Union / Union match reports

Match recap: Philadelphia Union 0-1 New England Revolution

Photo: Daniel Studio

Philadelphia Union missed a chance to make up ground on the field in the Eastern Conference playoff race on Saturday night, falling 1-0 to New England Revolution at PPL Park.

Losses by both NYCFC and Montreal meant the Union entered the match knowing that a victory could see them close in on the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. But after both sides exchanged momentum without creating clear chances, the Revolution took over in the second half.

Diego Fagundez found the breakthrough, racing onto Charlie Davies’ deft flick in the 51st minute and firing across his body to open the scoring. From then on, it was the visitors who looked likely score again as the Union faded under pressure from the insistent Lee Nguyen and New England’s buzzing attack.

With moments remaining in the match, Philly suffered an additional blow when Chaco Maidana was shown a straight red card for allegedly spitting at Nguyen after shoving him to the turf.

First Half

Looking to build on their important road victory in Montreal, Jim Curtin restored Vincent Nogueira to an attack-minded starting XI. But it was the Revolution who had the first dangerous chance of the match when Davies skipped passed Richie Marquez in the 7th minute. With the Union scrambling to recover, Davies picked out Fagundez’s run into the box, but the young winger skied his opportunity for an early opener.

The Union hit back quickly with a similar play at the other end. Ray Gaddis and Maidana combined to release CJ Sapong to the endline. But when Sapong cut back for Tranquillo Barnetta, it was the Union’s turn to miss a chance in front of goal, as the Swiss attacker shanked his effort wide of the far post.

Marquez put his body on the line in the 16th minute after Nguyen burst inside past Gaddis. Leaving the fullback in his wake, Nguyen had designs on the inside of the far netting, but Marquez bravely got his chest in the way to deny the opportunity.

Building through the midfield, the Union had the Revs scrambling in the 22nd when Sebastien Le Toux and Maidana released Barnetta for a first time strike, but Bobby Shuttleworth got down quickly to his right to beat away the shot. Following up on the play, Sapong forced Shuttleworth back into action as the Revs keeper sprawled at the striker’s feet to push the ball behind for a corner.

Maidana nearly grabbed the opener when the corner came short through Gaddis. But after eluding Fagundez, the playmaker drilled his shot to the wrong side of the near post.

Andre Blake had to react quickly in the 30th minute, diving to claim Nguyen’s through ball after Davies slipped behind the Union defense.

With the Union pressing numbers forward, Nguyen continued to find space in behind Brian Carroll and Nogueira. In the 34th minute, he sent a drive soaring just over the bar after eluding the Union midfield and finding time to fire.

Le Toux had an excellent chance to give the Union the lead just before the break, but after Barnetta sent him through on the left, the Union’s hottest attacker shot straight at Shuttleworth, who gratefully beat it away.

Second Half

It was the Revolution who came out with the momentum, and the Union had a heart-in-throat moment in the 49th minute. Nguyen’s trickery took him past Nogueira, who reached out and appeared to spin the Revs midfielder down by his head. Relief came when referee Chris Penso only showed Nogueira a yellow for the transgression.

Minutes later, the Revs caught the Union with a quick throw-in and found the opener. After Gaddis conceded possession, playing the ball out of bounds, the Revs had a chance to run at the Union defense. Steven Vitoria charged forward, but failed to get to Charlie Davies in time. Racing onto Davies’ flick, Fagundez was 1 v 1 with Marquez, jukes to find space, and unleashed his shot past a helpless Blake.

The Union looked to hit straight back, but Sapong was unable to keep his header down after the Union won a corner.

With Philadelphia struggling to retain possession, New England pressed forward looking for a second and they nearly found it in the 68th minute when Nguyen found a yard of space against Brian Carroll. But with a clean look at goal, Nguyen’s rasping shot was straight at a well-positioned Blake.

Sapong had another chance at a header in the Revs box in the 75th minute, but he again directed his header over the bar, this time off excellent service from Nogueira.

Nguyen sent a shot spinning just wide in the 78th minute. After Kelyn Rowe skipped past Gaddis, the Union defense dropped too deep allowing the onrushing Nguyen the chance to shoot, though he couldn’t direct it on frame.

Blake’s fingertips were all that kept the match close moments later after Eric Ayuk left a pass short and allowed the Revs to counter. With time and space to shoot, Nguyen curled his effort toward the corner, but Blake flew to his left, touching the ball around the post.

As the clock ticked to the 90th minute, substitute Fernando Aristeguieta found space to turn and fire in the box, but the Revs did just enough to deflect it behind.

At the other end, Blake flew off his line to deny substitute Juan Agudelo at close range after Scott Caldwell had played him in.

With the match nearly complete, Maidana was whistled for a shove into the back of Nguyen. The seemingly innocuous foul turned into a red card, as Penso went to the back pocket after Maidana appeared to spit in the direction of Nguyen on the ground.

