Player ratings

Player ratings and analysis: Union 0-3 Vancouver Whitecaps

Photo: Courtesy of Vancouver Whitecaps

Brace yourself. It’s time to analyze another Philadelphia Union match that started out promising and devolved into the depressing inevitability of unnecessary mistakes and underwhelming individual efforts.

Click to play.

Click to play.

And to be clear: It is not fun to write about these utterly deficient Union performances. There is no joy derived from sitting in judgment of other human beings as they scuffle along, very publicly displaying few of the talents we know them to be capable of. But we do it during the good times and we must during the bad as well.

Another fast start

Once again, the Union came out with energy and the semblance of a plan. Attacking up the left, they put together an early passing move that was intricate, movement-oriented, and involved more than two players. It was fun to watch!

VAN incomplete passes mins 1-25 (L) and 26-45 (R). For the first 25 minutes, the Union forced the Whitecaps into bad passes. After that, they failed to pressure as a unit and the Whitecaps were untroubled.

VAN incomplete passes mins 1-25 (L) and 26-45 (R). For the first 25 minutes, the Union forced the Whitecaps into bad passes. After that, they failed to pressure as a unit and the Whitecaps were untroubled.

The Vancouver midfield was disjointed, with Mattias Laba forced wide to cover and Russell Teibert’s youthful aggression leaving spaces. As Philly had done against Columbus, they were forcing a good team to play fast and ugly.

The Whitecaps’ wheelman, Pedro Morales, exerted no influence on the match; the exciting wingers were largely neutralized as a result.

And in the 26th minute, Philly had the chance their play deserved. Eric Ayuk’s deflected shot fell to Andrew Wenger two yards from goal. And in true 2015 Union fashion, Wenger donked the ball into a diving David Ousted. Good Union play in back and in midfield had allowed the offense a rare opportunity to let the team play with the lead and play through a strong shape and counterattack. But no.

VAN shots mins 1-24 (L) and 25-45 (R). After the first Whitecaps goal, Philly's defensive system fell apart.

VAN shots mins 1-24 (L) and 25-45 (R). After the first Whitecaps goal, Philly’s defensive system fell apart.

Then Pedro Morales scored from a defensive error and a lucky bounce off a good tackle. And the Union, for all intents and purposes, folded. They exerted no pressure on the Whitecaps after the first goal and gifted the second to a good striker who got a quite favorable call.

This is the big problem: Even if Maidana’s back pass isn’t facepalmingly atrocious, and even if Ethan White just tries to clear the ball instead of putting things into the referee’s hands, the Union were not going to score. They had zero shots between Vancouver’s first and second goals and only one successful pass into the final third. The Whitecaps were cruising after spending the first 20-25 minutes unable to deal with Philly’s tactics. It all fell apart so quickly.

Pedro Morales passing mins 1-20 (L) and 21-45 (R). Union turnovers gifted Morales the space he couldn't find early. And he took full advantage.

Pedro Morales passing mins 1-20 (L) and 21-45 (R). Union turnovers gifted Morales the space he couldn’t find early. And he took full advantage.

Morales’ slow start, slick finish

Pedro Morales makes the Whitecaps tick. And for twenty minutes, he was largely minimized by an organized shape that sent Zach Pfeffer storming up to press whenever the Chilean was on the ball. The rest of the midfield ensured that Laba and Teibert were forced to play square, which meant that whenever the Whitecaps got forward, the Union was organized and forced long shots.

But Union turnovers began granting Morales the space necessary to pick apart the visitors. In the 28th minute, a Marquez pass was headed down to Morales in the center and he took multiple touches with no pressure before releasing Techera down the right. Two minutes later, Morales again had time and sent Manneh through on the left. The Philadelphia defense retreated and never regained shape.

Though White's curiously soft defense on this throw is notable, it hardly stands out on a play where everybody is going through the motions. Click to play.

Though White’s curiously soft defense on this throw is notable, it hardly stands out on a play where everybody is going through the motions. Click to play.

Why?

What exactly happened that turned the Philadelphia defense from an organized shell into a group of individuals chasing shadows?

If there is a unifying reason, it is that the midfield/striker defensive pressure and the way the defense plays ceased complementing each other. Philly’s defensive pressure appears designed to force other teams down the wing into a trap between the fullback and winger. When the shape is set up, it works fairly well. Ayuk and Gaddis can gang up on a wing player and force him backward into the waiting arms of Aristeguieta and Maidana.

When the team does not have time to form its shape after a turnover, however, the fullbacks are still following wingers up the pitch, breaking shape with the central defenders. When the opposition moves the ball side to side, the wingers end up chasing play instead of holding shape, and the fullbacks end up high but without a trapping partner. Teams can easily play small triangles by sending over a central midfielder or easily catch the Union out by balls into the corners.

And it really is shocking how often Philly is undone by a simple ball to the corner. The aggression of the fullbacks leaves space behind, but when the press is working, teams do not have time to pick the pass out. When the press breaks down — in other words, when there are a bunch of players chasing as individuals — good ball movement creates the space needed to pick out those corner runs.

After his poor header led to Morales' opener, White was at sea. Click to play.

