Player ratings / Union

Player ratings and analysis: Union 3-3 Chicago Fire

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union has been using a pretty consistent lineup since Andrew Wenger’s concussion and Vincent Nogueira’s leg injury: CJ Sapong up top with Sebastien Le Toux and Cristian Maidana in support. Brian Carroll and Michael Lahoud holding. Ray Gaddis and Fabinho at fullback. The only position of regular rotation has been in central defense, where Maurice Edu has been in and out of the lineup.

Eventually, Jim Curtin was going to have to rotate. And in doing so, he was likely to expose the squad’s disturbing lack of depth.

Chicago continually found time to look up and find passes from right to left in the first half.

Chicago continually found time to look up and find passes from right to left in the first half. The Union have a good tight shape, but not enough pressure on the ball.

Thin in back

Importantly, though, the depth issue was more a function of who wasn’t rested than who was. That is to say, the Union’s problem was not that Steven Vitoria, Fernando Aristeguieta, and Warren Creavalle were bad (though the latter did not cover himself in glory during a very hesitant opening half hour). The problem was that there was nobody available to spell the players who have logged the most minutes over the past few months: Ray Gaddis and Fabinho.

And both players looked understandably tired: Gaddis a step behind Kennedy Igboananike on Chicago’s opener and turned inside out by the same player for the second; Fabinho pushed around on the first and asleep on the second. Both players will take some blame for another in a long line of subpar defensive displays, but honestly, this was coming.

Jim Curtin has said it, and it’s undeniably true: The Union put their fullbacks on islands. They ask Gaddis and Fabinho to play very aggressively, and opposing teams that find time in midfield flip this aggression on its head by feeding balls into the corners. Gaddis and Fabinho, then, do a lot of running. And with Warren Creavalle the only player who seems capable of offering either fullback a rest, get used to mercurial performances from the wide defenders as the minutes pile up and consistency dips.

In the first 15 minutes, the Fire attacked up the right wing, then switched play to establish possession in the Union half. Philly needed to get more pressure on the ball to prevent the switches of play.

In the first 15 minutes, the Fire attacked up the right wing, then switched play to establish possession in the Union half. Philly needed to get more pressure on the ball to prevent the switches of play.

Chicago with a plan

The Fire were awful midweek, so they almost had to look more coordinated by comparison. And they did.

At this point, it is no secret that the Union have a big soft spot in their defense in the left channel. Gaddis’ aggression is often paired with a conservative central defender like Ethan White or Steven Vitoria — players low on confidence who tend to be reactive. The hole that appeared between Gaddis and Vitoria on Sunday was not so much the focal point of Chicago’s attack as it was a safe place from which the Fire could establish a presence in the final third. By establishing possession up the left, Chicago could cycle the ball to the right wing where the Union’s slow rotation allowed Lovel Palmer to step high and work with Patrick Nyarko to get behind Philly’s defense.

In the first half, Philly attacked up the right flank, with Maidana central in all that went well.

In the first half, Philly attacked up the right flank, with Maidana central in all that went well.

The Union’s slow rotation was the result of a number of factors: Tranquillo Barnetta’s tired legs, Warren Creavalle’s questionable positioning, and the entire defense’s tendency to stay deep once the Fire penetrated the final third.

Too often, the Fire would swing the ball across the formation and find Fabinho stepping tight to his marker with the rest of the back four hanging three yards deep in the box. For an attacker like Nyarko, tight defense is only effective if his vertical runs are restricted by a good offsides line. Philly did not have that, and the Fire created havoc by forcing the Union to defend while retreating, with the expected consequences.

Why did it work?

The most interesting aspect of Chicago’s offensive success on Sunday was how it was less about the Fire creating a functional offense than it was about the Union lacking the legs to execute their defense. For the second consecutive match, there was zero push from the Fire in the middle of the pitch, with everything coming up the wings. The difference on Sunday was the the Union were slower to rotate and close down in wide areas, giving Michael Stephens — who had a strong match — and the Fire back line more time to pick out the right pass or switch the angle of attack.