After failing to make up ground in the East, the Union now must head to the west coast, where they face a resurgent San Jose Earthquakes side.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake; Fabinho (Fernando Aristeguieta ’77), Richie Marquez, Steven Vitoria, Ray Gaddis; Brian Carroll, Vincent Nogueira; Tranquillo Barnetta (Eric Ayuk ’65), Cristian Maidana, Sebastien Le Toux (Andrew Wenger ’73); CJ Sapong
Unused Substitutes: John McCarthy, Ethan White, Michael Lahoud, Warren Creavalle

New England Revolution
Bobby Shuttleworth; Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves, Andrew Farrell, Jeremy Hall; Jermaine Jones (Kobayashi ’62), Scott Caldwell; Kelyn Rowe, Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez (Teal Bunbury ’64); Charlie Davies (Juan Agudelo ’87)
Unused Substitutes: Brad Knighton, Kevin Alston, Steve Neumann, London Woodberry

Scoring Summary
NE — Diego Fagundez (Charlie Davies) — 51

Disciplinary Summary
PHI — Tranquillo Barnetta (Dissent) — 38
PHI — Vincent Nogueira (Unsporting Behavior) — 49
NE — Jermaine Jones (Not Visible) — 58
PHI — Brian Carroll (Unsporting Behavior) — 87
PHI — Cristian Maidana (Violent Conduct) — 90+4

Philadelphia Union New England Revolution
 12 Shots  13
 2 Shots on Target  6
 8 Shots off Target  5
 2 Blocked Shots  2
 5 Corner Kicks  4
 18 Crosses  16
 2 Offsides  1
 13 Fouls  18
 3 Yellow Cards  1
 1 Red Cards  0
 373 Total Passes  426
 75% Passing Accuracy  80%
 47% Possession  53%
 45 Duels Won  41
 52% Duels Won %  48%
 16 Tackles Won  11
 5 Saves  2
 31 Clearances  12


  1. When he isn’t on international duty Blake is our starting goalkeeper right?
    No questions about that?

    • The bigger question is, allowing for his injuries in the first half of the season, it took until week 25 for him to get the starting job. Blake is the only GK on the roster who makes the fingertip save on Nguyen.

      • To preface, I did not see the game, so I cannot comment on Blake’s entire body of work. But on the goal, his positioning in goal was so far off (by a good 1-2 yards too close to the near post, which is youth soccer stuff), and he wasn’t set at the point of impact of the shot. He has to be aware of where he’s at on the field, and the timing has to be better. Can make the spectacular save, but he made that one entirely too easy for the striker.

      • Fagundez had a long undefended run to the top of the box, looked as if he was passing the whole way and put one back across his body.
        Blake was definitely on his wrong foot and looking pass. Mistake for sure but it was the only wrong foot he put all night.

      • james lockerbie says:

        yeah that one was on the defender. you can only track and contain a strikers so long once you have hit the area of the 18 you must close space and make the challenge. Fagundez had the space and pulled the trigger far post. Not straight at the keeper!

      • I think part of that is Fagundez’s deception and smacking the ball back across his body…….a lot of keepers could get caught on that one…….nice play by Diego’s part. Even though he had an uninhibited forty yards to exploit………levels?…we don’t need no stinking levels!

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Remember the goalkeeper is not only trying to read the player with the ball, but also where his defenders are at and what coverage that they can provide. I’m guessing that Blake thought that Marquez was going to have his right side covered so he focused on covering more on his left. When Fagundez shot across his body and Marquez didn’t block it, Blake has much more ground to cover. Could he have done better? Perhaps, but those types of things get solved with more reps and developing chemistry with your back four.

        The goal was much more of a team breakdown as Fagundez was allowed to run unencumbered through our midfield. Also, Gaddis giving the ball away cheaply which he did a lot last night doesn’t help either.

      • Not talking about the buildup at all, Blake had nothing to do with that. But on the actual goal, his angle play was wrong. The only pass available there is near post leaving a shot at an acute angle, which Andre would have had plenty of time to react to with a simple shuffle step to his left. As for having Marquez cover his right, a GK never assumes that a defender will block a shot because the striker can just as easily cut the ball back. It’s OK, he’s a young GK, but he should have done much better on that goal.

      • Agreed. Rookie mistake. Everything else looked solid, so I’m not worried. Unless I see that mistake again.

      • DarthLos117 says:

        Unfortunately elementary GK error cost us game.

      • The above thread is why this site is the best. Not just ‘Blake/Marquez suck’ but reasoned, detailed analysis for each side. Most of which was written at an hour when normal people are asleep. Kudos.

      • the extra layer to all of this is that the entire sequence started when gaddis kicked the ball straight out of bounds after a call pass from nogs. had a sight line up the field and shanked the ball…

      • +1

  2. That’s so Union.

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    The better team won. Period. The Maidana red card was just the definition of stupid… but it is what it is. Only one game matters now: the Open Cup Final. Glad Edu was rested.
    This team has a chance to change its path this offseason with all the money that’s coming off the books. Win the Cup… enjoy it… and then fix the team so we can challenge for a playoff spot next season. That HAS TO BE the goal from here on out. It must be.

    • Phil in Wilmington says:

      Good logic, but it assumes the FO isn’t going to be the same old cluster that its been since for ever. But, at least those folks can’t hide behind the “we have no money” line when fans call out stupidity and inaction next season.

