Player ratings

Analysis and player ratings: Union 2-1 NYCFC

Photo: Earl Gardner

Last September, Vincent Nogueira had the U.S. Open Cup Final on his foot.

Driving into the box deep into stoppage time, the game level at 1-1, the French midfielder smashed a volley past Stefan Frei, a shot which would have brought Philadelphia its first-ever trophy. A buzzing crowd at PPL Park prepared to go insane.

It clanged, heartbreakingly, off the woodwork.

Not much has gone right for the Union since that day, the high-water mark of a 2014 campaign that ended in ruins. The 2015 campaign hasn’t been much better, a shambolic start to the season punctuated by a disastrous stoppage-time collapse at Kansas City last week.

On Saturday, Nogueira found himself in a similar position. Tied at 1-1, with a game the Union desperately needed slowly bleeding away, the ball fell to Nogueira at the top of the box.

This time, the Frenchman made no mistake.

It was an utterly massive goal, completely turning the mood at an increasingly grumpy PPL Park and finally earning the Union their first win of the year.

Nogs powers the midfield

It was fitting that the big goal should come from Vincent Nogueira, because even before the goal he had put in a man-of-the-match performance.

To date in 2015, Nogueira never looked as comfortable as he did last year. He played three games with Maurice Edu as his defensive midfield partner and one in the attacking midfield role. Neither was a position where he seemed particularly at ease.

With Michael Lahoud next to him on Saturday, though, the Noguiera of 2014 — buzzing about the pitch, winning the ball and finding one or two quick passes — returned to action.

The stability of these two in midfield anchored a strong defensive performance from the Union. Even though NYC FC saw most of the possession, they rarely threatened John McCarthy’s goal. The visitors only managed four shots on goal; not very impressive given their 64-36 possession advantage. Mix Diskerud managed just two passes in the attacking third, as Nogueira and Lahoud hounded the US international at every turn. The same treatment was offered to David Villa, with Maurice Edu largely taking him out of the game while Steven Vitoria filled whatever space was left behind.

It can be easy to forget with the core of Diskerud and Villa that NYC FC is fundamentally a collection of castoffs. With careful defensive attention applied to City’s stars, the Union were barely threatened in the first half.

Distribution disasters
not good enough

John McCarthy’s passing on Saturday. Too much red.

Where the Union continue to struggle mightily is their distribution out of the back. The chief offender on Saturday was John McCarthy, who displayed in his kicks the accuracy and distance that you’d expect from a high school punter.

I don’t mean to be unduly harsh on the debutant. I’m barely eight months older than McCarthy — I, too, remember watching Peter Pappas’s Kixx — and watching how he handled the circus surrounding his debut, I was truly impressed by his poise and maturity. That being said, the Union need to put their best goalkeeper on the field. And, given McCarthy’s wayward kicking, it might be only a matter of time before Andre Blake steps between the pipes.

also not very good

Union defense passing, first 15 minutes of the second half

But distribution wasn’t just McCarthy’s problem on Saturday. Sheanon Williams and Ray Gaddis generally turned in strong defensive performances, and both were able to get into the attacking half. They were, though, utterly unable to complete passes in their own defensive half, often immediately settling on a speculative long ball upon receiving a pass. The Union’s fullbacks need to be more patient, looking to work the ball around the park by finding either Nogueira or a centerback when they receive a pass.

New York’s strongest stretch of the game came in the 15 minutes following halftime, where they thoroughly dominated play and scored their lone goal of the day. Part of this has to do with the introduction of Khiry Shelton, who buzzed about attempting to disrupt the Union backline. If you take a look at the defensive passing chart from those 15 minutes, you see a whole lot of aimlessly blasted balls — the sorts of passes which could be immediately recovered by NYC and converted into more pressure.

Relieving pressure, like extricating oneself from quicksand, requires patience. Thrash about too wildly, and you’re eventually going to drown.

Substitutions — they matter!
if only we could fuse those players together

Sapong, Casey, Maidana: Not bad for 48 minutes’ work

As I mentioned in my column last week, Jim Curtin is curiously opposed to using substitutions before the 75th minute. Against New York, he was forced to throw C.J. Sapong on in the 66th minute after Le Toux was injured, and sent on Conor Casey for Eric Ayuk in the 72nd minute. Chaco Maidana entered the game for Zach Pfeffer in the 84th minute, after Curtin decided to leave Nogueira on the field. (A rare fortuitous decision for the Union, and also a very sensible one — Pfeffer had been largely invisible and was clearly laboring.)