On the 2nd Fire goal, the Union are set up well, with one CB supporting the fullback and the other marking. Fabinho has an eye on his man at the back post, he just starts ball watching once Igboananike beats Gaddis.

On the second Fire goal, the Union are set up well, with one CB supporting the fullback and the other marking. Fabinho has an eye on his man at the back post, he just starts ball watching once Igboananike beats Gaddis.

The Fire didn’t get much better, Philly just looked tired.

Additionally, the lightning in a bottle that Jim Curtin captured by pairing Carroll and Lahoud in midfield was absent with Creavalle as the vice captain’s partner. Creavalle’s enthusiasm was undone by his positional naivete, as he dropped too deep when recovering and drifted too far from Carroll when pressing.

A hallmark of the Lahoud-Carroll partnership is how they tend to resemble a central defensive pairing, with one player smartly sitting when the other steps to the ball. It’s a difficult balance to strike, and it could be argued that Lahoud and Carroll only pull it off because they are so reluctant to sacrifice defensive positioning to join offensive rushes. It is also notable that the double-defensive pivot has yet to be tested against a playoff-bound team.

Aside from the two very preventable goals they scored, Chicago had no chances from good positions in the second half. Again, this game was more about fatigue and mental mistakes than bad defense overall.

Aside from the two very preventable goals they scored, Chicago had no chances from good positions in the second half. Again, this game was more about fatigue and mental mistakes than bad defense overall.

The hard truth

Since knocking off DC United and the Red Bulls in back to back matches in May, the Union have won three games: Two were against good teams — Columbus and Seattle — who were just trying to squeak by the Union with neutered elevens. The other was against a Portland side that looked as if they just wanted to get back to their own time zone.

At this point, it’s time to admit that the team’s problems are systemic: The Union gamble on defense in order to start breakouts, because counterattacks are by far the team’s best opportunity to score. The gambling, however, has not justified its continued use. The question for Jim Curtin, Mike Sorber, and the rest of the Union coaching staff, then, is what to do when you need to create turnovers in midfield to score, but gambling to create those turnovers creates as many problems as it solves?

To be fair, Curtin could answer by saying this is a moot point: When Edu, Nogueira, and Maidana are healthy, and Barnetta is up to full speed, the Union will have enough technicians on the pitch to play a more possession-oriented game, pinning teams back so isolating the fullbacks isn’t such a risky endeavor.

Hard to argue. All one can do is point to Nogueira’s lengthy injury record, Maidana’s slightly-less lengthy injury record, and the way well-prepared teams set up to force the Union to play through their fullbacks.

Nobody is denying that the Union’s best eleven is a fairly formidable squad. The problem is that MLS is grueling, and the best teams adjust tactics to accommodate squad rotation.

Philly has but one system: A more aggressive, pressing-oriented version of the counterattacking style that served Jim Curtin so well in the summer of 2014. With Barnetta, Nogueira, and Maidana in the midfield, they have an opportunity to build in a new direction. The last few weeks of this season should be focused on that goal: Building a midfield that can control the game offensively even when Maidana is skipping out to the wings.

Oh, and getting a look at Andre Blake. It’s time.

One issue with the Union's offense is that neither center midfielder was involved in the offensive half, making it difficult to hold possession.

One issue with the Union’s offense is that neither center midfielder was involved in the offensive half, making it difficult to hold possession.

The positives

The Union scored three goals. Two came from breathtaking counterattacks orchestrated by passing genius Chaco Maidana (who had an absurd seven key passes in addition to three assists). It took Sean Johnson putting in one of the best goalkeeping performances of the season to prevent Philly from running away with the mach.

So yeah, there were some pretty strong positives on Sunday.