      I really do hope things change, but I will believe it when I see it. Until then, I don’t dare talk anything up. Every Philly fan I come cross does it with every team every year, and in the end it’s what makes us look like duped chumps season in and season out to other sports fans. Just watch any Iggles fan that gets two wins under their belt and starts talking about the super bowl, like seriously talking about it. You think ownership doesn’t see that and and bank on it? They know they have a captive audience that’s gonna take “good enough”, provided that they can get a few exciting wins in. It’s BS.

      We as fans have a choice, I beg Union fans to not chose to be duped (pun intended) by rosters that can’t complete from day 1. I beg Union fans to demand more, not because they “deserve better” but because they “demand” better. NY and DC were here first, and if the Union can’t deliver, I’ll take my ticket income 2 hours elsewhere elsewhere until they get their sh*t together. That might sound like front running, but it’s the closest thing to egalitarianism that I as a consumer can dish out, especially since ownership will never go in for promotion/relegation and that kind of cut-throat survive by your own accomplishment competitiveness is somehow seen as “un-american” — probably the greatest irony in all of sports.

      Anyway, enjoy your flash in the pan final. Wish all you want in the offseason. I’ll chill over here in my cynicism corner and keep my enthusiasm to myself until I see some real change.

  4. Couple of questions Eli – did Chaco really spit on him and why so late with Nando to sub?

    • And why so early with the Le Toux sub? Thought he had more gas in the tank… Open Cup i suppose?

      • LeToux seemed off to me tonight. Sloppy in possession this time around with too many turnovers.

      • Le Toux really had the same kinda bad game he’s been having. He just wasn’t in for the late possible moment of brilliance, he was off for sure though.

      • Westminster Union says:

        Maidana was shaking his head when Le Toux was subbed for Wenger. This was clear indication that he feels Le Toux is a good player who should be on, and or Wenger is not a good player and they don’t have confidence in him. Overall, the team was flat (outside of the first 20 minutes of the match which was promising). This loss , like many this season, is on Curtin. A good manager is able to make adjustments and motivate players to ensure they’re playing hard and increasing chances of success to match over the course of 90 minutes. Curtin didn’t even stand up and shout at team after NE goal. It was the worst team defensive effort display, and he said nothing. He also didn’t make adjustment early when Carroll and Nog weren’t gelling and we’re getting owned by NE mid. Lahoud for Carroll at halftime, along with Nando for Maidana, changing to a 442 would have been best move. Maidana was gassed and sloppy all match. Frustrating to watch…

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Chaco spit at him. My opinion. It was enough, with red standing right there, to give a red.

  5. 2 shots on target in a must win match at home.

  6. I thought Shuttleworth needed to get a yellow for time wasting, especially once the ref decided he needed to pay him a visit.

  7. Maidana has a deft touch, but that was so low-class. Yes, Nyugen sold it a bit, but the push was a foul. I cannot believe he let his frustration get the better of him.

    This was a game where Carroll as a black-hole going forward really hurt. His touch was crazy bad and he made some really poor passes to kill plays.

    Finally, if the Union get a red and (3?) yellows, how does nobody get a yellow for beating the crap out of CJ Sapong all game?

    • Look, Carroll has played well this year, but how is Lahoud not starting over him? Michael is the future, Brian will be gone after the season. I’m a big supporter of Jim, but I don’t understand the Carroll love. We’re not making the playoffs anyway…Brian’s had a nice run, now get Michael ready to go for the Sporting KC game. He’s the better player now and in the future.

      • So Important! says:

        Need a captain on the field with Edu out of the lineup.

      • Wasn’t noguiera a captain in France?

      • Nogs was captain at Sochaux, has been with the Union over a year. I think he would do fine.

      • I do believe Le Toux has worn the arm band for this team once or twice in the past as well.
        If Brian Carroll is starting just because he’s the best option as captain, that’s a big problem. I hope he started because Curtin felt he’d mesh better with Nogs, and not because of the armband.

      • Laboud is not the future. Who we get in January will be the future.

      • Agreed. Certainly hope Lahoud isn’t the future as that is a very scary future. The reason he wasn’t playing if you ask me is lack of talent and match fitness. Carroll helps the team gel as the players look up to him and he by far has been the most consistent player for this team all year. Without him on the field period this team is likely still looking for its first win if you ask me. It wasn’t until he was put in the lineup that things started to change. Their still not a good team, but Carroll unfortunately at this point has to play on this team cause he is the only player that helps the backline become solidified. Especially with Vittoria in the lineup.

  8. The only things left that matter in 2015:

    September 30th

    Hiring a Director of Soccer Operations to build the roster for 2016.

  9. el pachyderm says:

    In an effort to keep it interesting as a regular poster about a team that regularly so resoundingly underwhelmes lets try this little thought experiment..let’s comprise an arbitrary sampling of starters and subs for both teams and see what your thoughts are.
    Le Toux
    Pause deep breath…reread those lists. Is it any wonder we are in 9th place and straddeling last.

