Union / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 3-3 Chicago Fire

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Jim Curtin said after the match, “I’m upset because neither team really benefits from a tie. You have two teams at the bottom of the table; a tie really does nothing for us.”


“We invent different ways to blow leads. It’s unacceptable,” Curtin said. “You score three goals at home, you should win no matter what.”

In a thrilling end to end affair on Sunday night at PPL Park, Kennedy Igboananike’s stoppage time equalizer canceled out Sebastien Le Toux’s 90th minute strike, as both sides were forced to accept a point. The real hero of the night may have been Chicago goalie Sean Johnson, who kept the Union from running away with the game.

After starting slowly and conceding in the first ten minutes of each half, the Philadelphia was the better side for the other 70 minutes. Both sides rested key players, with CJ Sapong, Sebastien Le Toux, and Michael Lahoud on the bench for the Union and Harry Shipp and Matt Polster sitting for Chicago. Jim Curtin also installed Steven Vitoria in the back line to as Maurice Edu was given time off to get closer to one hundred percent.

First Half

Eager to reverse the result from midweek, Chicago came out on the front foot, but Ray Gaddis was well positioned to keep the scores level after five minutes. When a Fire corner was only cleared as far as Joevin Jones, the fullback tried his luck from distance, but the Union’s right back blocked well.

Minutes later, Chicago did break through. With Fabinho overcommitting out wide, Jason Johnson released Patrick Nyarko to the endline. Steven Vitoria slid over to cover but Igboananike raced in front of Gaddis to power home the cross from close range.

Chicago continued to apply pressure, but the Union found an equalizer from their first corner kick of the match in the 21st minute. Driving into the box, Fernando Aristeguieta latched onto Chaco Maidana’s in-swinger, finishing strongly from six yards out.

The Union nearly had the opportunity to storm into the lead from the penalty spot minutes later. Jones headed down onto his own arm, but referee Mark Geiger controversially ruled that the handball had occurred outside of the box.

Stepping up to the free kick, Maidana struck a left-footed drive that seemed destined for the upper corner, but Sean Johnson flew across to his right, parrying the chance away.

Aristeguieta had another look on goal in the 26th minute on a curling cross from Gaddis, but Tranquillo Barnetta ran into the same channel and threw off the Venezuelan’s attempted finish.

Maidana continued to cause chaos as he raced up the right flank, but Barnetta couldn’t keep his shot on target when the Argentine cut the ball back for him in the box.

In the 31st minute, the Union’s heavy pressure finally paid off. They ran the length of the field on a counterattack that took them from a Chicago corner kick to a goal at the other end. Barnetta showed quick feet to release Maidana, who raced into the center from the right flank. Spotting Fabinho steaming up the left, Maidana laid him into the box and a half-hearted attempted block from Lovel Palmer served only to deflected the Brazilian’s shot past Johnson.

Just before the break, Aristeguieta nearly doubled the lead after Ayuk’s deflected cross left Johnson in no-man’s land. But in stooping to head the spinning ball, Aristeguieta only sent it floating over the crossbar.

Second Half

The Union started the second frame brightly, with Eric Ayuk escaping past Jones and cutting back to Aristeguieta. Surrounded in the box, the Venezuelan laid back for Maidana, but his shot was too close to Johnson.

Ayuk was involved again in the 51st minute, finding Aristeguieta in a crowded box. The striker laid off to Maidana but Sean Johnson comfortably smothered his tame effort.

The Fire tied the match three minutes later with Igboananike turning provider. The Nigerian gave Ray Gaddis wrong directions and spun off to the endline where he slotted the ball across goal. Patrick Nyarko ghosted in front of Fabinho at the far post for an easy finish.

CJ Sapong and Michael Lahoud replaced Tranquillo Barnetta and Warren Creavalle in the 60th minute as Jim Curtin looked to both add firepower and avoid midfield consistency, respectively.

Sapong nearly broke through in the 71st minute, racing onto Maidana’s quickly taken free kick but Joevin Jones did just enough to slide in and deny a clear chance.

Five minutes later, Sebastien Le Toux had another chance to put Philadelphia ahead after Maidana released Sapong. The striker rolled his entry pass into Le Toux’s stride, but the Frenchman’s attempt at a casual chip fell safely into Johnson’s arms.

Maidana continued his one man show as he beat won a clash with Jeff Larentowicz and sprinted away. With Sapong racing into the box, it was only Eric Gehrig’s well-timed sliding block that kept the Union from yet another open look.

As the match wore down, Sean Johnson stepped into the spotlight. First he denied Maidana with a brilliant stop in the 81st minute, then he relied on his razor sharp reflexes to claw away Sapong’s far post header a minute later.

In the 86th minute, Johnson came up huge again as he denied Richie Marquez’s header off a corner kick.

Moments later, Johnson surpassed his prior excellent save with a double stop of the highest quality. With time to let the ball drop onto his foot, Brian Carroll cracked a full volley from the top of the box, which Johnson could only parry into the path of Le Toux. But what appeared like it would be a simple tap-in was not to be as the Fire keeper scrambled off the ground to dive at Le Toux’s feet, denying him the Union’s third goal.

With the Union playing short off of a corner just before the end of regulation, Fabinho tried his luck from just outside of the box, but Johnson managed to fly to his left, using his fingertips to push the powerful strike it off the crossbar and away.

Finally though, in the 90th minute, Sebastien Le Toux solved the Johnson riddle by powering a low shot into the far netting sending PPL Park into euphoric celebrations. Maidana found the Frenchman on the left with an inch-perfect pass that proved to be a deserved third assist of the night for the playmaker. Cutting in on his right foot, Le Toux rolled his finish past Johnson and inside of the far post.