The biggest positive (outside of Maidana’s passing which, again, deserved all the applause it received at PPL Park) was, unfortunately, also a negative. Fernando Aristeguieta proved that he is still quite capable of filling the striker role, popping up in the right place to get on the end of crosses again and again. The problem, which was easy to see if you were in the stands behind either goal, was finishing. The big Venezuelan scored with the only one of his five shots that hit the frame. Given more minutes, Aristeguieta may find that confidence and rhythm to place more of his shots on goal. But his role right now is not going to grant him ample time on the pitch. CJ Sapong has earned the right to start in the immediate future, and Aristeguieta is going to have to become more clinical to successfully fill the supporting role he finds himself in.

The other encouraging sign for Philly was the continued evolution of Tranquillo Barnetta on the wing. Though the Swiss international is clearly short of full fitness, his intelligent movement adds another dimension to Union attacks. When Philly was able to hold the ball in the opponent’s half, Barnetta picked out clever runs across the formation, filling the space Maidana left behind and neither deep-lying midfielder stepped into.

Ideally, Barnetta will combine with Nogueira charging through from deeper positions. But for the time being, fans will simply have to console themselves with the potential of such a relationship.

What next

Jim Curtin basically asked this question in his post-match presser when he said the team keeps inventing new ways to blow leads. What is next for the Union? Another late season swoon that reveals them to be the worst team in MLS? A tardy revival driven by Nogueira’s return and Barnetta’s growth?

The unsavory truth hinted at by the above questions is that, over a year into Jim Curtin’s tenure, it is still unclear which direction the Union are heading. Are they the DC United of 2013, failing because of injuries and a poorly constructed roster? Destined to rebound with a manager young enough and tactically flexible enough to morph his ideas to fit his roster?

Or are they Chicago Fire? A club so determined not to admit they are in a deep hole that they would rather be buried then commit to the slow process of ladder building?

Right now, all that is clear is that the Union are not Philly tough, at least not the way Jim Curtin means it.

Curtin means mentally tough. He means that pulling on the jersey feels like putting the expectations of an entire city on your shoulders, and basking in that pressure. It means looking your problems in the face instead of answering each loss with facile soundbites woven with generalities like “doing a better job” or “being stronger mentally.”

The Union have proven to be extremely accurate at identifying their problems but extremely unclear on how they plan to fix the issues.

Philly Tough should never have been defined as giving yourself a long, hard look in the mirror. It is what you do after that mirror time that matters. And the Union have yet to figure that out.

Player ratings

John McCarthy – 6

Better distribution from McCarthy, who smartly kept his kicks in the center of the pitch where Aristeguieta could challenge for them. Only forced into one save, and given no chance on the three goals.

Ray Gaddis – 2

Clearly tired, Gaddis was a step slow and could not sustain tight pressure for ninety minutes, getting caught moving his feet instead of his hips on the second goal and moving the ball too slowly around the back.

Steven Vitoria – 4

Not a great performance, but far from terrible. Perhaps Vitoria is still rounding into form, but right now it looks like he tops out as a replacement-level defender with a hefty price tag.

Richie Marquez – 4

Showed off that speed and athleticism to cover for Fabinho and pulled the defense into a high line despite Vitoria’s reticence to leave space behind. Marquez looks like a developing player with the typical peaks and valleys in form. Still the highest ceiling of any dedicated CB on the roster.

Fabinho – 4

Great run, great goal. Fabinho’s bursts forward make him a crucial weapon in the Union’s dedicated counterattacking game. I’ll blame tired legs on the lackluster defensive display that appeared to be a step back in the Brazilian’s development. Chicago was determined to work up the right wing, and Fabinho played into that by staying tight when he needed to play angles.

Brian Carroll – 6

Look, what more can you say about BC at this point? DC United has Davy Arnaud and the Union have Carroll, two elder statesmen at different ends of the petulance spectrum who have proven equally important to their teams. There are few dedicated defensive midfielders in MLS, so watching Carroll turn from a midfield sweeper to a player who can press from angles that close off passing lanes has been truly impressive. The role that he played during his heyday may be a thing of the past, yet Carroll has somehow adopted a younger man’s game, like an old flamethrowing pitcher learning to paint the corners in baseball. Hats off to BC, who keeps bringing it week after week.