The three substitutes played just 48 total minutes, but their influence on the game was immense. Sapong set up camp in the attacking third and went to work, popping up in and around the box and offering a direct threat to Josh Saunders. Casey was similarly physical, and his presence created persistent danger on crosses into the box.

Maidana, meanwhile, offered an immediate reminder of how vital he is to this team. Simply put, the Union have a viable offense when he’s on the field. The Argentine’s quality on the ball and ability to find pockets of space pulls defenses out of shape and helps bring the Union’s other dangerous attackers into play. He sparked one quality move down the left wing and had one blast at goal go just wide.

The Union’s moribund start to the second half was starting to recover by the time Curtin made his first change. Nonetheless, the team looked better with each substitution. Leaving it late worked for Curtin on this day, but the Union manager will need to think about getting more aggressive with his substitutions if he finds his team behind the ball in the future.

Turnabout is fair play

During Saturday’s contest, Mike Servedio and I were discussing how NYC FC’s strange home pitch affects their style of play. On Saturday, the blue shirts didn’t seem equipped to play on the flanks, the likes of Ned Grabavoy and Sebastian Velasquez putting in fairly anonymous shifts. With the return fixture coming up on Thursday, how will the Union — a team that relies on wing and fullback play — cope with the narrower confines of Yankee Stadium?

Jim Curtin mentioned postgame that he doesn’t like to make too many changes to a winning team. Assuming that’s the case, it’ll be interesting to see how the technical staff decides to integrate players returning from injury to the lineup.

The big question is the health of Fernando Aristeguieta. If he’s healthy, he’s gotta play, and the logical move is to put him up top in place of Le Toux. It doesn’t seem totally fair that one of Ayuk or Le Toux will have to sit while Wenger keeps his starting spot, but unless you want to throw Sapong wide he’s your best bet on the left. Sapong did make a case for minutes in limited action on Saturday.

The other question mark is at attacking midfield, where Cristian Maidana will need to be eased back into game action. Look for Chaco to start on the bench and come on if the Union are chasing the game in the second half.

Player ratings

John McCarthy — 5

Set against the standard of goalkeeping so far this year, McCarthy was outstanding. Set against the rest of the league, McCarthy was adequate. He didn’t look totally confident in his box, and was bailed out on a few occasions by Ray Gaddis and Steven Vitoria. Gets credit for not letting the emotion of the day rattle him, but his distribution absolutely must improve.

Ray Gaddis — 6

A good game for Gaddis, who neutralized any City attacks down his wing. Needs to do a better job of seeing and completing the simple pass in his defensive half, which would go a long way toward enabling the Union to consistently relieve pressure and reset.

Steven Vitoria — 8

His best shift in a Union kit, Vitoria was immense in the box and demonstrated excellent positional sense playing off Maurice Edu.

Maurice Edu — 7

Tasked with erasing David Villa from the match, Edu largely succeeded — though he lost Villa on NYCFC’s only goal. Edu and Vitoria should remain the preferred central pairing going forward.

Sheanon Williams — 6

The Union badly missed Williams while he was out with injury, and he played a customarily solid game in his return to the lineup. Combined well in the attacking half with Eric Ayuk.

Vincent Nogueira — 9

Man of the match performance, even before scoring the sort of goal that could turn a season around.

Michael Lahoud — 7

A solid complement to Nogueira in the midfield, Lahoud hassled City’s midfielders and cut out passes all game long. Though his big miss against KC still lingers in the memory, Lahoud’s overall performances the last two games have been extremely encouraging.

Zach Pfeffer — 5

Simply put, Pfeffer didn’t influence the game enough. In a role where his primary focus should be to attack, Pfeffer didn’t receive the ball in dangerous positions in the final third, nor did he put his teammates into dangerous positions with good passes. Should start one of the next two games while Maidana is eased back to full fitness, but needs to begin showing more.

Eric Ayuk — 6.5

Considered giving him a 9 for the celebration alone. The Cameroonian winger continues to impress — he gave poor Jeb Brovsky nightmares all game long with his speed and ingenuity on the ball. Showed good chemistry with Sheanon Williams. It’s hard to tell how long Ayuk can keep this up, but he’s staking a claim to regular playing time.

Andrew Wenger — 4.5

Wenger’s touch deserted him all game, and he drifted in and out of the action… yet he still found himself involved in both goals. Funny how that works sometimes. Gets credit for working hard to put in the cross that led to Nogueira’s game winner, but almost every other phase of his game continues to need improvement.