After his poor header led to Morales’ opener, White was at sea. Click to play.

It’s not all Ethan White’s fault

The odd part is that the Union have not adjusted all season. This is lack of adjustment is particularly noticeable in the play of Ethan White, who has been victimized repeatedly this season when isolated on the wing.

White is not a terrible soccer player. He is not even a terrible defender. He’s adequate with flashes of above-average; he can be efficient and competent. The Ethan White that looked like a perfectly serviceable central defender in 2014 was not a mirage. At full confidence, White deserves to be on a roster. But the book is out on him in MLS, and both White and the Union coaching staff have not adjusted.

White and Marquez don't communicate, leaving White guarding nobody and creating a chance off a simple cross. Click to play.

White and Marquez don’t communicate, leaving White guarding nobody and creating a chance off a simple cross. Click to play.

First, and most obviously, White is prone to hit the long ball, but only to his side of the pitch. There will be no Parkhurst-to-Francis cross-field blasts off the foot of Ethan White. There will be plenty of long boots up to the striker line. Again, this is not great but it is hardly unique in MLS. And it is better that a defender clear the ball than muck around and lose it deep. White cannot take much blame for the Union’s shocking lack of aerial prowess.

But Philly has done nothing to compensate for White’s limited passing abilities. They do not drop a midfielder deep to give him a consistent easy outlet, nor do they play compact in midfield to vacuum up the loose balls after long passes. Furthermore, the Union seem not to have figured out how to deal with White’s tendency to follow strikers instead of passing them off to midfielders or his partner.

White likes to be aggressive and chase out of the back line, but big strikers like Kei Kamara can neutralize White’s athleticism, brush him off, and push the ball to their playmakers who now have a giant gap in the back line through which to pass. This appears to be a communication issue, with White and his teammates either not passing players off when they switch zones or not covering for each other when one steps up aggressively.

Finally, there is the spacing issue with the fullback. For such a speedy player, White is often beaten to the corner ball by opposing wingers, and once isolated he has struggled. Early in the season, White was compensating by sitting deeper to get a jumpstart on the long ball. But this granted so much space between the defense and midfield lines that it resulted in a benching and Mo Edu’s move into the back.

Since returning to the first eleven, White has been better positionally, but he still finds himself distant from his fullback all too often (in fairness, this happens with increasing regularity on the left side of defense too). How does the Union back line get stretched and staggered so easily? It is likely a combination of defensive breakdowns in midfield and communication breakdowns in back. What is clear is that it is making a player low on confidence look very bad, and for a team barely hanging on to hope, that is hugely problematic.

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 6.31.56 PMKiller confidence

In Columbus, Andrew Wenger had early chances to take his man on, or at least to drive at his defender and create some havoc. He settled for a cross into an empty box. On Saturday, it was more of the same. And not just from the so-out-of-form-he-might-as-well-be-liquid Wenger. Sheanon Williams, with three men in the box, did not even face up his defender in order to threaten a move and draw a second player close.

Sheanon Williams is ball watching as Vancouver easily puts the Union under pressure off a long ball out of the back. Click to play.

Sheanon Williams is ball watching as Vancouver easily puts the Union under pressure off a long ball out of the back. Click to play.

The Union’s lack of confidence in their own abilities and in their system has begun to manifest in the little parts of their play. This is easiest to see in how the team pressure can go from coordinated to chaotic at the first sign of trouble. It also comes through in this unwillingness to drive at the opposition when isolated and create opportunities. It comes through in the lack of off-the-ball movement when the ball goes to the wing. And it comes through in touches that turn good runs into speedy dribbles out of bounds.

In short, it is possible to see so many of the Union’s problems through the lens of low confidence, just as it is possible to see last season’s strong midseason form as a team at peak self-belief.

The onus rests on the coaching staff to put out a team that is too young and inexperienced to feel or understand the heavy emotional struggle the rest of the squad is experiencing or to simplify the game to the point where it is just hard to make big mistakes. So far, it seems as though Jim Curtin and company have often gone for a sprinkling of both and not enough of either.

Player ratings

Brian Sylvestre – 5

Though he was caught in no man’s land on the first goal, Brian Sylvestre proved a stable and competent goalie behind a back line that continues its descent into the chaotic. Sylvestre was good in the air, didn’t muff clearances, and took good angles on shots in tight, particularly from Techera cutting down the right flank. He may not be a long-term solution, but Sylvestre made sure that, for one week, the goalie was not in the spotlight at the end of a Union match.

Ray Gaddis – 5

Kekuta Manneh is a good player, and his athleticism can neutralize the advantage Gaddis has over most players he faces off against. In that light, there is little to complain about in Gaddis’ performance. He pushed Manneh inside to where his help should have been, and until the midfield broke down and Vancouver had time to pick out space behind the Union defense, Gaddis rarely needed White’s support over the top. The catch in all of this is that Gaddis is only effective offensively if he can play simple passes quickly. Currently, the Union do not give him enough support to do that and Gaddis becomes a liability moving the ball out of the back. Is he partly to blame? Sure. But it’s a lot easier to fix the tactics than change a player who is the only fullback on the roster not playing far below capabilities.