Warren Creavalle – 3

Remember what Michael Lahoud looked like when he first came to Philly? That was Creavalle against Chicago. The energy and athleticism pushed the player toward the ball like magnetic fields, leading to both good tackles and, too often, overcommitment. Creavalle was positionally tentative, starting deeper than necessary and making up the ground between him and the ball carrier with an excitement that often left him clutching at dust. There is a good fullback somewhere in Creavalle, but the discipline to play a double-pivot is lacking.

Eric Ayuk – 4

Ayuk’s night can be summed up by his first half passing chart, which shows that all but one passes in the offensive half went wide (to Maidana usually). Ayuk struggled to beat his man off the dribble and was reduced to a ball-mover. He faded as the match wore on but still popped up in almost every counterattack. Not the best night, but the teenager should still be the first option off the bench in front of Andrew Wenger.

Tranquillo Barnetta – 4

Still a step slow and a bit peripheral to the game as a whole. That Barnetta comes close to scoring once a match without being heavily involved is a testament to his intelligence. That he has yet to be heavily involved in a match shows how the team is struggling to figure out how to use him.

Cristian Maidana – 9

He’s on the field to make plays. He made a lot of plays.

Fernando Aristeguieta – 6

A set piece goal! Unfortunately, Aristeguieta may look back on this match and remember the misses more than the finish.


Michael Lahoud – 5

Chicago was iced out of the middle of the park once Lahoud entered the match, and Igboananike’s goal was the only shot from a good position in the final thirty minutes. That said, Lahoud needs to be a bigger part of a possession game for the Union to control play when the go ahead.

CJ Sapong – 6

Sapong got involved and helped the Union pin the Chicago line deeper so they had space to counterattack up the right flank. A solid performance indicative of Sapong’s good form.

Sebastien Le Toux – 7

A cameo, but an extremely effective one. Le Toux was dynamic coming off the wing.

Geiger counter – 0

An awful, horrendous refereeing performance. Embarrassing. Here’s something I haven’t admitted publicly before: I was impressed with Mark Geiger’s reffing at the World Cup. He was, dare I say, quite good.

What. Has. Happened? In the Gold Cup and again last night, Geiger was inconsistent with his calls, inconsistent with his cards, missed some calls completely, and generally blustered around the pitch staring players down instead of cooling things off.

Just… embarrassing.


  1. “The Union scored three goals. Two came from breathtaking counterattacks orchestrated by passing genius Chaco Maidana (who had an absurd seven key passes in addition to three assists).”

    Whoscored actually has Maidana at 10 key passes. Maybe they include the assists?

  2. To quote Alicat215…. ‘Epic Fail’ By Union.
    All the good burnt by the extreme bad of allowing a team to score YET AGAIN immediately after scoring themselves.
    Off with their heads!

  3. We all owe Brian Carroll a debt of gratitude. And from some an apology.

    • Where I come from son that comes in the form of a fruit basket. And you dare not skimp on the Pears.

    • ***raises hand, bows head****

    • I’m glad to see him join the attack on occasion and simply put a shot on frame. He’s not on the field to create offensive chances for us, but he nearly created a goal by blasting one at Johnson that Le Toux nearly put home on the rebound. They do that against any other keeper and it’s going in.

    • I’ve apologized before, and he’s done so well this year I’ll say it a third time, I was wrong. Thank you BC for making a playoff birth even the remotest possibility. Because without him, there is no hope this year.

    • Completely agree! True professional in every way, and playing as well as ever this year.

  4. Maidana was a couple of great Sean Johnson saves away from a 10.
    Geiger could easily have been given a negative score. There were a couple of times when he could easily have lost complete control of the game with his inconsistent calls (aside from the debacle at the end).

