact on a game is to remove him and look at the effect of the removal. Pfeffer did that, unfortunately. The contrast is created in part by being a man down, I grant you. Most intriguing to me was the apparent psychological impact on his teammates; they were as gut shot as were we fans. He had given them – and us – hope that we might actually beat Dallas.
    All of us who have played the game have played on wet fields and know how much more a wet field demands of the legs.
    Credit Jim Curtin for learning something about his squad in spite of demoralizing circumstances. He put Ayuk out there to find out if, as an 18 year old, he belongs on the pitch with a top flight team and a big fast physical defender. Look at tonight’s City Islanders tweet of their starting lineup in their Georgetown scrimmage for a possible clue to Curtin’s evaluation. The same tweet may tell you something of what he’s thinking about Catic and the youngsters who did not dress.
    All credit to Joel for thinking of how to put Pfeffer, Maidana and Wenger onto the midfield at the same time. The idea deserves further analysis once it becomes feasible in a few weeks.
    Blas Perez had little effect on that game; his marker was Steven Vitoria. Such was not the case last summer in Dallas in the Open Cup.

  15. The Little Fish says:

    Damn. That sucked. MLS should not make it so difficult for fans to watch the damn game. Total BS. And that game was just worst case scenario. The 2 spots we were most vulnerable blew up in our face. Losing Pfeffer AND Williams killed us. And then to watch Pedro Ribiero toss Vancouver defenders about like rag dolls only put salt in the wounds as Fabinho got torched. Not good. We need Fred to come up very big for us on Sunday. I think he’s got it in him. I really do.

    • Pedro. He’s had a direct impact in 2 of the 3 games played so far. But he wasn’t very good here. oh wait, that’s right cause when he saw much needed game time in Harrisburgh…. it was as a central defender — only to then be brought up to the big club and expected to then score as a striker– never once playing the position he is likely best at. But hey, we kept the guy who passes to the other team and gave Ribero a chance to make a difference on a team with Vision. Philosophy. Plan.
      Union Sense- — where the right hand and the left hand only know what the other is doing at the end of…. “where is thumb-kin. here I am here I am. how are you today sir? very well I thank you.”

  16. Can We Talk About Fabinho For a Second? says:

    So, remember when we protected him over Ribeiro?!?!?!?!?!??

    That was horrendous, awful, comical and insane. I’d rather see Aaron Wheeler at left back til Williams returns.

    Hey Front Offce: Show some Sak and drop him today. And then spend the Cruz money on a real left back.

  17. Ok I have one word that might help the Union a little…….MOVE!!!!!!!!! It blows my mind that this team doesn’t understand the concept of moving on and off the ball. The biggest example of this was our amazing and expensive captain Mr. Edu. I’m sorry but I’m sure Stoke was more than happy to get rid of this guy. So many times he was walking carelessly and just watching the game pass him by. Instead, he could have been moving into open spaces to collect a pass, there were plenty of opportunities. Edu take a seat. Let’s talk about another fan favorite, the great Le Toux. So three games and this guy acts like he’s never touched a ball in his life. Idk but to me that sort of raises a red flag indicating that maybe just maybe he shouldnt be starting right now. Oh wait, why would our coach make obvious decisions. Eric Ayuk should replace Le Toux right now. Ayuk should have started the last two matches. It was obvious in preseason that this kid had potential and the ability to play in the MLS. 18 year olds can do well in the MLS so that can’t be Curtins excuse. I always vouched for Fabinho bc he is pretty damn good when in the attack and disrupts players going at him but, his problem is he makes way too many stupid mistakes that can be avoided. Right now he doesn’t deserve to be the starter at left back. MBohli, our world cup phenomena probably could have got a touch on both of those week goals. They were hit pretty much directly at him without pace. That’s just my opinion. The bottom line is, is that Curtin should see these problems and address them. If he is or not idk. I do know that he isn’t teaching this team how to play with pace and movement at all. He doesn’t have the back bone to sit certain players. Oh and I would take Cruz or Hopp. Over Le Toux any day, oh wait, those two don’t really play here anymore. Curtin, make Nogueira your captain an try implementing movement on and off the ball and for Christ sake yell at these players, show them that you’re not Fing around, make them play for you.

    • Nogueira has to be miserable here. Every time he gets the freaking ball he either sees people standing around or actively moving away from him. Come to the ball! There were several points in the game where the Union got Nog the ball and just stared at him until he threw his hands up in disgust.

    • Edu is a terrible offender at not showing. At least three times yesterday one or two steps back gives a viable outlet to the winger allowing the ball to pivot through him. The whole club lacks ideas on using space, notably Gaddis yesterday- unsure what got in to him- once or twice he was nowhere to be seen on the right in the build of obviousness that the ball should be swinging out to him- but he wasn’t there.
      And creating passing angles? forget about it- often times they are presenting in a straight line. Infuriating and soccer101.
      This was on my list of things to rail about yesterday but got bumped when I realized the DM and is the root of my angst this week. Good call Union5.