Having notched what appeared to be the matchwinner, the Union sat back after Chicago restarted, and the Fire controversially tied the match in the dying seconds as Igboananike got his second of the night, blasting into the roof of the net after a string of questionable refereeing decisions, chief among them the failure to whistle Jason Johnson for handling the ball in the buildup.

The match finished 3-3, with the two teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference showing off both their firepower and their defensive frailty.

Philadelphia next plays Montreal at Stade Saputo at 8pm on August 22 (TCN).

Philadelphia Union
John McCarthy; Ray Gaddis, Richie Marquez, Steven Vitoria, Fabinho; Warren Creavalle (Michael Lahoud ’60), Brian Carroll; Eric Ayuk, Cristian Maidana, Tranquillo Barnetta (CJ Sapong ’60); Fernando Aristeguieta (Sebastien Le Toux ’73)
Unused substitutes: Andre Blake, Ethan White, Vincent Nogueira, Conor Casey

Chicago Fire
Sean Johnson; Lovel Palmer, Eric Gehrig, Jeff Larentowicz, Joevin Jones; Shaun Maloney (Harry Shipp ’68), Michael Stephens, Razvan Cocis (Matt Polster ’74), Patrick Nyarko (Mike Magee ’84); Kennedy Igboananike, Jason Johnson
Unused substitutes: John Busch, Ty Harden, Collin Fernandez, David Accam

Scoring Summary
CHI — Kennedy Igboananike (Patrick Nyarko, Jason Johnson) — 9
PHI — Fernando Aristeguieta (Cristian Maidana) — 21
PHI — Fabinho (Cristian Maidana) — 31
CHI — Patrick Nyarko (Kennedy Igboananike) — 54
PHI — Sebastien Le Toux (Cristian Maidana) — 90
CHI — Kennedy Igboananike (Mike Magee, Harry Shipp) — 90+2

Disciplinary Summary
PHI — Warren Creavalle (Unsporting Behavior) — 34
PHI — Tranquillo Barnetta (Unsporting Behavior) — 55
CHI — Patrick Nyarko (Unsporting Behavior) — 70
PHI — Sebastien Le Toux (Delaying the restart of play) — 90+1

Philadelphia Union Chicago Fire
20 Shots 11
11 Shots on Target 4
7 Shots off Target 5
2 Blocked Shots 2
 6 Corner Kicks 3
 17 Crosses  20
 2 Offsides 0
 16 Fouls 14
3 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards  0
 359 Total Passes 401
 77.2% Passing Accuracy 78.6%
 47.2% Possession  52.8%
 42 Duels Won 49
 46.2% Duels Won %  53.8%
10 Tackles Won  14
1 Saves 8
13 Clearances 23



  1. I just want to scream.

  2. Just another example of criminal officiating. Hand ball, and out of bounds, yet allowed to play on. MLS officials are an out and out embarrassment to the league.

  3. Goooooool de Mark Geiger!

  4. That last goal. POOD!

  5. Atomic Spartan says:

    Hats off to Sean Johnson. That was an amazing display of goalkeeping. Without him it’s Union up by at least 3 goals.
    Hats back on to Geiger. Off the field and in fact many other venues he seems a nice enough guy and even occasionally competent. But there is something special that happens to him when he sets foot on the PPL pitch. That was an amazing display of gutless, wrong-headed officiating. A self-fulfilling prophecy of dreck: we knew he was going to blow it the minute we saw his name on the ref roster and sure as heck, he was every bit as bad as his bad self in past games.
    Pretty good game by the U. Should have had a better result. We just got beat by a great goalkeeper, some porous defense on our side, and a kick in the nads from a ref that got it wrong in so many ways.

    • Yeah, in my disgust for Geiger, it’s easy to forget how AMAZING Johnson was. Obviously, I would have preferred he not be, but it’s hard not to compliment his performance!

    • We got Geigered, for sure. But don’t let the linesman off the hook, either. Both the handball and the out-of-bounds leading to the final goal should have been right in front of him. He somehow missed the handball, and was out of position to see the ball going over the endline.
      That having been said… it is not Mark Geiger’s fault we didn’t win this game. I don’t want to hear bad luck, bad officiating, or whatever from anybody associated with the Union. We didn’t because we couldn’t finish (absolutely, hats off to Johnson) and because we couldn’t prevent them from scoring. That’s it; it’s that simple. The Union played soccer’s version of the prevent defense – and it went just about as well as it does in that other football game.

  6. We got Geigered. I’m generally loathe to blame the ref, but I’ll make an exception. The AR’s were both so intimidated by Geiger that they weren’t even making out of bounds calls without checking with him. So of course they can’t help on the hand ball (or the ball going into touch) before the tying goal.

  7. As frustrating as that was, at least it was entertaining, Sean Johnson put on a great show. At least I feel like I got my money’s worth tonight

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      Wish I could feel the same. Personally I feel cheated out of seeing a win. No excuse for a defense that let Chicago – yeah, CHICAGO! – score 3 times.
      But that’s the game, and frankly that’s OK, sorta. What really makes me feel cheated is seeing a good game ruined by a prima donna ref who apparently thinks we come to see him find new ways to louse up a game. Performances like Geiger’s need to be objectively reviewed by an impartial panel of experts, and I don’t think PRO or MLS have the smarts or the wherewithal to truly review and rate their ref’s proficiency, or we wouldn’t be seeing such crap as frequently as we do.