  5. I felt like we saw a few capable backups and spot-starters out there…who should not all be playing at once. Vitoria is ok, if Lahoud is in front to help out. Creavalle will be a good late-game sub for tired legs.
    Marquez is a solid player, but he really benefits from partnering with Edu this season.
    I still feel like this game was better than it felt. I was emotionally raw (we all were) after it was over. There were 3 defensive letdowns, albeit one due to tired legs and absolute disbelief over a series of missed calls. But aside from those 3 HUGE moments, we had the better run of play, the better chances, and we obviously the better team.
    But we finished it like we always do. And that is depressing as hell.

  6. I have a hard time accepting the line of reasoning that McCarthy stood no chance against those three goals. I’ve never been a goalie, so I don’t know, but I rarely see other goal keepers look so nailed to the pitch when a ball is crossed in front of their goal. There’s not even a reaction. I don’t think it would have taken too much better a keeper to get his hands on at least one of them. — Not that he deserves the blame for the goals. I just think he put in a 4. At best.

    • +1
      McCarthy had a bad game, and not just by comparison to Sean Johnson. He did nothing to control the box and even misread the play on the one goal where he probably had no chance. Hard to believe that Blake wouldn’t be better.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      The first two goals were of a piece, tap-ins from six to eight yards out. Once the ball got to the shooter any degree of placement at all is unstoppable provided they are on frame. So the question becomes why was he tight on his line, were his feet set (I.e., is his body ready to dive), and does he have the athleticism to dive far enough to cut off the ball.
      As I review both goals in my mind, he was tight to the line in case the ball carrier shot at the near post. I would have to review video to see whether he was set. For him the dive makes contact with ball at full fingertip extension perhaps but does not possess it, that is, puts a rebound out there right in front of the goal with the goalkeeper sprawled full length on the ground having to recover before he can resume defending the rebound. Furthermore the dive has to be timed properly. And remember a dive is essentially a ballistic event, post launch modifications are difficult and extremely limited in scope. Finally, with all the respect and gratitude we all have for John McCarthy for how he has stepped forward into the breach this season, he does not have the elite athleticism of Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid or Andre Blake for three examples.
      Thanks for making me figure it out for myself!

      • In having played GK and knowing this league and the way it is. McCarthy should have blocked one of the three crosses across his box. Ok the first one you don’t know if he goes near post or passes, but on the second you expect a cross there are few imaginative players in this league who are going to attempt a near post shot on a keeper when they have a runner. The third well i guess he made a half hearted attempt at blocking the cross, but at that moment he should be going all out to rip that thing away from anyway own team or not.

    • We’ve been criticizing Mccarthy for being far too agressive at times this year. So he stays at home more often, attempting to let his defenders work in front of him, and we skewer him for that too? Can’t have it both ways. For my money, I’ll take the more conservative guy that got us through that red bulls cup match

  7. Was this the first-ever 0, Geiger counter or otherwise?

    • My money would be on Corben Bone. How about that game last year in KC where he came on as a sub and within 45 seconds got sent right back off with a red card? You don’t get a 0 for that, what would you get one for? I remember him getting a negative 3 one game- turned out it was just a typo but I felt the ranking was fair anyway.

  8. I agree with you that Geiger did a very good job at the WC, and my theory is that after working hard to raise his level for that tournament he now finds the lowly Gold Cup and MLS beneath him and simply doesn’t put in a shift. Either way, that was a shocking refereeing performance. I was half expecting a Ben Olsen style post-game tirade (“we get the same clown show every week”) out of Curtin.

    • I kinda want to see Curtin lose his shit a little bit. Just once. Throw a chair, rip off his tie and stomp on it 50 times for no apparent reason or something. He did look like he was about to go Red Hulk on Saturday after the game. I want to see him follow through.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Pete, we have no idea what goes down behind closed doors in the locker room, nor should we. Some things in a team’s existence stay within the team, the concerns of anxious parents to the contrary.

      • I agree, OSC. I admire Curtin for his discipline and think he’s overall better because of it. And I believe he’s passionate. Not to mention he’s consistently been honest. I’d still like to see a crack in the exterior — something akin to when a baseball manager rushes an ump to get tossed from a game to fire up the troops.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Gets you a red card in soccer, and often in baseball. Umps have tossed me a few times!