Ethan White – 2

Strong in the early going, White was a hot mess for the rest of the first half after his error led to the first goal. At some point, you have to feel for the guy. His confidence is so fragile right now.

Richie Marquez – 3

Another young player finally gets a chance to start… and picks up a red card. This season, man.

Sheanon Williams – 3

Perhaps the only player who can challenge White and Wenger for a spot atop the Loss of Confidence standings, Williams is playing reactive soccer right now. He is much, much better than that. At his peak, The Sheanomenon was a shutdown fullback who was turning his right foot into a cross machine. Now it is easy to find him ball-watching, turning his hips when he should stay square, and giving up tons of space to players he used to take out of a game with aggressive play. It’s weird, disappointing, and hopefully just a temporary nadir in form.

Edu passing mins 1-20 (L) and 21-45 (R). Mo Edu worked small triangles early but was constrained to a more traditional holding role as the game wore on.

Edu passing mins 1-20 (L) and 21-45 (R). Mo Edu worked small triangles early but was constrained to a more traditional holding role as the game wore on.

Maurice Edu – 4

Probably deserves a 5, but Edu can’t argue much with getting knocked down a point by the swiveling hips of Darren Mattocks. The passing was good from Edu, particularly in the first 20 minutes when he was giving support to the wide areas and playing small ball. As Vancouver grew into the match, Edu stayed in the center and spread the ball to the wings efficiently. The most disappointing part of the match for Edu is that he only collected five recoveries. If the Union’s press is working well, central midfielders should be finding many more loose balls.

Eric Ayuk – 4

Largely invisible, and when visible, anonymous. Ayuk met a very good defender in Jordan Harvey and he was unable to shake free as often as usual. That said, Ayuk continues to be the team’s best defensive winger (almost by default) and when the midfield is able to regain shape after a turnover, he does a good job protecting his fullback.

Zach Pfeffer – 7

Yeah, Pfeffer was hardly the most influential player on the pitch. And he’s no Vincent Nogueira. But he was never supposed to be. This is one of the best young attacking midfielders in the United States learning a box-to-box role on the fly in a broken system where the wide defense is an X-File and the defensive rotations in back look like a group of similarly dressed men running from invisible bees. Within that context, Pfeffer has improved significantly in each match. He is the only player that could be found reliably checking in to help his wingers with regularity all match. All but one of his recoveries in midfield led to completed passes (the one incomplete was a clearance from the endline). And Pfeffer’s passing chart — with only three incompletes all match — looks pretty darn good for a guy with wingers who are competing to be benched. Is this reaching for positives? Probably. But that’s where we are at.

Cristian Maidana – 4

Unfortunate for Maidana that he completed almost nothing around the final third because, like Pfeffer, his performance should be seen in context. The movement around Maidana when he has the ball has gone from disappointing to depressing, with players simply standing around and expecting their team to lose the ball.

Andrew Wenger – 3

Here are my notes for Andrew Wenger’s first 20 minutes: “Great passing move up the left,” “11- Another good run by Wenger,” “20 – Great aggression from Wenger.” All positive. Then… what happened? How can a player with so many physical skills let himself get taken out a match so consistently? Will the re-introduction of Nogueira give the Union a quicker transition and let Wenger run free? Seriously: Where is the player who at least took fullbacks on every time he had a chance? The final ball has never been his strong suit, but Wenger won’t even attack a defender these days. What gives?

Fernando Aristeguieta – 5

The big striker has nothing to feed on. Better distribution from him than in recent matches, but there’s no denying that the chemistry between Aristeguieta and his wingers remains non-existent.

Substitutes

Vincent Nogueira – 6

Active as usual, Nogueira couldn’t find his longball touch. That’ll come. At least he was trying them, which was a glaring flaw in Pfeffer’s performance.

Conor Casey – 4

Three touches in the opposition half in 14 minutes plus extra time.

Sebastien Le Toux – 3

Four touches (one where he was dispossessed) in the opposition half.

Geiger counter – 2

It’s hard to believe that a player running up the back of another player is not called in general play, so it is strange that Ismail Elfath waved play on when Octavio Rivero did it to Ethan White. That said, when the game is put into the referee’s hands those things happen. The red card on Richie Marquez seemed exceedingly harsh considering there was absolutely no intent and when strikers throw their foot into the swinging leg of a defender they are given a caution at worst. Very MLS level of refereeing on display (not a compliment).

97 Comments

  1. “a group of similarly dressed men running from invisible bees”. Awesome. The analysis and turns of phrase on this site might be the one thing that’s kept me from turning in my supporter’s card.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Several that I thought were off here. On the plus side, Marquez deserved higher than a 3. He was sent off on a bad call that I don’t think you can hold against him. You can say he gave the ref an opportunity to make the call, but the only real counter to that is to never challenge for the ball…
    .
    White should be even lower for what he did on the first goal. Not only did he make the bad pass that Marquez almost bailed him out on, he was standing around watching it rather than getting back once he made it.
    .
    Maidana also needs to be lowered for making the back pass that led to the second goal. Not for the poor quality of the pass, but for making a back pass in the first place. It’s a major problem with the Union mentality which is just getting worse and worse. It really started with the free kick against Chicago last year where three back passes and an Mbolhi miskick led to the tying goal.
    .
    A 7 is a reach for Pfeffer. It seemed like he was invisible for much of the match.
    .
    Finally, a 2 is 2 too high for Elfath. Bad enough that he completely blew the call on the second goal. To then also undercut the Union for next game with the red is beneath ridiculous. It’s one thing if the game had been getting chippy and there had already been a bunch of yellows. But when your first card is in the 78th minute and it’s red, it damn well better be so clear cut that the player who commits it agrees with the red. Personally, I wouldn’t have been disappointed if the Union had just sat down on the pitch and let Vancouver walk the ball into goal as many times as they wanted to after that call…it was that much of a mockery.