  8. Other than the obvious fact that Mark Geiger should not be a certified official, a few thoughts on the match.
    1. Even though he scored, Nando is like a bull in a china shop. Good work rate, but the guy has zero first touch and has below average placement re: finishing. Tough decision will have to be made on him at the end of the season. Right now, I’d let his loan expire.
    2. Fabihno is such an incredible liability on defense. The 2nd goal was inexcusable. That was high school sh*t, falling asleep like that.
    3. I’ve watched / played a lot of soccer in my life as a fan, a participant, and as a coach. The 7 minute stretch that Sean Johnson pulled off from minute 81 to minute 88 was the best short stretch of goalkeeping that I’ve ever seen. Period. At a minimum, 4 or 5 of those 6 shots should have been goals (the one save was a rebound off the Marquez header). There is no hyperbole here. Each save was incredible, and collectively, that performance was beyond astounding.
    4. Creavalle did not impress. McCarthy really regressed in this game. His distribution was inconsistent, and he made a couple of terrible decisions re: coming out vs staying on his line.
    5. Starting GK, Starting LB, and depth at F is where this team needs to concentrate in the offseason. If Vitoria is retained at less than half of his current salary, then he’ll be fine as CB depth; otherwise, depth there needs to be addressed too. CDM, midfielders are good.

    • el pachyderm says:

      you did make 5 points above I believe.

    • 1) yes. 2) yes. 3)yes. 4)no/yes(thought Creavalle started shaky but grew into it) 5)yes, yes, yes, don’t think I want Vittoria at any price, yes and yes

    • All good points.
      For #2 . . . Goals 1 and 3 also were both generated down our lefthand side, interested to see the post game ratings. If that was Gaddis there would be people calling for his immediate release.
      #3/4 Johnson was epic. He’s gonna have 3 of the top 5 saves of the week at a minimum. All I could think of is we paid $500K for M’Bohli (Johnsons i making ~$250). The only better display I’ve seen was the real McCarthy . . . Alex McCarthy playing for Reading against Liverpool a few years ago. I too thought that on goals #1&2 Sylvestre would have come out and challenged for those crosses based on what I’ve seen from him in the past. Our McCarthy was a statue.

    • I agree with every point, except that Fabinho isn’t always a liability — this year he’s played very well in most games, on fact. What he is is maddeningly inconsistent. Certainly we need to upgrade.

    • Agree on all points. But let’s not forget our appointed right back. Mr Gaddis was horribly late for Chicago’s 1st goal and on the wrong side of the striker. He was also terrible 1 on 1 (his supposed strength) on their 2nd.

      • I don’t agree re: blaming Ray on the 1st goal. You could lay the blame at 3 or 4 players there, but Ray would be down on my list. First, Fabihno was out of position, putting Richie in a tough spot against a winger flying down the flank. Second, Vitoria didn’t get back fast enough and allowed that low driven cross to get through (I lay most of the blame on Steven for this goal). Third, yeah Ray wasn’t goal side, but he also was pinching in from the opposite side from where the ball was. Generally, on a low-driven cross, the man in Vitoria’s spot should be the guy to clear; on a near post lofted cross, McCarthy is the guy to play that ball; and other than running with the man, Ray still has to worry about a far-post lofted ball because there’s no one from the U behind him and still another Chicago player lurking back there. I blame Vitoria mostly for the 1st goal w/ an assist to Fabihno.

      • Good observations.

  9. For the second time this year the worlds saddest smokebomb was sill in the air when the other team scored.
    Ayuk what are you doing man.
    Aristagueta needs to be on the field more
    I am already sick of hearing about Geiger
    Philadelphia Union have had a Million Goalkeepers Chicago proves you only need one
    So are we gonna play Blake or not?
    Being a Union fan really isn’t fun anymore

    • Your last sentence is exactly what I said to my ticket rep when he called me on Saturday to ask me to Re-Doop. I told him no because while I enjoy the tailgating and the chatting with the fans that sit near me, once the game starts the fun stops. After 6 years of this, I just can’t take it any longer. It’s not that they lose often. I’ve rooted for losers before. It’s the inevitability of a loss or a tie that feels like a loss that is draining. There’s just no reason to even hope anymore. When LeToux scored to put them up 3-2 last night, I was saying why is he taking off his shirt and getting a yellow card? Why are they celebrating so much? I knew, not suspected, KNEW that they’d blow it in stoppage time. They’ve done it over and over and over again. I give up. I’m a beaten fan. I’ll see out the season and I’ll even buy tickets to the Open Cup Final but when the season’s done…so am I.

  10. el pachyderm says:

    I was thinking of offering this as a fan’s POV article, as it is something that’s been ruminating for a while, but to hell with it…. tonight puts into relief so well for me my argument…that I’m offering it as a post in general.

    Oh Boys.
    Oh Jim.

    Oh this Union – – So Union.

    I just shake my head this evening for what else is there to do…the exasperated cross-armed parent staring befuddled at his prodigal children who in any given moment become capable of irritating every nerve in the body the coy smile of what are you going to do about it dad… they are young, my children. They are without fully blossomed prefrontal cortexes so I turn, as the mature aged one and go outside to breath. Inhale. Exhale. and rationalize to myself in the rain though it is not raining… how yet again we forge ahead in a game then wilt within a minute or two in stultifying fashion. My prodigal children. My Union.