      • Jim Presti says:

        I imagine Curtin ripped them a new asshole. He looked pretty pissed walking off the pitch. Wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that…

  9. The only reason for Maidana, Gaddis, Fabinho, and Carroll to travel to Montreal is because they need their fix of poutine and St. Ambroise. Please rest these merry gentlemen!

    • Who plays fullback? Lahoud and Crevalle? Le Toux? Not really any options other than emergency fill-in players…

      • It’s time for emergency fill-in players

      • I say we give Wenger a shot at outside back. He played center back in college and he is big, athletic, and fast. He is not technically skilled enough to be a true winger but he would still be able to get in the attack, I think he would be a much better outside back

      • He still needs to be cleared in the league’s concussion protocol.
        Should get an update during Curtin’s weekly presser on Thursday.

  10. 6 for McCarthy? Flat footed, poor decision making…and gave up 3 goals. Keeping the ball in play on goal kicks doesn’t do a lot for me.

    • Agree that 6 is a little high for a game with 3 goals against. Let us remember that when the season started McCarthy was 3rd on the depth chart, only supposed to play when both M’bolhi and Blake were away on national team duty. He is still a rookie, thrown into the fire.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Johnson let up 3 goals as well. What rating would you give him if you were rating the Chicago players?

    • @Kacey – I use 6 to indicate an average performance. I don’t think an average goalie makes any of those saves. A front post run and first time shot, a hard, low cross, and a finish into the roof after a double-handball on the endline. I just don’t think non-Johnson/Hamid goalies save those.

      • + 1

      • Anybody But Sakky says:

        Those were good goals, but he didn’t even make an effort on a couple and he failed to come out more than a few times when he should have. At best a 4 and I woulda tagged him with a 3. I still love him, and Sylvestre, for their play, but if we don’t have Blake or McMath as our primary next year I will be very disappointed.

      • I understand your reasoning for the 6. It makes sense. But I still can’t agree. McCarthy gets a four for me.

      • Not a 6 performance even if that is average to you as he clearly performed below average. Getting beat on 3 similar plays for 3 goals. I think a number of goalies in this league cut off the cross and save at least one of those goals. Possible players making that save Rimando Ricketts, Hamid, johnson, robles, shuttleworth frei.

      • Jim Presti says:

        +1 Below average play. There are a handful that make a save or get a paw on that cross. Toss in Ousted and maybe even Irwin Kwarasey and even Clark or Melia and we have most of the MLS starting keepers

  11. 1. give credit to Curtin for making the substitutions earlier this week, finally.

    2. I agree that this team is not mentally tough, which is due partly to a lack of leadership. We need a grizzled veteran like Mondragon to yell and motivate on the field. Without the arm band could you tell who the captain is? Maybe Barnetta can do that, but the on-field leadership is still sorely lacking.

  12. Obviously you can’t lay everything on Mark Geiger but I, for one, am NEVER defending him ever again. Not that i did all that much before Sunday. It’s such a “joke” as Ben Olsen rightfully said 2 seasons ago…

  13. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I have been pondering not playing Blake.
    The best I can do is an analogy that holds at best only partially to what Bora miliutinovich faced before 1994 preparing the USMNT for that World Cup. Three candidates (Friedel, Keller and Meola) only one of whom was available for full immersion with rest of his teammates, especially the defenders, because the two better ones were club players overseas.
    Bora went with Meola to try to create a whole that was greater than the sum of its parts.
    Curtin’s is extremely loyal, perhaps to a fault, and does not change hastily, granting multiple chances to grow and improve, a good policy for a teacher by and large. Fabinho overalll counts as a successful reclamation project, for example (Many of us owe him El Pachyderm’s suggested apology and sieve!’s fruit basket heavily laced with pears! Mea Culpa.)
    That’s the best I can do answering why no Blake. If tomorrow we meet U2 in USL playing at Lehigh, Andre Blake is a prime reason. Me, I would recommend they hire Bill Becher away from Harrisburg, if he would come, to be the coach. Long-term success in the league, adaptable. Compliments the Harrisburg organization as it robs them. Unlikely though.