  3. I’m sorry but no one in that midfield deserves higher than a 4. And that is being charitable.

  4. Bryan Schmidt says:

    Sheanon is coaching and training youth soccer……..and a little funny how it almost completely coincides with when he disappeared on the field

  5. Dr. Union says:

    I would agree that Marquez deserves higher then a 3 how many times did he bail either Williams or White out. Williams should get by my account be at maybe a 1.5 just horrid play from a fullback. Caught up field to many times got pulled out of position consistently and I don’t think he made one tackle all game. Wenger also deserves a 1 you don’t miss open goals from 4 yards out if your a winger/forward just horrid, still more of the same from him. Can’t understand why he starts. With Wenger and Williams on the left it is turning into a black hole of nothingness to allow other teams to freely take and do what they wish with. Also, Edu the supposed solid CDM that is NT quality is anything but. He has checked out on both caring, playing tough, and has lost any semblance of skill that he once had I give him a 2. Edu didn’t track back got turned inside out by Mattocks a backup striker and still has no touch to play the midfield that I can see.

  6. The Black Hand says:

    This must have been a tough rating.
    .
    WAY too kind on Edu. He was the invisible man…and it showed (get it?). He was our CM, supposed to be orchestrating our tactical approach. According to your graphic, Edu attampted 20+/- passes…in the entire first half. TWENTY!!!! Do you see vision in any of those completions? And, that was Edu’s good half. It’s time to take Edu to task!!!
    .
    Richie Marquez deserves better than a three. His RC had nothing to do with the outcome of the match. I thought he looked pretty good, considering that he was working with muppets.
    .
    THIS Sheanon has been here for some time. He SHOULD be competing with Fabinho…he’s been that bad. We need a LB!!
    .
    A 7 for Pfeffer? Really???
    .
    I think that it’s time for Jim Curtin to go. He is losing this club. When half of your club looks like they don’t care, the manager needs to be focused upon.
    .
    Tear it down!!! It’s over…

  7. I look at players like Ethan White, Wenger, Sheanon and Le Toux when he’s been on the field, and I think “they should be benched.” Then I try and think of a replacement player for each of them, and I shudder in fear. There is no one else to trot out there, regardless of how those players play. As of March 9th I thought there was a clear Best XI, and they haven’t all been healthy enough to play together this year, but beyond that there are only 3 or 4 players who I actually trust to go out and contribute at this point. So Curtin has to either ride this XI because of injuries and let them play through it, or bite the bullet, start the Raymond Lees and McLaughlins and look ahead to next year.

  8. 10 for Adam for somehow mustering the courage to continue writing thoughtful analysis. I would need a lobotomy to accomplish this Sisyphean task.

  9. alicat215 says:

    Where’s little Antionne’s rating?…………….oh, yeah thats right…..he was in Harrisburg!

  10. We all realize that Sheanon is not a LB right? How can we expect him to play above sub par when he is playing out of position? Not only out of position, but on the complete opposite side of the field when he does not posses a left foot? As much as I want to dog him for his less than great showing at RB & LB, I’m starting to think that it may be due to the lack of skill from the players around him.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Did we all realize that Gaddis was a RB???

      • He’s had a heck of a lot more practice playing LB than Williams.

      • The Black Hand says:

        True, but he looks a heck of a lot better than Williams, at RB.
        .
        Manneh would have had Williams puking on his boots by the 22nd minute.

      • Dr. Union says:

        Williams lack of a left foot or lack of playing LB does not account for not having any competent skill to position yourself defensively and talk with your CB. You should clearly be talking and seeing the space you are giving up and adjust. By my accounts the space between Marquez and Williams for a large portion of the match had to be in the range of 25yards or more most the game that is just poor. Whether on the right or left it doesn’t matter. I mean hell I even saw Gaddis sprint across field to cover for Williams and then sprint back to still cover his man on the right. Switching sides for a fullback should not be that difficult think of most top fullbacks they play both sides do they have a preference yes, but they can play both if needed you just adjust your game.

      • The Black Hand says:

        There were, at least, 5…FIVE times in the final twenty minutes, where Sheanon was the highest Union player, up the pitch…and then he would JOG back…We were playing with 3 in the back.

      • Of course Ray looks better at RB his second time out because thats his natural position. As for Williams positioning, sure he gets caught up field at the wrong times. When do we start questioning the coaching staff instead of the player? Clearly Williams wouldn’t be pushing so high up the field if Jim told him to stay back.