Sebastien Le Toux — 7

Playing in the lone striker role for the first time in a while, Le Toux put in a typically tireless shift. He offered defensive hassle, made dangerous runs to test the NYCFC backline, and put himself in a great position to set up the first goal. Left his heart on the field — or, at least, a disgusting amount of his blood. (Post-game, Seba was in typically good spirits, only having needed five stitches. Jim Curtin was less happy, calling the injury “gross.”)


C.J. Sapong — 7

Strong and physical, Sapong was everywhere in his 25 minute appearance. Frequently able to work the ball into promising areas of the pitch and use his size to hold off defenders. The masked man should see more minutes as he finds his place in the squad.

Conor Casey — 6

Casey’s biggest contribution to the match, of course, was his Brian Dawkins-esque collision with Josh Saunders which opened the net for Nogueira. But Casey looked sharp in his return to action, offering typically savvy play and working well with Sapong. A dangerous weapon to have on the bench.

Cristian Maidana — n/a

I don’t think 6 minutes is enough time to get a proper rating, but there’s no question this is a completely different offensive team with Maidana on the field. He has great chemistry with Nogueira and kept popping up in dangerous positions. Needs to stay healthy — I’d bring him off the bench in the 60th minute if the Union are trailing on Thursday, and target a return to the starting lineup against New England.

Geiger Counter

Jair Marrufo — 7

Called a good game. Probably should have stopped play before Le Toux bled out on the field.

Preferred starting XI for Thursday at New York Yankees (4-2-3-1)

McCarthy; Gaddis, Edu, Vitoria, Williams; Nogueira, Lahoud; Wenger, Pfeffer, Ayuk; Le Toux.


  1. This team seems to become 200 percent better the moment Maidana gets on the pitch. Suddenly passes start finding their targets and we begin to produce chances on goals. I’d say he must start every game, but perhaps he’s even better entering a match at the 60th minute.

    I’d give Wenger a whole extra point just for his work on delivering that cross in extra time that led to Casey’s air tackle of Saunders (maybe the Eagles have a roster spot open?) and Nogs’ goal. I agree his touch has been pretty bad, but he looked good in that moment.

    • Re: Wenger. Wasn’t the 4.5 already including that extra point? The rest of his game was 3.5 worthy.

    • I know I was calling for Wenger to be removed at the half. I understand that Maidana couldn’t go much more than he could, but that just enforces the need to have McLaughlin on the 18 not putting in yet another year with Harrisburg

    • Gruntled Fan says:

      Agreed on the Maidana point, hopefully he can start the next game as everything seems to start falling into place when he gets out there.

  2. With regards the game being stopped earlier before LeToux bled on the field, there was nothing wrong with how Marrufo dealt with it. It wasn’t a head injury, and even more LeToux was off the field so could have received treatment there. The ref and NYCFC had every right to go on with the match. It was actually a very clever time wasting thing LeToux did by walking to the middle of the pitch and sitting down. It broke their stranglehold on the game, and allowed us to get back into it.

    • At the time the injury happened, was it clear to the ref that it wasn’t a head injury? I had no idea – but I’ve got terrible eyesight and was all the way across the field. So it’s possible the ref knew Le Toux sliced open his arm and was bleeding out. But if not, that’s exactly why the match needs to be held up there – to ensure it’s not a head injury.
      And I’ll also stick by my comment elsewhere that Saunders was a dick for putting that ball back in play. One thing I’ve loved seeing in professional soccer since I started following the game in 2010 is the level of sportsmanship – putting the ball out of bounds for an injury, giving the ball back to a team that put it out, etc. What Saunders did, in my opinion, was the antithesis of that sportsmanship.

      • I believe I saw Saunders point at LeToux before he kicked the ball and Marrufo motioned for him to kick the goal kick. Even if he had kicked it out and LeToux (obviously injured) is off the field and it wasn’t an obvious head injury, Marrufo does not have to stop play. I really was surprised that the Union trainers weren’t running over to the corner. I guess it was heads up play for LeToux to get on the field then lay down again to stop play.

        That said, I’m surprised that MLS has not done something about the sharp edges on the top of the video displays. I remembers seeing another player (I think it was Drew Moore) a couple of seasons ago slice the palm of his hand wide open on the top of a video display. A real gusher. I guess we will need a neck slice to have someone think about putting padding there, or at least round the edges.

      • If so, then I’ll give Saunders a bit of slack. Maybe.

  3. Agree across the board for the most part. Wenger needs to find something. Glad his cross was integral to the goal, but he was largely absent.

    Pfeffer will prove to be a solid sub for Maidana, but it’s still Chaco’s postion. I really want to see more of Sapong. Can he start? Where do you put him?