    Then because what else is there to do at this point….
    …this team needed The Striker to cut inside in the 85th minute and get that shot on frame…with two onrushing attackers pressing for a likely rebound.
    A good scorer of goals, a good goal scorer does not boot the ball 13 rows into the River End. I am so so so tired of that outcome with the team in general but him in specific. I have seen enough. With all due respect, he can go. Find me somebody else.
    Many other things to nit pick some good some typical some not so good…but I am fatigued.

  10. We must pick up quality all over the field in the offseason. This game as probably the most glaring smack in the face when looking at the two rosters. We need a new gameplan, new thought, new tactics.
    Mom not sure Jim has that in him. This team was stake in the second half, never more so then leading up to and after the goal. Jim had to make some adjustments that never came until too late when we went into the standard 3 Defender formation.
    Bring us a merciful end with and cup win, hire a director of ops and spend the money wisely in the offseason

    • Your right, that was the first thing I thought too……you look at and compare the starting 11, then……the players they bring on as subs compared to what we bring on……..no comparison…….can’t compete with that. Very apparent last night.

      • That same issue showed up in the Open Cup final last year. Our starting 11 is OK, but the talent drops off quickly after that.

  11. el pachyderm says:

    Thought structure number 2 on a typical Union evening….How many more days until the Rais M’Bohli picture on first page is on page 2 – – when he can finally be….going going going………..GONE for good – – archived as a byte and bad memory only.

  12. Ok so tonight Iv reached my wits end.. Not with our inept and unimaginative team but with our main supporter group..Iv been a season ticket holder in section 139 of the river end for 4 years now..sry but I’ll chant when I feel it’s warranted..I don’t need a dude with a bowler cap and pins to tell me that section 139 and 140 have a bad wrap cause we don’t sing loud enough..relax we are not in Dortmund ok..so that being said Iv decided to start a rough draft of a declaration of fan-dependence..a few highlighted points of the project will be a name for our shuned corner, a logo, and an open door for anyone who feels that they’re fandom isn’t measured in the volume of how they sing..I love what the sobs stand for and have done for this team but maybe it’s time for an alternative supporter group that won’t compete over who is the most loyal and how they show it…o and wssm..I thought shooting (on frame) was fundamental part of the game but you would never know it watching this team

    • Another supporters group is needed who are not shills to the FO……..that’s why another supporters group is needed.

    • The entire point of the river end is to create an intimidating atmosphere, though. It’s like signing up for a marathon, strung the race, walking ten feet, then laying on the pavement. Then wondering why the organizers of the marathon are annoyed at you for laying down on the pavement instead of running the marathon.

    • Not sure if it was how the broadcast mixed the sound last night, but you could hear players and coaches yelling much more often than any noise from the crowd.

  13. That Fagundez kid can ball…………..he’ll be in Europe soon.

  14. pragmatist says:

    The Eagles looked very impressive last night. Bradford’s the real deal.
    I’ve decided to stop posting the same crap game after game. There are no original comments or articles anymore, because this team is pulling the same crap game after game.

    • you’re very right, the comments are almost always the same bc of how the games play out. At least Blake is in playing well?

    • I rather enjoy searching for the new angle. Stirs my creativity. Satisfies My Soul.
      The music themes are rolling this morning.

      • Very true. The level of creativity is very enjoyable. Hence, I always come back.

      • I’ll say I was glad to see Andrew Wenger back in uniform – not because of Andrew Wenger the player, but because of Andrew Wenger the person. Concussions suck, and have completely ruined more than a handful of promising careers of athletes. When his concussion took more than a week or so, I was worried about Andrew the person.
        That said, I hope he doesn’t see the field again the rest of the year…
        How’s that for a different angle? 😉

      • James Lockerbie says:

        I like the humanity of your post and your conclusion.

  15. The Little Fish says:

    Ok. That loss stung. My observations?
    Even WITH Nogs, Chaco, and Barnetta on the pitch together we were still impotent. Our offense is so toothless. I’m not convinced CJ Sapong is the answer. And I like Fernando but he’s not produced at the $DP level. He can’t even crack our anemic starting 11!
    Ray Gaddis accidentally kicks the ball out of bounds too much for a starting MLS RB. Seriously Dude clean that junk up!
    Vitoria can play. He’s gotten better each game. Call me crazy but I’d keep him and his huge salary, pair him with Marquez, and the middle of our backline would be just fine.
    I don’t think Jim Curtain or the FO structure is changing any time soon so our ascension is going to have to come from JC and Albright eyeballing the personnel the next seven games and enhancing the roster this offseason. We pretty much know the salary structure they’re playing with and do have some assets.
    Blake has to be the starter from now on. I’m sort of pissed that Jim Curtain held him back this long. Foolishness. Just play the kid for crying out loud!!!!
    I’m not giving up on the Union. The transactions they’ve been making lately have made sense to me. Let’s empty the drawer now. Play all the kids please. Yea, yea, let’s win the cup and all but I’m not content with being at the bottom of the table going forward.