    • But remember that when they got M’bolhi he was anointed the immediate starter over MacMath, who was playing pretty well. That seemed to be foisted on Curtin. And remember they traded up in the draft to get Blake at #1, so why isn’t Sak exerting the same pressure to play Blake, another highly priced asset?

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      With all due respect to all “Blake Must Play” proponents, I must strongly disagree, based on one factor alone that Blake has little control over: his physical makeup.
      Stand Blake sideways in a lineup of Sean Johnson, Tim Howard, Brad Guzan and Faryd Mondragon and, by comparison, he will disappear. He may be marvelously agile, fleet of foot, have the hands of a magician and the brains of a soccer Einstein, but there is a reason why well-muscled GK’s dominate in the top ranks: durability.
      The position requires frequent hard contact with the ground, opponents, fellow players and even goalposts (cf: Pete Pappas). When I look at Blake, I see limbs more likely to break than to survive impact. Maybe he can muscle up, but that will be several years and too many injuries from now. We should not have to wait that long.
      The loan is withering MacMath’s development. Our other options are young, promising and require patience and the guiding hands of an accomplished GK coach. Do we possess any of those attributes?

      • Jim Presti says:

        I think part of the reason many people want to see Blake play is to see what he can actually do in a real match. Whether its to see if he’s worth starting, as depth, or even to boost his transfer value; it’s worth starting him. The Union have known commodities in Sylvestre and McCarthy. Not a knock on either play, but we know their capabilities and limits.

      • No we don’t and MacMath was a young promising talent as well that they shipped off. I can’t stand this FO and its mistakes after mistakes.

      • Jim Presti says:

        MacMath is a reclamation project at this point. Rotting on the bench in CO. He’ll be a back-up somewhere next season I’m sure. Doubt he stays with the Union or the Rapids

      • el pachyderm says:

        If Andre Blake hasn’t put on 10lbs of muscle since being drafted then that further indicts the Union for mishandling him…not Andre Blake. Let the kid play. Oh and put him on a 4000k a day strength training program.

      • This goes back to what I posted last week about the Union getting in touch with their friends at the Eagles and having a good, long talk about Chip Kelly’s sports science stuff. It’s a potential competitive advantage they can gain over other MLS teams until the rest of the sports world gets further along the curve.

  14. I must say I kinda like our team. I know our record stinks, but maybe we can pull a DC. Finish as worst team in MLS, but win in the open cup, make champions league and be a real contender the following year. Hope it’s not a pipe dream.

    -As well as Fabinho has played, he must be replaced with a solid left back. I give him some of the blame for 1st goal bc he went for the steal, actually won it, lost it back on an unlucky bounce and they make their run and score. We also need to replace Vitoria ASAP. Especially with all the money he gets. He should have at least tried to block the cross on 1st goal.
    Second goal Fabinho totally fell asleep while watching the game.
    -Would love to see Edu,Nogs,Chaco and Barnetta together in midfield with Nando up top. Like Marquez Gaddis. Just need to improve those 2 spots I mentioned. Le2, Sapong, Caroll and Lahoud coming off the bench when needed is satisfactory for me.

    -Time will tell.

    • Agree with most, but why Nando over Sapong in the starting lineup? The latter has proven to be more dynamic and a better finisher this year.

  15. Here’s a question I had that came up during this game – among other times – that the far more knowledgeable posters here can answer for me.
    Why is removing your shirt during a goal celebration a yellow card? I mean, really – who cares if a guy (or gal, I guess) removes the jersey and waves it at the crowd or whatever?

    • I believe the yellow card for that came about because it’s viewed as aggressiveness/incitement towards opposing fans/players.

    • Because the people who write the rules do not like to be reminded of how out of shape they are…?