  4. Ayuk should get an extra point for basically taking Diskerud out of the offense by forcing him to stay deeper to continually cover for him blowing by Brovsy. I thought early on that we might see the 2nd consecutive week of Ayuk forcing a LB change at the half

    • That kid has a bright future. He’s surprisingly composed with the ball, even though he’s moving a thousand mph. Fun to watch, good find by Curtin and crew.

    • I was impressed by how fast Diskerud was. There were at 2 occasions that Mix ran down Ayuk and shut him down. I guess I didn’t realize Mix has some pace.

      • Jim Presti says:

        Diskerud is very, very quick and has great vision. He just needs to get a bit stronger on the ball.

    • +1 Ayuk was once again very impressive. Should have at least 7 points in the score.

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    I would actually lower the numbers for the defense and it ties in with one of the main points of the article, McCarthy’s passing. As Curtin mentioned in his press conference, the team was feeding him some very bouncy back passes. Given that he was also being pressured by the NYCFC forwards to get rid of the ball quickly, a number of his poor clearances were the direct result of how he received the ball from his defenders.

  6. Agree on most of the ratings, except le toux. After watching Nando for weeks, Le a Toux just didn’t have nearly the same quality at striker

    • Agree that le toux is not near the quality of nando from a pure striker standpoint but at least given a through ball/breakaway he won’t get run down in 6 steps.
      nando is slow. I don’t think anyone even the staunchest le toux supporters have truly ever believed him a technical genius, but, what he can do is run tirelessly and when he does that well he opens spaces and stretches the other team. paired with nando he would give space and time for a slower but much better striker to fill in behind and score.

      • I think a major reason he got run down in the KC game was because of that slight tear in his hammy that he apparently played 2 games with. I mean yes he isn’t by any means a burner but he isn’t as slow as he made it out to seem in the KC match

      • i think it was his quad, not his hamstring

      • I agree i surprisingly really like Lahoud in that spot. Nogs just seems more comfortable, like he can play the game he likes to play other than trying to share that midfield with edu. Lahoud has really impressed me the past 2 games, I’m over the missed shot in KC, Seba should have buried that as well.

      • The Black Hand says:

        It’s amazing what a little space does. Lahoud keeps it simple…’get ball, move ball’. Edu wanted to be the show…and erased Noguiera by holding the ball and taking his space. That said, we need a #6…no offense to Lahoud.

      • BH – If they can improve the position without breaking the cap, I’m all for it. If we have to stick with Lahoud for the short term – say, all of this season – I can live with that. Mike Lahoud is a “good enough” player to hold that spot in this league. (And I’ve said similar even before his showing the past two games, for whatever it’s worth.)

      • The Black Hand says:

        I agree. Michael Lahoud is not a bad player. He’s a smart footballer and he can motor. He knows his role and he does the job. We could do worse. That said, we could do better. In fact, we had better (AO). The main thing lacking, with Lahoud, is vision. Michael is a safe player, but he does not look to spark positive movement. As for this year, I think that Lahoud is the guy. We have neither the money or the FO capable of improving that position. We just better pray that Lahoud stays healthy, because Brian Carroll can not help this club in any way, as a CDM. If we move Edu up; the back line goes to shit and Edu really wasn’t a good fit, to begin with.
        It is frustrating to see how paper thin this club has become.

  7. I thought Seba looked much better up front than he has on the wings. Not the quality of Nando, but he seemed to be more comfortable and moved himself into better positions. Offside too many times, but I thought it was a better performance from him than his previous outings. I would keep him up top alongside Nando, as he hasn’t shown me a reason to keep him on the wing.

    Edu was our best midfielder before he moved back, but he’s been our best CB since the move. And if starting Lahoud allows Nogs to run free, then start Lahoud at D-Mid every game, because the team is better and more fun to watch when Nogueira runs the midfield. The team looks much less erratic with those 2 on the field, which says a lot given the ending in KC and the goal against NY. As for Pfeffer, he played well enough to start again, but if Maidana is healthy he should go on Thursday.

    That win finally got me excited again, because they finally showed me what I thought they were capable of. I expect NY to come out firing on Thursday, so a strong performance, even ending in a draw, would be a big step in the right direction.

    • I agree i surprisingly really like Lahoud in that spot. Nogs just seems more comfortable, like he can play the game he likes to play other than trying to share that midfield with edu. Lahoud has really impressed me the past 2 games, I’m over the missed shot in KC, Seba should have buried that as well.

      • +1 They (Nogs and Lahoud) seem to have better chemistry than the other combination (Nogs and Edu).