    Oh Woe!…how many points have we pissed away. Oh woe!..to be told this would be a defensive lockdown unit. Oh woe!…how can it be this team is so maddeningly bad at inopportune moments. Oh woe!… is this our sign – bedeviled ones? Oh woe!…Snakebitten….again? Oh woe… I am Jack’s aching football heart and….
    I want to believe ….
    …. But. You. Make. It. So. Hard…

    I’m all in for the Open Cup…all in, the rest of the season is over though, let’s not kid ourselves, don’t let them kid you…and relative to this, I would like to see the groundwork laid for a shift in clubwide tactics and clubwide philosophy. This is my mission statement:: ::


    :: :: because I believe in the Vision. I believe Nick Sakiewicz has a vision for this club. I do. Really. I am excited about the prospect of a USL team in Bethlehem. What is becoming a bit more evident along the way is…. there is a Plan…and while I may not agree wholeheartedly…we are bringing in some quality players…we have an academy that may become great…we are not going to be a sweepstakes team paying millions and millions for supernova players and fading or falling stars.


    I am okay with this- – because I have to be……but if and I mean only if…. we put in place a Philosophy and structure that is rooted in the emerging paradigm of cleaner technique, cleaner ideas and cleaner play that we see on any given day in the rest of the world’s leagues. We have to use the ‘Gold Standard’ of play as our metric and the Gold Standard of play is a possession style…even if you are a counter attacking team.
    Assuming we are able to manage keeping Noguiera and Maidana and Barnetta on the field (or at least two thirds of them at all times) who are all possession oriented players capable of using space very well. Assuming Edu is our CB along with the emerging and techincal CB Marquez. Assuming quick thinking, simple playing, move the ball to outlet and strong defensive minded Crevalle, Lahoud and Carroll will anchor DM. Assuming Sapong is lead striker. Assuming we move Pfeffer to the wing where he belongs, to fight for playing time with Le Toux and Ayuk. Assuming Wenger becomes a depth halfback or outside back, assuming going forward we unload some money in the way of a certain player not to be named. Assuming we continue to fill holes and add depth with quality players. Assuming Chris Albright knows what he is doing:: :: Assuming it all….
    …this is what I would like to see from our Philadelphia Union.


    I would like to see them remove the excessive and determinal depth from the field and condense the space between the forwards and the defenders when in possession of the ball. There is too much space on the field and this leads to too few options for the ball holder, too many players standing linearly and WAY to frenetic a pace of play that more often than not leads to “the Long ball,” as JP likes to say, for lack of options and lack of outlets for lack of ganas (spanish for desire/balls/courage) at important moments for certain players who are afraid of turning the ball over and then having no support nearby to help.


    From my POV this is THE missing piece in the style and philosophical play with this club in particular and MLS in general. I believe we have the players to push the back line forward and squeeze the field yet still create the space and width necessary to orient our style of play to possession when in possession and blitzkreig when on the counter. Defend when it is time to defend.


    I am tired of watching the way we play. Actually I hate it. The defensive mentality of laying WAY off when we have the ball is wrong and it is not working with sometimes 50 to 60 yards between forwards and defenders. When you watch the game abroad the space between the back line and the forwards is far tighter which leads to a much better style of play a quicker style of play yet much less frenetic. There are those among us at these pages way smarter and way more adept at figuring this stuff out…but I know I am right about this and leave it up to those of you better equipped to explain it tactially.
    We are bringing in players capable of retaining the ball but without a set style of play. As of yet we have no Philosophy and I certainly do not accept the manager’s version of defend first because…well…we do not do it well. We lack a bona fide identity in how to build play. This needs to be adjusted and fixed for me to put my faith in this manager and to believe this club is capable of moving forward with 21st century football…cause make no mistake- this should be the expectation and it is certainly mine. I am tired of suffering from lactic acidosis just by sitting and watching us run run run run push push push push. It is a dead way of playing. The game is meant to be savored as sex and just as sweet. The game is a moving meditation of small sided triangles everywhere with each player 8 meters aparts…played in spurts of aggression.
    Oh and one last thing…can we please teach our forwards to make a diagonal run to the near post to drag their defender thereby creating space for the other players in the box or the late arriving player. Please. Is that so hard. Seems elementary to me and we, I dare say, never see our players do it.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      Well Pachy, of course we agree on the need for Philosophy, Plan, Vision etc. And it’s nice that you think this FO actually is putting some of those elements into place, even though they have yet to demonstrate with any consistency their ability to do so – and have failed in this vein in so many other ways.
      In addition to your recommendation on attacking diagonal runs, I would like to add this elementary recommendation (I can’t believe I have to say this). Every coach, every player, every fan that has followed this game for more than a year knows how dangerous the first 3 minutes following a kickoff or a goal is. So the second a goal is scored – by either side – there must be an attitude of total concentration by both teams to either score or defend with every ounce of their being. The Union have lost precious MLS points because of their inability to leverage this simple fact. And the responsibility to get this point across to the players lies firmly with the coach. Sure, he’s young and learning and all that. But this is fundamental. Jim, ya gotta do something about this.

      • blearyeyed says:

        It would also help if the players stopped trying to call the game for the refs and continue playing until they hear a whistle. Get your hands down and play.

      • I think its the whole let’s sit back and defend issue. You score the apparent match winner in the 90th minute – keep playing! defend and tackle (may be a little less aggressively but not much), keep the ball and go forward. don’t tell everyone to hang back and look to snuff it out. even if the other side pressures you, you still have the right mindset to see it off (for example, Arsenal vs Palace yesterday).

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Nowhere in everything that I’ve read so far, and for whatever reason tonight and this morning I have have been reading it, has anyone commented on the characteristic of the game that struck me from the beginning. The team was dead tired.

      Why do we practice once a day? (Per “Behind the Crest”)

      High school coaches when they have no competition from the academic classroom practice twice a day. It was the same in college forty-four years ago. Why do paid professionals for whom playing soccer is a full time job practice only once a day? Is there exercise science that supports only once?