    • WestmontUnion says:

      All great points. I’ve been saying this for a long time, and I’ll say it again because you noted it here – Gaddis is not a starter in MLS. He lacks first touch, passing ability, control of ball, and completely lacks defensive positioning/awareness. He’s beyond frustrating to watch, and while I’m sure he’s a godfaring good man, I hate that I now have to call Fab our best full back!!! A new starting caliber RB, LB, Winger are priority in winter and if the ownership really wants to invest and out a winning team on the pitch, then DP striker and DP CDM to compliment the core talent we have and take team to next level

    • Vitoria is not worth the money. He didn’t get burned this game but has no speed to play in this league or athletic ability. For a 6’5″ CB I’ll pass too many useless fouls to much poor positioning. Just a NO in all aspects to me. I think this whole backline needs to be reformed. Fine with Marquez, I even think there is a spot for Gaddis but need a solid RCB with good soccer IQ, positioning, and athleticism to point Gaddis to the right spots. And Fabinho is a realiable backup. Need a new LB and RCB on the backline. Trade Edu. Get a New CDM and a striker.

  16. Craig Strimel says:

    Why was the entire stadium clapping for Chaco when he left the field? It was a pathetic, sadly unsportsmanlike foul (even without spit, if that is true). He should have been booed for screwing his team in a moment of crankiness. And I’m a big Chaco fan, for the record.

    • Clapping for his passion throughout the game. I frankly didn’t realize he spit on him. I thought he just cursed at him which I also thought was really dumb but was thinking seasons over anyway so he doesn’t have to make the west coast trip now.

    • I’m the same as Not Me. (Um… that may be the oddest sentence I’ve ever written on this site.) I wasn’t aware of Chaco spitting on the NE player. If so, it’s unacceptable and I’d be OK with the league giving him another game, or even two, on top of the one he gets for the red.

    • None of us knew he’d spit. That’s hard to see from the stands. We just thought it was a quick harsh red. Now we know better. A truly stupid, classless, move. I’ve been a big Chaco supporter but I hope he gets additional fines. I think the Union should fine him in addition to MLS.

      • Craig Strimel says:

        I though I’d get slammed for that comment. I also did not know he spit, but the shove from behind that has no tactical purpose whatsoever was enough for me to hold back applause. I know that such a foul is common, but I wish it wasn’t. If I saw my kid do it to another player we would have a very serious situation to discuss.

    • We didn’t know about the loogie yet.

    • It happened pretty close to where I sit. The foul was borderline yellow-worthy, as it was clearly out of frustration. There definitely was spit. Debatable if he intended to hit Nguyen or not, but it was in the general vicinity of him, and clearly out of anger/frustration. Easy red card in my opinion.

  17. The Union have a core of 8-9 possibly 10 players who are MLS starting quality. That’s in general not by position. Having them available to start has been the issue along with bringing in quality, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. Depth is a big issue among way too many others. Too may players are mediocre or worse. Gaddis, Fabinho are examples since they are Union starters should be depth players. How many times do we have to watch Gaddis struggle with ball at his feet or with the ball in the air? He fumbled the ball out of bounds again and again, one leading to the lone goal. That along with a few other continuous clumsy plays puts an already sketching defense under pressure. He is not a starter. He’s not the only one. Le Toux as the go to guy is way too hit and miss in my opinion and is a train wreck with the ball at his feet. The quality of players overall with basic professional skill on the Union is a joke. That is why they concede so much of the ball to nearly every team in MLS. They are also extremely slow in some major positions. The fact that they have had to rely on, Gaddis,Fabinho, and other players who would have a tough time making the 18 on almost every MLS team is very telling and all one has to do is look at the past 3-4 years of bottom feeding stats and no playoffs. When so called professionals can’t string together passes consistently tells me that this is not a quality team or organization worthy of this fan base. LB and now RB are positions that this organization has continually left weak and exposed. Teams attack those mediocre to poor positions regularly This has to be addressed in the off season once and for all. Jim Curtin and staff need to find more starters with skill at LB, RB and wings. They need to find someone other than BC and La Houd in the middle. They both work hard but we are kidding ourselves if that is the best we can put out there. If Edu is your starting CB then DM needs a major upgrade. The Union need to look at this roster and start parting ways with players who bring nothing and are taking up roster spots. On another note, I feel that the clock is ticking for Curtin and staff they are as mediocre to poor at times as some of the players! This organization needs a GM not Albright and Curtin. Albright can be an assistant GM and Curtin better take some major time learning how to coach. He should start attending and taking notes at Sir Alex Furguson’s book seminar!

    • Looking forward to that……should be cool!

    • Your point appears to be proved by the lack of success that former Union starters – have finding time elsewhere in the league. This is especially true of our former ‘young core’. Harvey, Mapp, and maybe Williams seem to be the only alums that feature regularly with other clubs.