  8. Peter, I think most of these ratings are too high, inflated artificially by the joy of winning a match. Until Nogueira scored that goal, our team had virtually disappeared for the second half, allowing NYCFC a shocking amount of possession, blasting long ball after hopeless long ball. I loves me some Nogueira but both he and Pfeffer were invisible from minute 45 to about minute 80, with only CJ Sapong providing some life for the offense in the latter half of that time. He deserves a 6.5 or 7 at best. Le Toux also deserves no higher than a 6. I do agree that our defensive work was quite stout, for which all 6 of our rear guard players can take credit, especially the CBs. On the other hand, I’d give Ayuk an even higher score — in addition to giving Brovsky fits, he repeatedly got back on D and broke up passes.

  9. My observations on NYCFC:
    1) Diskerud was invisible offensively, but he is a hell of a defensive player.
    2) I’ve watched NYCFC multiple times, and have yet to see Nemec do anything worthwhile. On the other hand, that Kyrie Shelton kid shakes things up hugely whenever he gets on the pitch. I don’t know why they don’t start Shelton — either up top, or on the wing (with a formation change if needed).

  10. Nando – 10. He doesn’t even have to play.

  11. At the risk of getting myself banned from commenting for life, what about Fabinho in the LW position, in front of Gaddis? I feel like Wenger is getting the start because there are very few options on the left side.

    Fabinho has always been better offensively than defensively. With Gaddis behind him, his lapses diminish in relevance.

    I don’t know if Ayuk, Sapong, LeToux or anyone else can play on the left wing, but we need to do something about it.

    • The thing we could do about it is switch formations. If you play a 4-2-2-2, you have Nando and Le Toux up top, Maidana and Ayuk/Pfeffer at attacking mid, Nogueira and Lahoud at D-mid.

      • It might work, but I don’t see Curtin doing a 4-2-2-2. I also want Sapong in there. I think that he’s better than LeToux (even considering how well LeToux played on Saturday.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Too narrow. Gaddis isn’t comfy (offensively), on the left flank.

      • 1) Several of these players will drift out wide to find space (Le Toux, Maidana, Nogueira, Ayuk).
        2) If we don’t have someone to perform reasonably on the left wing, then we’re not getting width to the formation anyway, now are we? So unless Wenger kicks it up, or we have someone else to play there, we’re kinda stuck with an effectively narrow formation anyway.

      • The Black Hand says:

        1) True…but players drifting out wide, and not playing wide, keep the pitch tight. That means that we will have to play smart, quick, short passes (we don’t do that).
        2) Curtin needs to get Wenger involved more in the matches. Get him touches, so that he can play his way out of this funk. The club’s tactics (boot the ball as far as you can…then pray something good happens) haven’t played to Wenger’s strengths (possession). That is on the manager, as well as the player.
        3) How the hell do we not have another option on the left flank??

    • Don’t worry. Your comments, while mentioning Fabinho (and not adding to the plans of some to fire him into the sun on a rocket) are not grounds for banishment.
      To get banned, you must make some disparaging remark about Amobi Okugo.

    • pragmatist says:

      I think Wenger played very well before the first goal Saturday. Up until that point, he was making the right plays and doing “Wenger stuff.” But his heavy touch came back almost as soon as that ball went in the net.
      He recovered, along with the rest of the team, around the 60:00 mark.
      All of this is to say, please give me the potential of Wenger over the 4,567 crosses that Fabinho will play to no one all game long.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Jimmy McGlaughlin deserves a shot before Fabinho. He seemed to do well during preseason but has only made the 18 once in season, off the top of my head.

  12. I thought Williams lost Villa during the NYCFC goal, when watching the replays. Williams was next to him after that nifty back-heel pass, then was caught ball watching when Villa started moving toward net.
    I would’ve very much preferred to see Wenger come out rather than Ayuk – though of course Wenger proved me wrong by being so integral to the winner. He did a great job to fight into the box and then get the cross off with his left foot.
    To the guy in the section next to mine yelling at Sapong to “take off the stupid goggles and maybe your play will improve” – you, sir, are a bloody idiot.

    • comment of the week, and it’s only tuesday. wait. monday.

      • Hi praise indeed. I assume it’s because of the numbskull in the section next to me. If so, I couldn’t believe he was ragging on Sapong about the face mask…

      • anytime the words, ‘sir’ and ‘bloody idiot’ find themselves in the same sentence- I swill.