      If two-a-days are good enough for the Germans, why are they not good enough for the Union?

      We won games in the initial season solely by being in fantastic shape. South Korea won games at the World Cup it co-hosted by selecting the side for speed and being so well conditioned that they also ran times into the ground. Why have we gotten away from being in fantastic shape?

      When you were watching Christian Maidana have so come off after 45 minutes, after 60 minutes game after game after game all of last season, did you ever thing he would become the 90 minutes a game stalwart that he has become? Character and conditioning. All credit to Chaco for doing it; all credit to Mr Miller for helping him.

      Conditioning is something that can be controlled.

      • OSC, I cannot argue the conditioning of the Union. Since the start of the season I thought they were out of shape. I did however think it got better as the season wore on. The only thing I question is weather or not it was just fatigue. So many mid-week games without the benefit of a bench. Curtain only believes in a core group of players (to some extent I agree). I feel it’s just been too many minutes for this core, and not enough depth.
        I agree they need better conditioning. I just don’t know where that might hurt or help the “core group” that’s played so many minutes. You, being an OSC, would definitely know better than I.

    • Standing ovation. Just a little observation. The one time our forward did make that diagonal run (Nando), he was cut off by Barnetta. Nando was “Union’d” by Barnetta. Ahhhh so sad faced.

    • Both squads in 30 yards of space moving backward and forward like a dance……

      • Yup. Sometimes you lead sometimes you are led…but your philosophy is always to lead.
        Organized pressure when not in possession. Multiple outlet choices when in possession cause all 11 field players are integral in build up. This is a Philosophy of play. This is cutting edge MLS tactics.
        This is me asking Nick Sakiewicz, Jim Curtin and Mr Ian Munroe of Union Youth Academy to go to the 3Four3 school of futball as taught by Brian Kleiben of the LA Galaxy academy system as taught to him by The Quarry in Barcelona.
        But what do I know, I’m a hack…a hack who also happens to be ahead of the curve in thinking American soccer thinking.
        Call them up boys they just had a seminar in Vegas.

      • Vegas, baby, Vegas!

  11. SO UNION!!

  12. Hey I’m just glad we beat them in the open cup…I am now immune to any MLS related woes

  13. I don’t think I can take watching any more games this season. It’s Like getting punched in the gut over and over again. You know that punch is coming, but you keep watching, hoping for a different result. It’s the definition of madness.
    I watched it on TV and I don’t recall seeing Chicago kick off after Le Toux scored the Union’s third goal. It happened so fast and I still don’t get it. Forget the missed calls. Why is Chicago running into the Union’s back third with ease? Why is Igboananike having a picnic in the box un marked? Why is the Union, almost to a man, arguing with the refs as that final goal is scored? How can they so brilliantly gut out a go ahead goal only to just quit and snatch defeat from victory yet again?
    Yes this team has had some bad luck and has had more than its fair share of lousy refing, but it’s this team and it’s amazing inability to just stay focus that has cost it time and time again.

  14. The Oenophile says:

    Instead of saving myself 7% by Re-Dooping now, I realized after last night that I can save myself 100% and five to six hours of precious time (and aggravation of all sorts) 17 to 18 nights a year by not Re-Dooping at all.

    • it’s wonderfully liberating. gone is the commitment. gone is the anguish: “why am i doing this?” i didn’t even commit to watching it live. i recorded it and fast-forwarded to the goal and save marks. i was there wednesday. i don’t need to see the same basement dwellers going nowhere. getting in too late and aggravated.

      i ran into a fellow SoB and he asked me if i redooped. i didn’t last season and i won’t next.

      • The Oenophile says:

        You are correct — it is liberating. I feel like a heavy burden has been lifted from my shoulders. Maybe I’ll take the family to two or three games a year, but that feeling of obligation is gone.

  15. So I’m guessing we didn’t keep Sylvestre? I agree with everyone who’s says we need to finish scoring opportunities. Having said that, we don’t pay to see horrible officiating. These refs should be suspended or fired. Here’s my proposal, each coach should be allowed to use two or three challenges in a match. Then the refs take a look at the tape and then make a decision, like in hockey or football. Done and done.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Sylvestre’s still there but had a hand laceration a couple of weeks ago. He was working out with Blake and McCarthy during the open practice Saturday.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        He was also working out on the field before the game with the others who were not in the eighteen.

    • Two. Three might be too many. They can always add more challenges later if it proves not to be disruptive. Also, there needs to be some sort of “down side” for a coach who slows down the game by making a challenge, like how an NFL coach loses a timeout.

    • Soccer is probably the sport where the officials are at the biggest disadvantage. Football and baseball have replay to ensure that the most important calls that really change games (scoring, turnovers, fair/foul on homeruns) have some mechanism in place to get it right. Basketball has three primary officials for a 10 player game. Big decisions like “hey, was that handball really in the box” should be worth the extra minute it costs to get it right. A soccer referee has such a large burden to get plays like that right in a sport where goal scoring opportunities are hard fought and difficult to finish. Scoring plays and potential scoring plays like that one are too important to screw up. If that means goal line cameras, a 5th official in a booth with replay access, some sort of challenge system, etc…how is that not worth pursuing? Tell Lovell Palmer to roll off the field a bit quicker when faking an injury and that will offset the minute it takes to get those scoring plays called correctly.

      • Hockey and basketball both have replay as well. In both cases, I believe, the replay is initiated by the officials, though, not the coaches.