      • Dr. Union says:

        Totally agree with this. TERRIBLE. JUST TERRIBLE. And to think had this team kept Jordan Harvey we would not have LB problems. And if we kept Jacobson and Okugo we wouldn’t have midfield problems. Its all too easy to see all the mistakes being made with this team. I would also say its fine to push up like Williams does but bust your ass to get back if thats what your gonna do. If you can’t make it back then you stay home its basic fullback logic.

      • John Ling says:

        But… we got SO MUCH allocation money for him, we couldn’t refuse the deal!

      • Dr. Union says:

        LOL.

  11. WestmontUnion says:

    I can’t even begin to muster the strength to argue any of the ratings, so I agree across the board. We’re simply a pile poop, and a messy one at that. That said, as I have to sit through the rest of the season and see out my season ticket commitment of support and dollar bills, I am looking to the positives here. I posted on BigSoccer forum mid match some musings, but have realized that the real fan insights are better posted on PSP where soccer intelligence flows freely (like any oppositions game plan when playing the Union this season).

    Musings:

    – This is a lost season. Announce we’re rebuilding, hiring a qualified GM, in talks with a qualified coaching staff, and open to selling the club to the right buyer.

    – Wenger is truly unqualified, nor talented enough, to play on the wing or attack. As this is a rebuilding year, trial him at LB. If this doesn’t work, the bench is the only other place for him.

    – White is an NASL player at best. Trade or sell asap. Or relegate to the bench and make sure Fabinho never touches grass for the rest of the season.

    – Invest in Marquez. He should start from here on out at CB alongside Vitoria or Edu.

    – Stick with youth. Play Ayuk, Pfeffer, Jimmy Mac, Catic. Do not play for a minute Casey, Carroll Fabinho or Fred. As we can’t recall Leo from Cosmos (who is killing it by the way), or MacMath, or Danny Cruz…we should be looking to make some shrewd young signings asap to also give minutes to this year. This leads into…

    – Sign 3 players in the transfer window. Young US, South American or African talent who we can give playing time to and develop (and they’ll be of value to the team, regardless of who the coach or GM ends up being). Shrewd loan to sign deals are a risk adverse mechanism to take advantage of. Targets – LW, CAM, LB. This is the perfect Loan to Buy scenario. We have the minutes to give young talent (which their parent clubs value, especially as we’d be paying their wages also); and in turn if they’re good we will pay a pre trial/loan fee for. If they perform, the transfer fee is fixed and can’t be inflated.

    – Hire a new coach and new coaching staff immediately. Enough is enough. The fan base and league respect are being lost by the week playing this crap every match. Injuries, player personnel issues, no tactical display and no team cohesion are all glaringly obvious reasons as to why a coach should be fired and replaced. Even if Curtin’s pick up league tactics start to be effective, I certainly don’t want to pay to watch it next season!

    So back to the ratings. It doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t. We’re the worst team in the league, and play the most uninspired, clumsy style imaginable. I’d rather have Chivas team out there, at least they played with skill and an entertaining style of play (even though they racked up losses, and only played in front of 2,000 people). I watch Columbus and NYRB this weekend, and it’s enough for me to realize that we are way off the mark. NYRB are playing unproven USL and youth talent and making them look good in a system that is effectively implemented and assigns players defined roles. It isn’t rocket science…it’s football tactics!

    • John Ling says:

      MacMath can be recalled, but Colorado has to give their approval for it. For whatever it’s worth.

      • From the 2015 roster rules:

        INTRALEAGUE LOANS: Teams may loan a player to another MLS club subject to the following:

        (iv) The player must remain with his new club for the entire MLS Season.

        Nothing there states that Colorado can agree to send MacMath back.

      • John Ling says:

        Hmmm… I stand corrected. (Well, sit; but you get the idea…) I was certain I read something about players on intraleague loans being recallable. Thanks for pointing out my mistake.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      All dreams my friend… good dreams… BUT ALL DREAMS

  12. no breaks for sheanon…when ray played LB for TWO SEASONS yall cruicified him when he played below expectations!! Not so easy, is it!

  13. pragmatist says:

    All the ratings can be summed up in 3 last three words for Marquez: “This season, man.”

    Waiting on 2016…

  14. Agree on all counts but one, I will give Ayuk the benefit of the doubt on that sensational flat ball cross– that it was intended and indeed lovely.
    .
    served on a silver platter – that a coworker of mine said, “was so good it could have been bellied in to the goal.”
    .
    so so so sad what they have wrought.

  15. I want to argue, especially Marquez (that Red Card was bulls*&t).
    .
    I’m still in shock, however, from just how badly Chivas PHL played.
    .
    Maybe in the next day or so.