    • I actually thought Wenger was most at fault on the goal. He was late running behind his man, who received the through ball into the box for the very good initial chance on goal. The initial save took an unfortunate bounce towards Villa. The dangerous ball was the diagonal, penetrating ball to the right to start the sequence.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Both Scott E and John Ling are accurate in their criticisms if you look at replays on highlights in slow motion. Wenger let Josh Williams get completely inside him by being entirely unaware that Williams was making a run. And then, after delivering the ball wide and beginning a near post run, David Villa stopped and stood to avoid being offside. Williams immediately stopped, also rather than getting goal side of Villa. Hence Villa was onside and unmarked. Memory says Edu had gone to the goal line to cover McCarthy.

      • Jim Presti says:

        That play was not on Edu. Both Wenger and Williams. Edu went to the far post to cover for McCarthy. Wenger let Josh Williams through and Williams stopped tracking Villa

  13. Agreed with the change as soon as Maidana comes on. I felt like I was watching a completely different game.

    I will be interested to see how Curtin deals with rotating the squad with these next two games. If I remember correctly, Hackworth did not seem to do so well with that concept.

  14. I’d go up a point each on Edu and Williams. Villa was parked on their side of the field most of the day and they kept him very quiet. Physical without taking dumb fouls (can only recall one in a bad spot) and in good position throughout. Villa got his goal, but off of a rebound and friendly bounce in his direction.

  15. Agree with ratings, and agree perhaps a bit inflated by the W, but not a big issue. Clean start from the Valdes/MBolhi Era – know that Carlos is beloved but it seems Sak’s desire to get some post World Cup pizzazz led to extremely poor player acquisitions – by Sak (sorry, Jim but we appreciate you falling on that grenade). Finally cleaned out with some positive additions this winter/spring, which I will credit to Jim/Chris (Rene? who knows). Like a dark cloud moving off to the horizon … a nice run of results the rest of this month and Union are back in it.

  16. The Realist Brian says:

    I am getting tired of the lack of distribution from Vittoria. Any bit of pressure and he lumps it forward nearly every time. Gaddis and Williams are guilty of it too. Any time we kick up field, we lose possession, and it is maddening to watch as a team like NYCFC reload and attack. Curtain needs to do a better job at coaching possession with these guys, and Maidana will help having someone who can possess the ball with Nogs out there. I am glad he will be back, and I look forward to him tearing it up. But the long ball to no one shit has to stop. Painful to watch.
    Wenger needs to get some confidence. The dude has the skills and the physicality to make things happen. Sack up, man. And stop dribbling out of bounds.
    What was Curtain thinking when he was subbing out Nogs?? I am glad he changed his mind, but Vincent should be on the field at all times. AND IT IS CRIMINAL THAT THE SOBS DON’T HAVE A CHANT FOR HIM. HE IS THE BEST PLAYER ON THE TEAM. TIME TO APPRECIATE HIM MORE. End rant.
    Other than a few bad passes, Pfeffer looked good as well. I like his game, and his composure on the ball is great. Keep it up, Zach.

  17. The Realist Brian says:

    And on final point- Can the Son’s of Ben come up with some new, original songs? They are beyond lame with their rendition of “I just can’t get enough” that they repeat 30 times at the beginning of games. Get some creativity and originality, and sing something different from the radio. You guys are replete with the mob mentality of lemmings. And create a song for Vincent, for the love of Pete.

    • +1

      You hear the same stupid melodies at every other MLS match. Would really like some new, original material. It’s gotten real stale.

      • Hezekiah Ezekial Petershwim says:

        They tried to. Nobody knows any of the new songs because they don’t read the damned newsletter. So its back to “Can’t Get Enough” for 8 minutes every match.

      • Hmm. I’m not an SOB member but I often elect to sit in the River End (like this past weekend) and stand and sing and get the full experience. I’d also heard the same thing about new songs but didn’t hear many being tried earlier in the season.
        Couldn’t they have just taped song sheets to the seats? Love the atmosphere, but would like to make it uniquely Union instead of using the same songs as everyone else and just subbing “Philadelphia” and “Union” when appropriate.

      • i like when they sing biz markie

      • The Black Hand says:

        We need some Biz’ Beats!

    • The Black Hand says:

      I have been pushing for some ‘Hall n Oates’ for years…no one listens…I can’t go for that!

    • I agree with this. I heard LA singing a song about Alan Gordon, and we don’t have a song dedicated to anyone? other the hey Casey eff someone up… I thought SOB were supposed to be one of the best supporter groups in MLS I feel like they’ve gotten lazy. oh and the tifo game was real weak this week. New songs, figure out a way to make people read newsletters and learn new songs don’t just get lazy and give up!!