      • Excellent point. Hockey and basketball do have official initiated replay for key plays (goal scoring, buzzer beater shots…even 2 versus 2 pt. shots can be adjusted). I’m sure there are plenty of other good examples too. Soccer officials just aren’t equipped with much and there’s a lot of field and players to watch out for. They can surely do a better job than last night, but perhaps it’s time to give them some real tools too.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        And in hockey, if the call on the ice is no goal, they review it while the play continues. That way if the replay confirms the call there is no lengthy stoppage. If the call is overturned they just roll back the clock to the point of the goal. This is a little more difficult in soccer but should be doable.

      • Just a thought…can they add a second center ref.?? They add extra endline guys for finals…would that be an easy adjustment to make? One ref and one side judge for each half of the field..
        Please give me some feedback on this. It just seems so easy….

      • I’m old enough to remember when hockey did that. There was outcry at the time: the ice will be too crowded, there won’t be any consistency, it’ll grind games to a halt because every little thing behind the play will now get called…
        I think the logistics could be worked out. Of course, we already lack enough competent officials. This would just require digging deeper into the well, and we’d get more incompetent refs, at least at the start.

      • That could happen also…I was thinking it may need one ref from taking over…he would have another guy to confer with. Thanks John.

  16. Andy Muenz says:

    Union score a late “game winner” against Chicago only to see the game tied up in stoppage time. Where have I seen this movie before? And this time there is no Mbolhi clearance to blame.
    Best offensive performance by the Union in quite awhile. Sean Johnson was the only reason they didn’t put up 5 or 6 goals. Obviously, the defense needs some work.
    In a way this may have been a blessing in disguise. We saw an entertaining game and the team is now one step closer to not having a concern about the playoffs which will allow them to focus 100% on Kansas City followed by prepping for next year.

    • in the hopes of being overly negative, there never was any reasonable chance the Union make the playoffs this year. their play hasn’t merited it and they would simply serve as 1st round fodder, or if they managed an upset, 2nd round fodder. let’s see them them for what they are. an expansion team still looking for an identity and a core group of good players. some of the players are there, but too many of the players are egregious FO (= Nick and Jay) mistakes.

  17. The offense looked much better, EXCEPT, Carroll and Lahoud(Creavalle) cannot play together, especially not at home against the (second) worst team in the league. Carroll was playing as the more “advanced” midfielder, but really it’s just causing a huge gap there. Also, I felt like there was more bunkering then necessary at home. On the plus side Chaco looked good, Nando played okay and scored, Ayuk brought some positives. The defense, again, what more is there to say.
    Most telling moment of the match comes from my wife, who, while watching a lot of the games, wouldn’t consider herself to hold any kind of real game knowledge.
    Wife: I hope we’ll get to see them score on our side the second half so we can see up close.
    Me: Sorry but probably not. If we have this lead we’ll probably sit back and defend a lot.
    Wife: But isn’t that how we always end up tied or losing?
    …. Yes honey, yes it is.

  18. Sean Johnson put on one of the more dazzling GKing performances I’ve ever watched live. Unbelievable, really.

  19. This game was “so Union”. I honestly thought they had done enough to win the match. Yes there were defensive lapses. Yes, Ray and Fabi seem to have reverted to early season form, bad and worse. Yes, we got screwed on the handball in the box. But, the last goal…Maradona’s hand of god goal has nothing on this play. It was like a black curtain went up to block the view of the ref and linesman. It was God saying, “Oh you silly men of folly! I may have given you a shot at the Open Cup. But nay, thou shall not pass into the playoffs!”.
    If ever there was an example of why MLS needs instant replay this match was it. As if there wasn’t enough evidence that MLS ref’s are the WORST. THE ABSOLUTE WORST. Mark Geiger showed as the pride of MLS shitty refereeing.
    The Union claim a season of bad luck. In my heart of hearts, I rail against this. You make your own luck. But after that last goal, I give. You win. How else can you explain 3 non-calls, hand ball-out of bounds-out of bounds again (any of which would have stopped that goal from happening). The Union had lapses during the night. The did not play solid defensively. But none of that is responsible for that last goal. So I give. Uncle.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      we were on the pitch after the final whistle and saw up close the security escort Geiger has to have to get into the tunnel safely.
      Baldomero Toledo made a kindly commiserating gesture toward Geiger as they began to walk the gauntlet. The man clearly hates having to referee at PPL Park. He is utterly intimidated by it, knows it, and his work reflects it.
      He didn’t do badly with the games he had in Brazil for the World Cup. He’s done okay elsewhere, but PPL has his number and his fellow refs know it.

      • Totally agree he had a decent World Cup. I remember thinking, hey MLS actually does have a decent ref. But it’s been all down hill this year for him. I remember (quite badly, I admit) he had a horrid match earlier this year where he ended up apologizing, or admitting he missed calls (right?). And then this match. When will MLS do something about the refereeing situation? Until they do MLS will continue to be a joke of a league.

      • Geiger “Panama’d” the Union.

  20. Amobi ribeiro says:

    Leaving wawa, just dropped my coffee pumping gas, tripped over the gas line trying to wipe my windows. Attendant looks at me and goes “that’s just so Union”

  21. A thought came to me. MLS is a league of have’s and have not’s. Is the Open Cup not the venue or avenue to turn a team from a have not into a have? Is winning the Open Cup multiple times, how a team like Seattle, relatively small market (though huge fan base) is able to financially compete with the Galaxy’s of MLS? You get $250k allocation for an Open cup win. That in-turn allows you next year to expand/better your roster. Thus, in-theory, allowing you to better your club. For a team as woeful as the Union, should winning the Open Cup not be the goal for the next few seasons? Basically, ignoring the MLS season to better the club through Open Cup titles. I think we can all agree, the Union are light years away from an MLS title. Even if they win the Open Cup this year, that allocation money will not make a deep playoff run viable next year. Especially having to play in Champions league(which they have no shot at competing in). So again, would it not behoove the Union to concentrate on the Open Cup for foreseeable future, in-order to improve the club?