    • Off the top of my head, here are the current Union players I would keep as starters in their current position:
      Blake, Marquez, Barnetta, Noguiera, Maidana, Sapong.
      I considered Vitoria on that list, because I think he’s played well since coming back from injury. But his salary troubles me a little bit. Also, Edu is not on that list. In large part because I still haven’t made up my mind about him. I think he’s a great personality for the team. (Yes, that matters; this team needs players who are good in front of the camera, etc. to so they can try and sell to a wider market in this city.) I’m just not sure Edu is worth the price we’re paying him. For all my other lists below, I had to pull up the current roster on the team’s website, just to be sure I didn’t forget anybody.
      The following are players I would keep as rotation / fill-in starters / bench players. (“Fill-in” starter for me means, “good enough until I find somebody else”):
      Gaddis, Fabinho, Lahoud, Le Toux, Ayuk, Pfeffer, Fernandes, Aristeguieta.
      I like both McCarthy and Sylvestre. One of them needs to stick, but get loaned to USL to get minutes. The other will need to be moved. The one loaned to USL is our 3rd keeper; the team needs to sign a veteran who will help Blake, push him a little bit, start when Blake is called up to Jaimaca, but not be a serious threat to him getting minutes overall. I can’t think of anybody else on the current roster, to be honest.
      Current players I want to see in USL next year (besides the goalkeeper they decide to keep from the above list). I don’t care if they’re loaned there or if they’re “dropped” by the Union and signed by the USL team or whatever. They all need minutes to see if they can play or not:
      Wenger (learning to play LB), McLaughlin (I think the kid still has a chance, and just needs some more time to grow), Catic, Hoppenot, Bird.
      And… I think that’s it. Players I didn’t mention at all:
      MacMath, White, Fred, Creavalle, Casey, Carroll, Berry
      They all go.
      That first list is way too small. That’s the problem with this team, frankly, and goes right to LCB’s point. The second list offers some intriguing options (Ayuk, Fernandes, Fernando). Those players could move up to the first list with some work and growth. The “out to USL” list has some interesting options, too. Hoppenot was the borderline for me there. The only reason I’m keeping him is because he’s still young, and maybe has a chance to learn and grow a little bit.
      So… let’s say keep Vitoria and Edu. With no other signings, you have a goalie, your CB pair, 4/5 of your midfield (Edu, Nog, Madaina, Barnetta), and your forward (Sapong). That’s from the “keep” list. It’s a really good spine: a good, young goalie; a good young CB (Marquez) and a partner he seems to play well with; a solid center-mid triangle of Edu, Nog, Maidana; a wing in Barnetta; a good, young power forward. We need to fill in both fullback spots; we need one more wing; so that’s three openings we need to fill with players who are quality starters. Ayuk is, in my opinion, the best option on the current roster for filling one of those spots. Gaddis will be filling one of those spots, but I still think the Union traded the wrong RB to Houston.
      If they want to switch to a 4-4-2, I think Edu is the odd man out, to be honest. Nog at the bottom; Maidana at the top; Barnetta wide left; Sapong and Fernando up top. Again, Ayuk could be the right-side guy, but if there’s an option out there this winter we need to not be afraid of upgrading.
      In either of those formations, you can use Le Toux to give a lot of players rest. In the 4-5-1, he can play left or right wing. In the 4-4-2, he can slide in left or right, but can also slide up top as a forward (and I’d argue it’s the best position for him – forward in a 4-4-2 with a strong hold-up player next to him). That allows the team to get him into, say, 20 games as a starter (counting Open Cup), and another 10 or so as a sub. I know Le Toux infuriates a lot of people, but I really think he needs to stick around and slowly fade into a bench role then retirement. In my opinion, he brings a ton of value to the franchise off the field. Control his playing time a bit, move him around to spell other players, sit him when he’s cold, and he’s perfectly OK for this team going forward.
      Mike Lahoud is good enough to be a guy who can fill in at holding mid if necessary, or play fullback in an emergency. He can come in for Noguiera or Maidana when we have a lead to help kill off a game and get them both some rest. (Coming in for Maidana, of course, would require a slight formation shift – probably Barnetta in the middle up top.) He’s a good piece to have.
      So… two fullbacks (I’d say right is more important than left – how crazy is that?), a wing, a veteran backup goalie, a backup CB option. that is the absolute minimum this team needs this offseason, assuming they keep Vitoria and Edu. I’d keep both or I’d get rid of both. If they both go, you also need a starting CB and another option at d-mid. I could love with Lahoud starting off the year there and finding an upgrade in the summer.
      This team isn’t that far off, purely looking at talent on the roster. The key is going to be finding some rest for those players, especially the ones who seem a bit more fragile (Nog and Maidana), and finding some options off the bench that aren’t all like-for-like subs. I like Sapong, and I like Fernando. But bringing in Fernando for Sapong really doesn’t do much. Find me a speed guy, or find me a a forward who will check back and help play a possession, passing game to kill off the last 15 minuts for a win. Those are the options they need to find.
      Hire Brian Carroll as part of the coaching staff. Hire Fred as a full time coach if you want him in that role. Find a role for Casey – not sure if he’s a coaching type or not, but he’s worth having around for younger players to see, talk to, etc. Just not on my roster, please.
      You’re close, Union. Get your shit together now that you have money to spend.

      • I could buy into this plan and see the team moving to mid-table or better in a year or two. I’ll cross my fingers but I will not hold my breath.

      • Well reasoned John.