    • I feel like Casey’s new song should be Miley Cirus “Wrecking Ball” after his hit on Saunders..

      He came in like a wrecking ball…
      All he wanted was to box you out…
      Nogueira kick that f*cking ball…
      So we can go to..the bu-u-u-fet
      Go to…the bu-uu-uu-fet

      If SOB would like me to write more songs, I’d be more then happy to!

  18. WestmontUnion says:

    Good report PSP. Definitely agree with most of your ratings, except for Wenger, Ayuk and Williams. Wenger and Williams deserve lower ratings. Ayuk deserves higher.

    Wenger was stranded on an island of irrelevance (such poor positioning, and doesn’t know how to work himself into the game). He should try make runs into the middle when he doesn’t have the ball, or working harder to provide defensive cover back, and then receive the ball earlier in the attack. He does neither!

    Williams doesn’t work hard enough, and bc he’s lazy he’s constantly putting in last ditch tackles. If he was fitter, and covered more ground, he’d be a good player in the MLS. Until then, I’m eager to see Wenger change position and take his spot (thinking he can be Brek Shea, without the douche haircut).

    Ayuk deserves higher rating because he draws so much attention. This is so valuable in football. He makes opposing players change their games, change formation/positioning. He also creates set pieces because he’s fouled a lot or gets corners. He has to start going forwards, with Sapong (or Maidana or Le Toux depending on formation) playing on the other wing.

    Another point I wanted to mention is Lahoud’s play. He was a huge surprise because he’s been here a while and always disappointed in the past. Or maybe he wasn’t deployed effectively or given a chance. Either way, playing the selfless, hard working, conservative DM could mean he’s a regular starting alongside Nog until the summer transfer window presents a possible other option at the position. Lahoud’s ‘predictable and dependable positioning (unlike the free roaming Edu in CM) allows Nog, Maidana, Ayuk to attack, cover more ground going forwards, and move more freely, which all make for a more effective and entertaining Union. I have high hopes for this midfield on Thursday, if all four can start. I’d like to see Sapong (or Le Toux) replace Wenger.

    Overall, I am more excited today than I’ve been all season, not just because of the win, but because Lahoud, Vitoria, Pfeffer, Sapong all look serviceable and all look like they’re going to be able to add something and compete for minutes this season. That is a big plus, as I was worried that we’d be reliant on Carroll, Casey, Fabinho, Fred and White for depth this year.

    • Just to second your comments on ayuk. He was coming up my side of the field in the first half. It was absolutley excellent how well he toed the line with significant speed beating 2 or three guys several times. give him a few games and crosses and runs will adjust and this part of the attack will improve significantly. I joked with several in my section he is like adu without all the worthless gisticulation and self adulation.
      I know its early but I would be happy if we could just try and not screw up the developement of ayuk and pfeffer, get rid of mbohli and play some enjoyable soccer. I don’t need playoffs this year just a clear plan. maybe thats me wishing. i know sak will screw it up.

    • Ayuk’s play improved after he realized the Ref wasn’t going to call NYCFC for their physical play. He got knocked down once or twice, and got taken down with an arm-bar; all without a call. After that, he put on the afterburners, and put on a display of ball-control I’m going to love watching more.
      If Ayuk, Nogs and Chaco get on the field at the same time, and get on the same page…the MLS will take notice.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I disagree on Williams being lazy. He was coming off an injury AND expected to help shut down Villa, so I can understand not being 100% match fit.
      Ayuk is fun to watch but also needs to learn a little. Several times he was able to beat one or two guys only to be stripped by the next. He still has a ways to go on learning when to pass the ball.

      • +1.
        I am no Williams apologist but I thought he was pretty strong this week all things being equal. I think David Villa’s movement is a handful. I watched him the whole game and he is a sneaky bastard.

      • Bastardo astuto.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Sometimes we forget how good David VIlla was. He was close to being THE striker, for a minute. Even waning, the only one close to him is Keane…also waning. Real footballers are real good…and David Villa is the real deal…and I hate him for it.

  19. I don’t think you gave Pfeffer enough credit. He looked good and involved in the first half, he was making good passes. I agree he disappeared in the 2nd half, as did a few others.

    I also agree that Curtin needs to use his subs sooner. It was obvious the U was getting outplayed at the start of the 2nd half, action needed to be taken. If Letoux hadn’t have gotten hurt the first sub likely wouldn’t have happened for another 5minutes, at least.

    With games on Thursday and Sunday Curtin will need to manage his line-up well and get some key players a little rest.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Yes, but remember that all three of his moves were with players returning from injury, Sapong has been available the longest, but is still not 90 minutes fit. Casey is old and ’twas his first game back. That Maidana was even available for ten minutes was a surprise and a risk. The Wednesday presser suggested he was unlikely to make the 18.