    • The Black Hand says:


    • First Fabinho isn’t the starter. Second, Cruz over LeToux? In what alternate world do you see this? Hoppenot, I’ll take over LeToux, but never Cruz. Glad he’s gone. I do like the Ayuk idea. He at least looks like he has an imagination and an idea of what to do with the ball. As for movement, there was plenty in the first half. But it totally died after Pfeffer left. Again, I just don’t think this team is fit enough. Is Williams gut getting bigger or is it just me?

  18. OSC – I really didn’t appreciate any drop off in Union’s play when Pfeffer was sent off. We were actually the more threatening side for the remainder of the 1st half. In the 2nd half they scored two goals bc they were up a man and they’re a better team. I think all this time we’ve been waiting for Pfeffer to develop has probably been a waste… I hope I’m wrong.

    Becoming clearer every game that Curtin in over his head – I see no evidence he coaches these guys.

    The number of idiotic front office decisions that come back to haunt us is growing: trading up to draft Blake (who doesn’t get a chance to play ever) instead of drafting Mullens or Akindele, protecting Fabinho instead of Ribiero, letting Okugo go when our defense is so suspect, counting on Ethan White (who got burned a bunch of times, and didn’t seem to complete a single pass) instead of an actual CB. Rene is no where to be found, and Albright and Curtin and Sak are lost and in over their heads.

    The quality in this league is improving by the day, and the Union seem to be allergic to quality players and quality play.

    That game was so distressing and depressing.

  19. Straight red, doubt it was intentional, but definitely reckless. Hopefully he will learn from it.

    We were told Mbolhi would make big saves, rescuing points for us. Yesterday would have been a nice time to see that. Still waiting to see any difference from MacMath except their price tag.

    We were also told its very difficult to break down a team playing with 10 men. Dallas did not seem to have a problem with that in the second half.

    It’s only 3 weeks in, but where do you look for improvement? Will Ethan White suddenly learn how to pass the ball? Will Wenger learn a second move? Lack of depth was a weakness at the start, and 3 weeks in you are down 4 regulars due to injury/suspension? Plan A has broken down, does our rookie coach have a Plan B?

    I’m really afraid if Union do not beat Chicago next week they are winless into May. SKC, two with NYCFC, New England and Toronto. Anyone see 3 points there?

  20. Yes the season is a marathon, but that doesn’t mean you can stand still! Team stands still when we have possession, goalie stands still when he should come out, coach stands still and makes no adjustments after the first goal. ZP stands still on the line after being red carded. The season can’t be over in March, right? Right?!

  21. The Chopper says:

    Now I can start moving to the cliff with everyone else. There were some encouraging moments prior,to Pfeffer being sent off, but then that was that. Injuries, red cards, missed calls. No wins in three matches

    Bad things tend to happen to bad teams. And that we appear to be.

  22. Eoin Boyle says:

    I hate to be proved right when it comes to our situation.
    But, this just shows a complete club out of its depth. FO, out of its depth, Chris Albright, out of his depth. Jim Curtin, not out of his depth, but not far from drowning.
    The FO danced a dance with Meulensteen, and then because JC won a few games, went the cheap option. We are getting what we didn’t pay for.
    Meulensteen might not have had MLS experience that so many on here craved, but, is that such a bad thing? Albright had MLS experience, but not for the job he is in, neither Curtin.
    So, what happens, we are probably paying RM more as a consultant than he would have cost in salary. And, in that role he really is powerless, JC is the coach, and if you were him, you can’t let Meulensteen near the coaching, once he starts you will never have the respect of the players! They will see he is a superior coach, and JC will be forever undermined.
    So, why is he here???

    Well done again FO. It can’t all be Sak, he doesn’t fund it all. Sugar man and Graham and co have to front up as well.
    Be brave, demote JC to assistant to Meulensteen and kick start our season.
    And get Albright a mentor as well, but, I guess the money to do that went on the RM consultancy

  23. The Chopper says:

    RM is evaluating this team on a regular basis and reporting directly to ownership. If he feels that Jim Curtin. Is not up to it, he is letting that be known. RM had input on both the Vittoria and Fernando acquisitions.

    I was within earshot of him during a couple of the Florida training sessions. His assesment of players and skills is very blunt and non complimentary. He was relaying this to the Union hierarchy.

    I have a feeling he will impact this club in a public way before this summer is out.