  16. “This organization of defense going from coordinated to chaotic” to me is one of the bigger indictments on Maurice Edu. Some like him and feel we should be grateful to have a player of his ‘magnitude’ here while others see him as largely overrated and surplus to previous goods.
    .
    What I see in Edu, or rather do not see in Edu is a field general. Say what you want about Okugo the guy bosses his players around and helps the team maintain shape defensively. None of that seems to happen when Edu is in DM or even at CB really.
    .
    What this tells me, beyond shadow, is Maurice Edu is an adequate player and that is IT, good footballer, but nothing special…
    .
    …kind of like how the weekly pick up game is ALWAYS better and more organized when that “one dude” shows up as compared to when he isn’t there and the game is just a bit loose, ragged and not as clean.
    .
    The lack of leadership in the defense is not some random thing. “Oh hey it will get better.” It come down simply to….
    .
    … Maurice Edu is not that “one dude. ”
    .
    I am not that “one dude.” I am the dude who is happiest when that “one dude” shows up occasionally.
    .
    Okugo. He was that “One dude,” and he was here every week.
    .
    You all can argue all you want about whether I am right or wrong…. ‘but any major dude can tell you.’
    .
    …this is a fact. Period. The end.
    .

    • It is known, Khaleesi, it is known.

    • Dr. Union says:

      So this is just a shot in the dark. But do you think NYFC would be willing to trade: we give them EDU and we get POKU and jeb brovsky or some defender worth playing on the left that is below the age of 28. Poku comes in and changes games. I think he could start in the league and he has the physical toughness that Nogs needs next to him. Plus they are in the same boat as the Union. Then make another trade to try to ship wenger white fabinho and williams out and try to get another defender preferably CB and a winger.

      • John Ling says:

        Why would Manchester West want Edu?

      • Dr. Union says:

        Good question but my hope would be they think he could fit with Diskerud and Villa better cause Poku rides the bench till the two of them come out. Maybe for the same reason the Union got him he was a name at the time. It was just a hope and shot in the dark like I said. It would benefit the Union I think.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Too expensive.

      • Dr. Union says:

        Nothing is too expensive for Manchester West. My thought is however if that would be a viable option would anyone here think that that is a bad trade for the Union.

      • The Black Hand says:

        True.
        .
        I wouldn’t object to the Union jettisoning bad contracts.

      • Because he’s a very good player in a debacle of a situation.

      • The Black Hand says:

        He was very good. Lost his touch, passing, positioning and vision…aside from that, he’s great !

      • Nah, you have to look at the situation. When you take very good players and put them in terrible spots, the player pretty much always underperforms and develops bad habits. To me, it’s not just the personnel though. The coaches have a big hand in this debacle too.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Agree…and disagree.
        .
        I don’t see real quality, in any of Mo’s game…and haven’t in years. I see him as terribly average. He’s not worth his price-tag, in my opinion.
        .
        Yes!! This coaching staff needs to own this club’s current state. No…Curtin was not given a lot to work with (he influenced that, as well), but his group lacks cohesion, discipline and heart…that’s on him. I think Curtin needs to go. He’s like a 14 year old driving the school bus. He is not ready to manage professionals.

    • Edu, right. Okugo, wrong. Win with a push by being so right on Edu.

    • murphthesurf says:

      Now queue “Any world that I’m welcome to. ..”

  17. Fat Uncle Phil from Urkel says:

    Every week you give a rating to someone that is just unfair. Last week it was Gaddis…this week it is Marquez. 3? Brutal.

  18. When you get beat that badly (again), and your average ratings are above 4, I’d say you are over-rating the players.

    Gaddis, while he was up against a tough opponent, didn’t have that good a game and gave the ball away plenty, as well as being seemingly way out of position a lot (many times I thought Ayuk was Gaddis he was so far out of position). While better than most, no way was he a 5 (especially when the gk, probably our best player, also only got a 5).

    Maidana got a 4 despite that awful, terrible pass back for the second goal. It was his best pass of the game, if he was a Vancouver player that is.

    Le Toux, given a 3, despite as you say only touching it 4 times in the opposition half. I’d say he gave the ball away for 3 of those.

    5 should have been the highest score, with the average somewhere around 3.

  19. Andy Muenz says:

    Anyone in touch with whoever controls the SOB cheers? Any chance we can hear some sort of Chivas cheer next week before the game?

    • Fat chance. They suckle at the teat of the FO. If they show any opposition, I’d be shocked. Prove me wrong SOB’s… please, prove me wrong.

      • Harsh OMW…Harsh.

      • Is it?
        .
        I think the weight of the SoB could very easily lobby for the hiring of a GM. Be steadfast in their properly applied pressure regarding this one very very very important and missing aspect of this team. This very thing we were told is underway yet conspicuously remains unfulfilled.
        .
        I (We) don’t need the SoB being bastards…by all means- we, here on this page, can be the bastards. The dirty grunts of warfare.
        .
        The SoB can be diplomats. Mediators. Speaking in conjoined unison for the welfare of our Union? Who are these leaders? Do you grace these pages? Do you have tuesday High Tea with Mr. Sugarman and Mr. Sakiewicz?
        .
        Well, SoB, are you voicing your dire concerns over the direction of this franchise you so diligently helped labor into being? Or are you postpartum and without care? Are you not in your right mind?
        .
        The SoB are our Continental Congress, aren’t you? Don’t you speak for us? Don’t you? Do you speak anymore? Or are you content with this laughingstock?
        .
        Maybe we should take up a militia and stage a revolution of our own.

      • I think it’s time to start an anti-S.O.B. group. One that doesn’t suckle at the teat of the FO. Sons of Penn? Anyone?