      • The Chopper says:

        One thing I will give Curtin credit for, is he has not for a moment used the insane combination of early injuries and suspensions as an excuse for the poor early results.

        But the team already has lost Sapong Maidana, Williams, Casey and Noguiera to injury and Pfeffer and Fred to suspensions. That is pretty much 1/3 of the first 20.

        As we start to see all the bodies return to the field and the development of Vittoria (who is finally seeing regular minutes after a year of sitting on ice) and the growth of Fernando, the surprise of Ayuk, it is evident that there is talent on this roster. And it is young talent with their best years in front of them.

        Certainly there are holes to be filled and the jury is out on the coaching, but it may not be as bleak as we thought.

  20. Great article as always. I however disagree with the ratings of McCarthy(5), Ayuk(6.5) and the Ref(7!?).

    I was at the game and I noticed that while McCarthy’s distribution was poor his goalkeeping was not. He kept it together against David Villa, Mix and the likes of NYCFC and posted some decent saves. I would have given him a 6, IMO.

    Ayuk had a great game. He won the ball in NYCFC’s half often and showed good skill and pace to get around/utterly rip apart NY’s defense. He combined well to finish off LeToux’s cross (even though Pfeffer was credited with the goal). I would have given a 7.5.

    The ref IMO was awful. He swallowed his whistle at almost every possible foul and all the players took advantage of it. About midway through the first half one of the NY players looked like he swung and connected an elbow on Ayuk’s head. It was right in front of my section. Remember the FC Dallas game where Pfeffer got a red for a challenge similar to it. Speaking of Pfeffer, he nearly got his nose broken by a high boot from one of NY’s players. Again no call. Even our players started to take advantage of the lenient referee. Williams hauled down one of their players without making contact with the ball. No call. Finally the ref booked someone, unfortunately it was Lahoud. I think the ref was far to lenient and one of the players could have gotten seriously hurt from a foul. i would have given the ref a 2.

    Just as a side note I would like to mention how appalled I was at Saunders (NYCFC keeper) for not telling his team to kick it out for the injured LeToux. He was bleeding pretty heavily and for all Saunders knows, severed an artery and is dying before his eyes (bit of an exaggeration i know but still). LeToux wouldn’t have gotten treatment soon had their not been a crappy pass from one of their midfielders that went out. Also when will the advertisement boards get padding or rounded edges.


  21. Vincent oh Vincent, Mr. No-gueir-a

    Put up a through ball for


  22. Eric Grote says:

    On a side note: At the game on Saturday, I took my daughters (4 and 7) to the family bathroom at halftime. After weaving through the packed crowd, we arrived at the bathroom to see 3 NYCFC fans (all male in their 20s or 30s) standing in line on their phone. I asked if they were in line. They said yeah. I told them this is a family bathroom, they responded without looking up that they are family. The smelled the smoke starting to come out of my ears. Another family arrived, the Dad carrying a baby, the mom carrying a toddler. She started giving it to the arrogant pricks right away. “This is a family bathroom! You think your better and more important than the little girl behind you?!” Referring to my daughter.

    Meanwhile, the first jerk went in the bathroom, my 7 year old is doing the pee pee dance, so I make up my mind I am just going to cut in front of these guys. As I do Union security walks by and the mother gets his attention. He tells the jerks to take a hike. The 3rd jerk comes out, I go in.

    I spend 30 seconds wiping and cleaning off the piss on the toilet seat from the first jerk while my daughter does the pee pee dance some more. My girls finish and we leave. The family behind us tells me that the 3 jerks got kicked out. Good! Then I hear how one of the jerks pushed the husband. The same guy who was holding a baby no more than 3 months old.

    What your life must be like for you to push and endanger an infant is beyond me. Its one thing to be an arrogant jerk, another to push someone at a game, but it is sub-human to push someone holding a baby. Words don’t do it justice.

    So for anyone going up to NY on Thursday, be loud, be proud, be supportive, but don’t cross the line like NYCFC fans did on Saturday. We’re all better than that.

    • I’d like to say only a New Yorker but that just wouldn’t be true. Sadly or maybe actually thankfully, it wasn’t for the assholes in this world, we would never know altruism.
      By the way, I have elevated the pee pee dance to an art form.

  23. So were we fortunate to have Casey not called for a foul on Nog’s goal? Saunders didn’t protest, but I swear I’ve seen Casey do that before (a few times actually) and get called….

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