      • And way longer than I had in my head when I started typing… sheesh…

      • James Lockerbie says:

        Get this to Curtin’s desk send it priority mail

      • I agree with much of this. Where I diverge ever so slightly: I like Edu. I’m intrigued if he could be the answer at #6. Seems he needs to get rid of this notion of being a goal scorer. But if we could replace the Carroll/Lahoud tandem with Edu alone and keep goals against low, it would be great. Otherwise trade/sell him. Also, I’m OK with Sapong, but this team needs a real #9. (Nando can go back to France) We don’t have anyone who can score reliably. We need a Kai Kamara (who doesn’t?), someone who can actually do something with Chaco’s service.

      • Westminster Union says:

        I agree with all of what John says, and have been stateing the same since April. That said, Edu is a CB or not on the team. He has had a good run out in CM and pair with Nog (the better player) he is lazy, inpredicable with his runs (a huge no no for CDM) and isn’t that dynamic of a passer. Carroll is an over the hill CDM but because he’s conservative and works hard defensively , Nog and Maidana are able to shine. Getting rid of Edu if he’s not paired with Marquez (which I think he will be, and the FO will opt to not resign Vitoria) is the smart thing to do and throw money at a young, dynamic CDM who is a defense first player. I’d throw Edu money at Dax McCarthy all day long, he’d be fantastic in our current system and his stats this year are league leading (tackles, ground covered, touches etc). Gaddis has to be traded or sold. He won’t accept back up role and he’s just not good enough to start next year. He’s also not improving which is why we need to move on.

      • While I don’t disagree about Gaddis… who starts? For me, I’d rather see them find a true LB and replace Fabinho in the starting 11 and leave Gaddis there for a year. Gaddis is, I think, good enough to get by.
        And I say this as somebody who is very impressed at the turnaround Fabinho has made this year. Dude has clearly worked hard, and that should be commended.

      • WestmontUnion says:

        Unfortionately Gaddis was made to look good because of our poor CB pairing and goalkeeper woes in the past, which lead to him making lots of last ditch tackles or interceptions early in the season. Fast forward to Saturday and it’s clear he struggles with basic footballing technique, like passing, dribbling, controlling the ball and defense positioning. NE goal for example was due to him not being in the right defensive position, so NE just attacked him from wing, and cut inside and Gaddis was left running back and out of the play, instead of advancing from a defensive position to cut off the run. Gaddis poor touch also led to the throw that led to the goal, so both illustrations of his flaws. You can basically go back and watch the highlights of the past 5-8 matches and teams are purposely focused on attacking him because they see he’s flawed. He also requires Nog to drop back a lot and cover for him, and also Le Toux is constantly having to recover into deep defensive positions which takes away from what he does best – darting runs into the box. Fab isn’t great, and I’d never thought I’d be saying this, but I’d much rather have him on the team next year as LW/LB cover than Gaddis as cover or a starter at RB. It’s football, not personal 🙂

      • Sorry, man, but TL;DR.

      • You left off Danny Cruz. Slacker. 😉

        Agree with much of this. The spine of the team as you present it is solid. The needs, speed and depth, are obvious.

        To make the offseason work, two additional things need to happen:

        1. Union must hire the long promised Director of Soccer Ops ASAP. Salary cap space and a top 5 draft pick, this is the best chance the FO will have to sell the job to someone who knows what they are doing. Hiring a GM now gives him a headstart on player evaluation.

        2. Make as many of the signings as early as possible in the offseason. Two years in a row the Union have been killed by slow starts, a good part of which I believe is because the club has not gotten players signed early enough that they spend the preseason together. The other part of this is the club’s strategy of targeting players out of favor at their clubs for loans – Vitoria, Nando. A downside to this is the players have not been playing, so a lack of fitness, so injuries occur.

        Hire the GM, let him spend the rest of 2015 picking the roster apart. Identify your 2016 targets early, get them in here, and give the team as long as possible to gel. Does the Union become the Galaxy overnight? Of course not. Can they become at top 3 club in a pathetically weak Eastern Conference? Absolutely

      • I had Cruz in my bench / rotation player list at one point. I wonder what happened there… Hmmm…
        I absolutely agree that signings need to happen earlier in the off-season this year. Two years in a row now, our winter signings happened near the end of training camp. Both times it lead to slow starts. Get most of the new targets identified early and signed. They have the cap space to do so now.
        Also, yes: this team actually an be attractive to a GM. They have a good spine, a fair bit of young and growing talent, and mechanisms to add players either via draft or free money on the cap. That is the most important decision this team has going forward. They need to get it right; everything else flows from that decision.

      • Left out Danny Cruz returning from loan. I would put him in the reserves list because I like his energy to come off the bench at tired defenses.

  18. I can’t believe I stayed up to 4am local time to watch that. I can’t believe I’m going to do it again next week.

  19. Does anyone else see that Barnetta is slow and not that skilled? And what the hell with European players like Maidana, Aristiguieta, and Barnetta being unprepared for MLS refs? Doesn’t Curtin sit them down and explain that they won’t get light fouls called, shouldn’t argue calls bc all the refs have chips on their shoulders, and can’t get frustrated and spit on people? Isn’t this a failing of the coaching staff?