      • The Black Hand says:

        A group of friends and I tried to branch out, as a supporter”s group. The Union wouldn’t recognize us; thus keeping us out of the raucous River End (in it’s prime). We were to be called Poor Richard’s Rejects…or Poor Richie’s Little Bastards. Let’s dust off the muskets…

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I’m in. I’m not suggesting tactics that are out of line, but dissent is certainly necessary and we should be heard. I like Poor Richards Rejects We must not go quietly into that good night…

      • I just wish The British were coming . . . the British were coming!

  20. John Ling says:

    So here’s a question based on the analysis. I think Adam maybe danced around it a bit, but I didn’t see a clear thought on it. Both Columbus and Vancouver, the Union came out well then fell apart after they got punched in the mouth the first time. This game, that punch was Andrew Wenger making Ousted look like he was superman. (Seriously, I know strikers are taught to shot back across the goal; but don’t you have to know when a particular ball is an exception?) So… Are the Union falling apart because of the punch to the mouth specifically, or are they falling apart because teams are making adjustments, delivering the punch (even if it’s a lucky hit), and then rolling?
    .
    Sort of a chicken and egg debate, I guess. But this is something for Curtin & Co to figure out. If they’re falling apart because of the punch to the mouth, the players need to be toughened up or shipped out. If they’re falling apart because a tactical adjustment by the opponent is making the punch possible, they damn well need to learn to counter punch.
    .
    Jim Curtin wanted to punch above his weight class in the pre-season. Well, Jim, if you’re gonna do that you need to learn to sometimes take a vicious hit and keep going. A better boxer will hit you in the mouth. If you want to come back and hit a knockout shot, you better learn to take that hit and keep going.
    .
    That said… I actually trust Curtin is being honest with us. Or, as honest as possible. Two things. Back in pre-season, we all derided the idea of “punch above our weight” when Jim said it. Well, look at us. I think it’s pretty clear that Curtin knew his team was soft and lacked talent to compete; but he can’t say those things. So instead, he says he wants to punch above his weight class.
    .
    Second thing. MBohli. Curtin has been flat out, stone cold honest with us every step of the way. Go re-read Nicky Sak’s comments (“We’re not going to risk injury to a player who we may transfer 2 months from now”) vs. Curtin’s comments. (“It was my decision,” “He won’t play again, and will be given a chance to train on his own away from the players.”) Maybe sometimes with Curtin we need to wait for the other shoe to drop, like his pre-season boxing metaphor. But at least as far as I’m concerned, Jim Curtin has been stone cold honest with us all year, knows his team isn’t good enough, knows what the short-comings are, and knows who he needs to replace. He’s earned the benefit of the doubt, for me at least.
    .
    I sat and watched the Cows vs. Manchester West last night. My choices were go and do some of my freelance writing work after doing a 5K in the morning followed by a ton of yard work (oh, god, I’m in terrible shape for that much activity); or sit with my daughter and watch a game I don’t really care about while drinking a cold beer. Really, the choice was easy.
    .
    And… wow! The Cows looked good. Really good. Passes on the ground, little triangles until the defense shifted, then BANG. An organized defense with a confident goalie. Even after they went down a man from a first-half red card they continued to play well – to the point where it looked like the Cows were up a man rather than down a man. We have so, so far to go… (And as a side comment: as much as I like Curtin, in theory at least WE could’ve hired Jesse Marsch as our coach during the off season. Oi.)
    .
    .
    On the game…
    .
    Actually, no. I have nothing to say on the game. I didn’t expect to win, I didn’t even expect to stay close. But I also didn’t expect to watch my team roll over and play dead, either.

    • Or the Manchester West point of view – Kreis pulls his two DPs, and their goal is a combo between a guy who was coaching youth soccer in 2014 and a second year player. A player, who it should be noted, the Union could have drafted in 2014 had they not kept trading down.

      That being said, NYCFC’s back line makes the Union’s look organized and competent.

    • i think what you are saying here bears repeating and remembering. i think curtin has been honest with the fans since the beginning and i don’t think he is a dummy or a fool and i think he realizes how much his hands are tied when it comes to building this roster. he knew in the preseason that the roster was not good enough to compete consistently and he knew that there wasn’t a lot he could do about it

      • I agree with your comment – my problem has been one of can the guy coach to the level of the emerging game not the bunker and bullshit play of yesteryear. I have concerns about his tactical acumen.

      • John Ling says:

        I dunno. Perhaps he’s determined that bunker ball is the only option he has with the group he’s been given. Or perhaps his tactics are stuck in the past and he doesn’t have ideas.
        .
        My whole point was that I’m going to pay a lot closer attention to what he has to say. Because as best as I can tell, so far in his year-ish on the job, Jim Curtin has been brutally honest with us.

    • At this point in his coaching career, Jim Curtin is clearly overmatched and has lost the team. Whether he’s honest or not, time for a change.

      • Whether there’s a coaching change or not, doesn’t matter. The same slop will be on the field. And the same FO will be up top. And the same hole where a GM should be will also be there. Changing the coach, whether he’s out-matched or not, will make zero, nada, absolute shit, difference,.