    • Eoin Boyle says:

      I hope you are right. But, it’s a tough situation for him and JC. For JC it must be like having the Grim Reaper sat on your shoulder. The man who was lined up for your job as a consultant??? Only at PU

    • RM was actually in Florida? I had no idea he left Europe. My question is why he wasn’t the coach in the first place? Did he not want the job, or was it (more likely IMO) that the Union couldn’t afford his price tag? I’d say that after 5 yrs. this team looks like an expansion team, but that would be an overstatement if you looked at the two new teams this year. I was so looking forward to this season. Now I’m just looking forward to the owners selling the club. Hopefully that happens soon. (Not holding my breath)

  24. The SoB’s who contributed to the letter on MLS officials can’t be very happy with Pfeffer. They make a point of complaining about the officiating and then one of our own proves that the officials are actually pretty good and that some of the Union are brutes with little soccer skill.

    • What a bummer by Pfeffer. Here’s your chance son. Opps. It is disheartening and anthemic to the shade of jade that is this club…. game three. I know I know…game three and only six years….. well guess what, here’s my anthem…..
      “just a little pin prick. just the basic facts. can you show me where it hurts. relax. i do believe its working— good. I……….I..I….have. become. comfortably numb.”

  25. First…..Zach, stop with the “I slipped” stuff. You clocked that dude in a way that would make anyone who grew up playing in Fishtown, Bridesburg, or Kensington proud! WTF were you thinking? Second, Fabs…your the first Brazilian I’ve ever seen who receives the ball with his head down at his feet………if you learned not to do this at 12…you would have saw the guy closing down on you and not panicked…just kicking the ball into him…..again, wtf? Pretty wide open match the first 20 minutes…..I don’t want to remember anything after that………….

  26. What was worrying also from this supporters perspective….and very telling…was the body language and communication between the players. A lot of negative body language from Wenger, Nogs, Edu, and Seba. Wenger gave Pfeffer shit a few times on passes, Nogs by the week looks more checked out…….to me, this is more telling than anything. If its that noticeable on the pitch, the gaffer is not stamping his authority on the squad. Players giving each other crap directly correlates to gaffer’s control of the locker room….

  27. There are some very concerning signs so far, but it’s too early to abandon ship. This team should have 6 points right now and be right in the mix.
    Random thoughts:
    1) I really like Fernando – great fit for this team, strong work ethic, and I really hope he is patient through these early struggles.
    2) Vitoria seems like a decent add. White still scares me way too often.
    3) I still think we’re fine with Gaddis and Williams as our fullbacks. Not so much with Fabinho. It’s still hard to believe he was protected over Ribeiro.
    4) Jury’s still out on MBolhi. I still believe, but thought a great goalie would look a bit more confident going after those two goals versus Dallas.
    5) The criticisms of Edu feel overblown. I feel like an outsider looking in would quickly identify Edu and Nogueira as two of the strongest players on the U. Seems like there may be a learning curve with those two guys playing together, versus last year when roles were more clear in a Nogueira/Okugo pairing.
    6) Wing play is a huge concern thus far. Le Toux has always had flaws, but seemed to have a knack for finishing. He hasn’t shown that yet. And Wenger just doesn’t seem involved enough. With the midfield trio not being natural goal scorers, lack of production from the wings will make for a long season. Ayuk should continue to get some minutes – he does seem to have the skill and confidence to take players on at least.
    7) Maidana needs to play every second that he can. They’re a completely different team when he’s in the mix. Much more cohesive unit and the ball ends up in much more dangerous spots.

  28. There is a really good saying my father uses: “No matter how much lipstick you put on the pig, it still is a pig.” That is our Union, a big old PIG. Hard running spastic soccer is not FOOTBALL! Yes there are times were you need to play ugly to grind something out, especially if you are up 1-0 on a perennial MLS Cup contender. However this club ONLY knows how to play Ugly for 90+ minutes week in and week out.
    Let me be perfectly clear, again I know this is the MLS, and I know the club doesn’t have the big spending bank roll. However, what we have seen as fans as our “product” on the pitch has been nothing but a disgrace. I am not looking to see the next incarnation of the Pep Guardiola “Tika Taka” or Rinus Michels “Total Dutch” 4-3-3 of the 70’s. However, I am looking for some semblance of actual footballing. Where is the ball movement, tempo, control….all of this is what Practice/Training is for correct? Does Jim Curtin just go “Ok Lads, what we will do is run around full tilt and whip a cross in.”
    I fail to see with some of the talent that is on this team that triangle passing and movement with composure on the ball is something that is a stretch. Though if it is a stretch, than this club truly is lost.
    The next four games will be tough, and the next 8 do not look good overall. If the Union lose 8 straight, Curtin is GONE! I would go as far as if the Union draw 4 and Lose 4, the Curtin era should come to a close.

    The next 4 matches will tell the story, 4 straight losses, the same lack luster footballing continues and I would completely blow up the Managerial Staff and do a serious overhaul (like every season thus far).

    Still hopeful, but not hedging my bets with this team making the playoffs as they are showing they are no where the caliber needed to be in the playoffs.

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