    • el pachyderm says:

      I think Barnetta is a bit deceptive with his speed actually and reads the game well and will adjust to the break neck pace the game is played in this league as opposed to those second rate european leagues.

      • el pachyderm says:

        btw Ben IMO…MLS Soccer is much more akin to its financial sugerdaddy the NFL than anything resembling european or south american football.
        maybe someday when its own identity is forged and MLS teams don’t have to erase the Seahawk logo every week or NE doesn’t play in a razor blade sponsored stadium it will not be under the shadow of its overlord… as for explaining all this to foreign players by the coaches… I’m stumped.
        Maybe if we slowed the game down a bit particularly in Unionland the physicality would lessen. Either way…I’ve don’t see David Villa getting manhandled every play and maybe that’s because he’s just better and not playing like my 5 year old who pinballs through life at this point.
        then again… did anybody see Martin’s opening goal for Seattle today… dude is a beast and uses his body beautifully.
        Portland was all knees and aching hips he was the surgeon with metal rods and pins and screws.

    • Well, the list of players new to MLS joining in the summer window and performing so-so at best is long. Expecting Barnetta to come in and light it up right away is probably unfair. Hopefully, he can use this time to get used to his teammates and the differences in the league while settling in off the field. That’s why, as people were saying above, this team should be taking care of player acquisition business early and often in the winter window. With someone who knows what they are doing…as promised…last November.

    • Barnetta came into a team halfway through their season without playing or training with the team for months.
      I think he gets a pass on fitness until next year once he has a legit preseason.

  20. The Oenophile says:

    The opening 45 minutes of this game was some of the best soccer I have witnessed in my six seasons at PPL Park – for both teams – with crisp and accurate passing, well thought out plays and creative set pieces, and solid defensive performances. At one point the Union strung together so many passes that I thought I was watching Arsenal playing. As they say though, soccer is a game of two halves, and a different team showed up for the second 45 minutes. Sigh. Another disappointing night in Chester. And it might be one of the last, as two of the three remaining home games are on Sunday nights during the school year.

  21. Westminster Union says:

    Just another thought while I’m musing over why our situation is so frustrating, and how we can turn this around, I would definitely like the team to entertain these trade/player signing scenarios –

    1. Edu for Mix. NYCFC are in desperate need of defensive cover. Edu provides both at CB and CDM. Mix is a USMNT player, is young, players a number of positions across midfield and would provide us with a true asset if he can turn his form around. NYCFC have Poku and a glut of attacking mids, so I could definitely see them letting him go. He can play in front of Nog in CM and push Maidana to LW in a 4-5-1 formation. This would provide us with much more attacking firepower with his link up play and long shot threat.

    2. Sign Dax or Brad Evans or Johnson (Portland) or Okugo. All on non DP contracts and underpaid. Surely we can entice one to sign for more $ (use allocation $ to trade) and you have your new CDM to pair with Nog.

    3. Sign a winger from South America. A fast, young, winger. I’d take a season loan if that’s the only way to get it done!

    4. Make Alejandro Bedoya our record DP signing. He becomes your star winger, complimented by Barnetta on the other wing and Maidana at CAM and Nog in CM.

    5. Use Mls waiver draft, USL and NASL to get a new LB and RB. We need two players…surely they’re out there!?

    If only one of these scenarios came true, I’d be a happy man. If two came true I’d Doop in my pants!

    • Sorry but there is no way most of these scenarios pan out. NYFC are not letting Mix go to tied to brining him in and the Union won’t pay that size contract. Dax is to entrenched with Red bulls plus he may get skewered by fans if he comes here being rivals and all. Evans is to valuable to seattle with the versatility. Johnson to young for portland to trade. Okugo won’t want to come back. Bedoya to much money for this team to pay. A south american winger is probably an idea but the team does this and their track record suggests they don’t know how to fit the right pieces together. Also likely impacts Ayuk development. We need quality LB and RB not MLS waiver quality.

      • WestmontUnion says:

        All fair points, my only retort to the Mix scenario is that he is definitely not too much money. He’s on similar money to Edu. It would be a straight swap. He is surplus to requirements at NYCFC at the moment, and the team can’t/won’t offload Lampard or Pirlo, so this is a great scenario for them. For us it provides us with a player to give a more central role in the attack and hopefully see his form/value rise.

        Re MLS Waiver – look at past pick ups. I’d love to have any one of these players on our team…

        2014 – Marvin Wynne (Def); Robbie Finley (Winger/ST); Sanna Nyassi (Winger/ST). Also, Jeremy Hall withdrew and is definitely a player that would have been a key contributor should we have signed him instead of NE.

        2013 – Bobby Boswell (Def); Sean Franklin (Def); Chad Barrett (ST);

        …I think you see my point. All of those players would be big upgrades to what we have (Barrett instead of Casey; Franklin instead of Gaddis; Boswell instead of White; Finley instead of Wenger). If managed properly, we could find talent in the draft, a draft we chose to only exercise one pick in the last two years and that was to select CORBEN BONE!!!!

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