      • I tend to disagree. The battery of this team is Edu, Nogs, Maidana, Nando, and Pfeffer. While this team is thin, the cupboard isn’t exactly bare. It’s also an indictment of a coaching staff’s effectiveness (or lack thereof) when previously solid players like Sheanon Williams and Andrew Wenger just go into the tank and continue to get worse. To be clear, a new staff will not save the season, but if you get the right guy in here, the bleeding will be stopped and the team will start to trend upwards. With Curtin, you’re looking at a year-long free fall, essentially.

      • i don’t know if wenger’s situation really supports your theory though. he blossomed under curtin and is now stinking under him

      • John Ling says:

        The only way I’m willing to say Curtin should get fired right now is if the team somehow miraculously suddenly hires a GM / Sporting Director, and that person determines a new coach is needed.
        .
        I get it that Nicky Sak would hire the GM, but it at least removes the decision by one level from Nick. I want Nick to make as few decisions as necessary going forward.

  21. 1) Marquez deserves a higher than a 3. The red card was complete nonsense. I’d give him a 5. Especially since you’re grading some players on a curve (see below).

    2) I cannot imagine why you’re giving Zach a 7. Yes, you’re grading him on a curve, for the reasons you mentioned. But he was almost totally invisible in this match. Even on a curve, a 5 would be generous.

    3) Speaking of generous, it must’ve been wistfulness that made you give Maidana a 4. I saw no meaningful positive offensive contribution, and he directly cost us a goal. He should get a 2 at best.

  22. Dr. Union says:

    My comments to the FO. Just where he says 20 years substitue 6 seasons and instead of NY put in Philadelphia where he says Yankees put Union.

  23. JL – I was also willing to give Curtin the benefit of the doubt. But given his irrational faith in Wenger, in the face of 100’s of minutes of aimless time on the pitch this year, I have come to doubt our coach’s judgement and coaching ability.

    • John Ling says:

      That is absolutely baffling to me. Without a doubt. I want somebody else to start there – I’m desperate enough, frankly, I’d accept Fabinho in that role! But the more I pay attention to Curtin and what he says – and sometimes just as important, what he doesn’t say – the more I’m willing to give him a little more rope with which to hang himself.

    • To be fair, it sounded like Sapong was going to be the starting LW/LM but then…
      .
      Really I don’t know who else would see time there. Ayuk, Le Toux, and Wenger are your active options and 2/3 have been poor. I know many are calling for Jimmy, but throwing a kid into the fire might not do well for his career.

      • John Ling says:

        So let me toss out a controversial option:
        .
        Fabinho.
        .
        His biggest issue is that he’s a defensive liability. Well, he has less responsibility – and just as important, somebody behind him to back him up – out on the wing.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I think that both Fabinho and Sheanon are worth a look, on their respective wings.
        .
        I also think that Wenger could slot in at LB, as many had mentioned before. He has not been bad defensively.

  24. Section 114 (Formerly) says:

    What was a better buy?

    (1) Fabinho
    (2) M’bolhi
    (3) My third white jersey with “Adu” on the back?

    I’m thinking it’s Mr. Sun Rocket. And that scares me.

  25. ScottyMac says:

    I’m confused. White had a bad game, mostly cause he’s not good. Gaddis, per PSP’s splicing apart of performance from others, gets mediocrity. Isn’t Gaddis’ rambles up field leaving a bad White home alone? He’s fast, but his decision making needs help.

    • Adam Cann says:

      @Scotty – Good point. My reasoning was only that I think Gaddis pushing up is part of the Union’s tactical plan, while White becoming a headcase after his error led to a goal was probably not in the pre-game strategy. So yeah, it would be great if Gaddis was back helping, but I think he was often doing what he was supposed to, even if it didn’t work well.

  26. We honestly need to step our game up. Is there any outside pressure (from MLS) on the Union to hire a GM or sporting director and show some semblance of effort? If the U don’t have the lofty aspiration to have a functioning front office they should just fold. Seriously

    • We should be so lucky.
      .
      I could do without the professional game for a few years if it meant we regain a foothold in one of the 40 franchises that will be coming along at some point. .
      .
      Seriously, let the next club’s USL team play in Chester and let’s get a new stadium somewhere better with better backing and real money with real VISION. real PHILOSOPHY. real PLAN.
      .
      I am serious. The faster Mr. Sugarman and Mr. Sakiewicz leave town the better. Take this myopic sack of steaming shit soccer and GO.
      .
      It is not easy to be this bad. This is the 49ish league in the world. Come on. This is MLS. It isn’t even that good – and we have 1 win in 10 games and regularly provide the other team with a clean sheet. Each year becoming fractionally worse than the preceding. Take your franchise and GO.
      .
      GO.
      GO.
      GO.
      GO.
      GO.
      .
      .
      BE GONE. Shue-fly.
      .
      I AM Jack’s aching football heart.

  27. Be patient. A simple regression to the mean, which will happen , will give everyone hope that things are getting better. It is inevitable. It is actually not difficult to set up a cohesive defense (which the Union does not have). All this little clips show the total disarray of the defense, and not so much the flaws of the players. Each one seems to be on an island on defense.

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