      • Heh. That’s about the best answer I’ve ever been able to come up with, too.

      • Is it something about dress code? I.E. like when they step on the field the shirts need to be tucked, the socks and shoes just so, etc…?

    • Jim Presti says:

      excessive celebration and unsportsmanlike conduct

      • Thanks. Why is it considered either of those, though? Or, putting that another way why is Le Toux removing his shirt a yellow, but a player being handed a Terrible Towel from the bench and running around the field with it not excessive celebration or unsportsmanship conduct? Or choreographed celebrations that involve multiple players?
        What is it, specifically, about shirts that makes it a yellow?

      • Jim Presti says:

        Honestly, I can’t answer that question -specifically the choreographed celebrations vs taking a shirt off. All cards on the table: I think taking your shirt off is stupid and giving a yellow for it is equally stupid.
        Realistically, I believe it is an IFAB rule that you cannot remove your jersey or even pull it over your head. In those cases, the referees are forced to comply with the rule and subsequent consequences. The point of the rule was to curb excessive celebration which may result in unsportsmanlike conduct from both teams on the pitch and inevitably result in the refereeing crew losing control of the match.

      • It’s an attempt to stop players from showing undershirts (or Sharpied abs) with political messages, profanity, ‘illegal’ brands, etc.

      • Thanks, Gents. Both of these make some sense, at least.

      • Jim Presti says:

        That’s a good point. Many companies want to see their branding on the outside of a players kit after they score. I’m sure their is a financial component to it as well

      • section 114 says:

        It was a mega trend a few years back and was getting out of control. Every freaking goal was a topless shot. The mandatory yellow was a rule change to stop it.

      • Jim Presti says:

        I believe the rule was enacted a little over a decade ago. So its not just a recent issue

      • Section 114 says:

        Correct. I’m just old enough that that’s “a few years ago” — like every rule change since I stopped playing in college.

  16. Fat Uncle Phil from Urkel says:

    For his defending being in iffy form, I thought Ray looked decent in the attack this week. He should have had an assist if only Tranquillo could hit the broad side of a barn with a shot.

  17. Just want to chime in here to say that this analysis is top-notch. The Union were bad, the Fire were worse; somehow that meant split points in your place.

    From a Chicago perspective, some notes.

    – Geiger and crew clearly blew the handball call near the sideline on the final goal.

    – The Union’s defensive woes would’ve been more thoroughly exploited if Accam was near full fitness. Our Ghanaian Flash has been less than his best for a couple weeks since leaving a game early with a hamstring problem.

    – 100% agree that Creavelle’s inexperience was a huge issue with the Union controlling play. Carroll’s body language was that of a frustrated tutor at times.

    – We are the two worst teams in the East. It sucks.

    • Welcome. This site here is excellent. What is the equivalent Fire site?

      • I run Hot Time in the Old Town, so … my thing. It’s listed as ‘my website’ in my user thingy, I believe.

      • Nice! I enjoyed the article about how the Union ruined the Fire. It’s funny.
        Chicago and Philadelphia should be a little more simpatico, no? They’re not that different. We’re sandwiched between DC and NYC, which can make us a little bitter and sometimes hostile. You’re the best city around for hundreds of miles, which could make you arrogant, but your winters keep you humble.
        Also, midwest = friendly.

      • Also, both are big market sports towns that deserve better soccer clubs — or at least better performing soccer clubs. Chicago is the third largest and Philadelphia the fourth largest media markets. We’re not getting our sports dues.

      • the impression i get is that we are spoiled in philly and there isn’t always an equally good site for some other teams. no offense to you sean- this impression isn’t very well researched and is more of compliment to this site than it is a knock on other teams

      • section 114 says:

        I dunno. The Red Bulls have a great site called

      • el pachyderm says:

        Timbers have an excellent blog also.

  18. IT is kind of amusing to see a game dissected that was about as incoherent and disorganized as a Sunday morning game in Central Park.Pressing the ball with tired players. You mean there is no other solution? Come on!

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