    • I think you could try to focus on the cup… But the problem is you’re likely to run into a “have” team that will have no problem taking care of you. I’m having a hard time deluding myself into thinking the Union have a realistic chance of beating Kansas City. Yes, KC is playing for a position in a tough conference, but you better believe they’re going to go for it on Sept. 30.
      What drives me nuts with this team is that it can show you signs of ability. It can compete with good clubs. And the clincher is that it doesn’t just go and lose to good teams. that I can live with. I get why the U can get spanked by L.A. But I can’t take these games where the U just beats itself. Again and again and again, this team puts in an effort that could have should have resulted in a win and they just blow it. After Le Toux scored and Geiger signals for 5 more minutes, if I’m on the Union, I’m going to be playing like my life depended on it. How can this team, which has seen this sort of chance blown up in their face countless times, not be ready for it? It’s unbearable.
      My issue is that when we talk about making this team better, I wonder. Is it just as easy as buying better players? Why can’t it defend? This team absolutely sucks at the skill its coach most values. It’s mind boggling.

      • I agree the Union will run into better competition in the Open Cup. They will probably lose to K.C. But the Open Cup is the only place the Union actually look capable of winning. They show heart in the Cup. Desire. Determination. They actually have a shot at wining it. Whereas the MLS Cup, they don’t. I realize I’m grasping at straws. But what other choice is there?

  22. Same old, same old. Well we knew they weren’t making the playoffs, but that still needed to be a win. Also while everyone is saying how amazing Sean Johnson was and I agree we do have to stop kicking the ball directly at that GK. Also, can we discuss how bad McCarthy is. I know he is a rookie and I’ve said it myself he shouldn’t be in goal, but HELLO! You, McCarthy, just got beat on the same 3 plays you should learn after one. Every goal was a cross across the 6 yard box which he should have cut off. Yes you protect the near post and anything through your box needs to be yours. Okay I’ll give them the first one and the last one he tried to cut off, but you need to learn sometime and to get beat on the same 3 plays is uncalled for. Oh and don’t stand there with your hands in the air like defense what are you doing. You should be telling them what to do and who they didn’t mark. A goalie needs to organize their backline and since Mondragon and MacMath mid last season this team has not had that. While the playoffs were not happening a long time ago this team needs to rebuild for sure. We still need to get rid of contracts and someone who can analysis players needs to bring in the right people at the right price to solidify this team together. Glaring needs as has always been the case this year and forever will be for this team LB, GK, Wingers, CB, CDM (Since ours are injury prone and some over the hill) in this order. No I do not believe Vittoria should be kept. Nando while I like his effort is also a no. Edu should be traded. M’bohli gone, Carroll gone (even though he has been the most consistent player on this team all year), Creavalle gone, Lahoud gone, Blake trade, McCarthy loan, Lee gone/loaned, Casey gone, Wenger, trade. Players to keep Chaco (without him this team is nothing) Nogs (still the engine of the team), Barnetta, Ayuk, Pfeffer, Sapong, Gaddis, Marquez, Fabinho (only as a backup defender/ midfielder), Le Toux (fine off the bench, did an acceptable job last night off the bench and can do it for another year), Sylvestre can be backup, Personally I’d bring back MacMath (but I don’t see him wanting to come back so you need a new GK).

    • Agree. McCarthy was completely schooled by Johnson. Hope he learned something. Too often, I’m looking at McCarthy with his feet stuck to the ground. … To his credit, he really shouldn’t be in the position of being the starting goalkeeper yet.

      • I’m really not a fan of McCarthy. I don’t think he’s even close to an MLS goaltender. He’s done well in the cup, but I think that’s mostly because he has limited his mistakes.

      • Agreed, I am not saying McCarthy can’t be a good GK but right now he shouldn’t be near the field for the Union. He should’ve been loaned at the start of the season along with Blake if they were never gonna play him. And the GK that should’ve been on this roster then would’ve been M’bohli and MacMath (and after M’bohli blew up like we all knew it would). We still would’ve had a competent GK in MacMath.

      • I agree Blake needs to play. Somewhere, somehow. I agree MacMath is competent. But, I’d say the same as Sylvestre. And if I had my druthers, I’d rather have Sylvestre. Better size. More athletic. Though none of those mentioned is the answer for me.

      • No now that this team screwed around with things MacMath and Sylvestre are neither the answer. Had they continued to develop MacMath he could have been on par with some of the most consistent and better options in MLS, but that ship has sailed. Unfortunately as the Union do they now made themselves a giant hole that will likely not be filled just like when they got rid of Harvey at LB.

  23. Everyone knows MLS officiating is inept and corrupt. However the players on the field are the ones who after scoring the go ahead goal allow the ball to travel the length of the field only to wind up in a mad scramble leading to the tying goal AGAIN! The same lame excuses for the last 3 plus years, and yes you are having a typical Union season! Keep relying on way too many mediocre players and doing everything on the cheap. You are what your record and history says you are. You are the ones who put themselves in the position to have the game and possibly any playoff hopes come down to poor officiating. Pathetic!

    • Inept, yes. A thousand times yes. But I’m not willing to go to “corrupt” when it comes to MLS refs. “Do not attribute to malice that which can easily be explained by incompetence,” to paraphrase Hanlon’s Razor.

  24. J in Section 125 says:

    Now I know how Charlie Brown feels every time Lucy pulls the football away from him and he lands flat on his back. That is how I felt leaving PPL last night.

  25. McCarthy is trash. Unless Blake is completely terrible in training there should be no reason not to start him the rest of the year. The only reason I can think of is that the FO is trying to build worth for these other guys to trade them.
    Ayuk is frustrating to watch. He does some great things, but I don’t think he always gets himself opened or into the most dangerous spaces.
    I’m curious at this point what the best starting 11 is for this team when everyone is healthy. Would that team be much, if any, better?

    • I’m willing to accept mistakes from Ayuk; he’s only 18 and learning. If he’s still making these sorts of mistakes next year and in 2017, then it’s an issue.

      • From what I have seen yes Ayuk makes mistakes, but he is already often learning from them. Plus he gets into the box and pushes to take players one on one he is someone needed on this team regardless of his frustrations. Now as was said if his skills and learning do not continue to grow then he becomes a liability kind of like when Wenger is on the field.

      • Agreed. He has a certain sort of “cockiness” that’s needed to take somebody on one-on-one. His defending through the year has improved, as has his overall positioning. And so I’m willing to suffer some growing pains…

      • I like Ayuk. The kid, and I stress kid, has been one of the lone bright spots for me. I’m also willing to forgive his growing pains. But even if he’s making some of the same mistakes next year or the one after, I’d still give him time. He’d be 20 in two years. Now if he were 25-26 still making the same mistakes then I’d be really worried or ready to give up on him. For once, I think he’s someone worth having patience for.

    • Yes, much better. Sylvestre-Gaddis-Edu-Marquez-Fabihno-Nogs-Lahoud-LeToux-Chaco-Barnetta-CJ. Much, much better. 5 of those listed didn’t start last night, including the two best all around players on the team…Mo and Nogs.

  26. Ironically, I thought the officiating last night was the best I’d seen all year at PPL Park. No red cards, even calls both sides, etc. Yes, some missed calls, but when are the calls always correct?

    Then the SOB section started once again obsessively demanding that the official commit a homosexual act with them. Again, and again, and again.

    The end result was… no even up call was given.

    Perhaps if you don’t make it personal, the official will even up the calls? What would you do as an official if you realized you blew a call? You’d even it up later. Unless the fans make it personal. Then why bother?

    That “suck on my balls” chant didn’t exist in the first two seasons at PPL Park, and check to see how many PKs we were awarded those seasons.

    Just sayin’

    The officials are human. Why make them hate SoB, hate the Union, and hate officiating at PPL Park? That does us no good.

    • If a ref is influenced by the crowd he should not be a professional ref. Cause do you think if fans asked nicely he would change the call or even it up? This is not how officiating is done. You call the game you see and can not be influenced, by the crowd, missed calls, and arguments from players. Were the calls bad sure, but to say the fans influence the refs is a far stretch to me. Regardless of any chant.

    • Really? That was an officiating disaster between he and the linesman. Be a pro and you won’t be seen, noticed, or bothered. That should be the goal of every referee. Somehow, Geiger always seems to be noticed. Usually for the wrong reasons.

    • That ‘suck on my balls’ chant absolutely existed in the first 2 years and it is without question a disgrace besmirching the River End. Go on argue me. Oh that’s right I don’t go to the games anymore so I have no stake or voice.

      • Definitely not in 2010, but if in 2011, then later in the season. Then SoB leaders tried to calm it down a bit — not for defense of the referees, but for the sake of the families who attend the games. I totally agree that professional referees should remain unbiased while people are verbally attacking them with organized chants. I also think waiters who are treated rudely shouldn’t put things into the food they serve either. But people are not perfect.

  27. Our back four suck……….you put THREE in the back of the net…….you need to win that match. Any CB pairing we have is going to get sucked out of shape with Gaddis and Fabs as your flank backs. That match was sooooooo Union last night. A real keeper doesn’t flop around there like a fish out of water either……he comes out hard and cleans those two guys out on the near post and gets big. If you concede three at home……you probably don’t deserve to be playoff bound anyway. This squad has one match that matters left this season………

  28. Two positives from this mess that haven’t had much air time:
    1) We actually scored a very nice goal directly from a corner kick! And threatened on others.
    2) I thought Curtin’s subs were appropriate and well timed (not too late, and influenced the game). I get that it easier when the available subs are viable contributors (Sapong, LeToux, and Lahoud), but still. They weren’t kept in the back pocket until the 85th minute.

    • I guess someone had to talk about the positives. And you named 2. I’d also add that it was nice to see the offense working without Nogs. The defense still sucked ***. But it does give hope that the O might get even better when Nogs comes back.

      • In some ways, I think, looking at the positives, the focus has to be on the fact that we can now really see that the weakness is with the defense. Should be a no brainer when you’re leading the league in goals allowed. But we saw last night a team that was dangerous on the counter and could create even without Nogs. Defense was piss poor. Every one on the back four made bad mistakes. McCarthy stunk, too. If we had Johnson in our goal, we win 5-0.

    • Another positive…….the MegaMan tifo in the River End. That was/is the bee’s knees. I don’t know why the Fox camera crew didn’t show all three sections of it. That’s what the season has come down to…..the merits of tifo. So it goes.

  29. There was one moment in the game late in the second half that gave me a chuckle in a “dark humor” sort of way. Mike Magee came on for a Chicago corner and I remembered him referred to as “the husk of Mike Magee” So I thought, “here comes the ‘husk of Mike Magee’ ” and the very first act of “the husk” was to run on the field and almost without pause body slam Lahoud to the ground. No foul called. But Referee Gieger did spend some time talking very seriously to Lahoud afterwards. Warning him off “the husk”?

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