Player ratings

Player ratings & analysis: NYRB 4-1 Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Since the preseason, Jim Curtin has said that his team was not good enough to have bad days. Yet, the one thing that could elevate a mediocre team above more expensive, talent-laden squads — consistent organization — has only appeared for fleeting moments. Perhaps this is purely a coaching issue, a function of a young coach struggling to communicate his ideas. But looking at the season as a whole, it appears more likely that there is another element strongly exerting its influence.

Over and over again, the Union have been undone not by better players or better tactics, but by the one thing Curtin promised they would not have: A weak mentality.

Mike Grella scores the fastest goal in MLS history of a Maidana assist (click to play).

Mike Grella scores the fastest goal in MLS history of a Maidana assist (click to play).

Playing on repeat

In every month of the season, there is a game the Union could and possibly should have won, if not for turning off either at the beginning or end of it.

There was the 3-3 draw against Real Salt Lake in March, when the Union gave up an 85th minute free kick to tie the match.

The unforgettable first half against Columbus in April when a Kei Kamara sucker punch knocked the air out of Philly for 25 minutes (and two more goals).

The 3-0 individual mistake-ridden blowout loss to Vancouver came in May. The 5-1 beatdown in LA followed in June.

July saw Philly give up a two goal lead in a loss to archrival DC. In August, Shaun Wright-Phillips scored a minute after the Union’s tying goal to lead the Red Bulls to victory (a minute!).

September. US Open Cup.

And now October, a month in which the Union, with nothing to lose, have lost two matches by a combined 7-2 scoreline. The second match, Sunday’s 4-1 loss to New York, may, against all odds, have been the club’s worst.

Can anybody say (and believe) the team that left their heart in Philadelphia on Sunday was any better than the one that played out an extremely dire goalless draw with Colorado to start the season?

Maidana ignores Kemar Lawrence on the backpost, leaving the fullback an easy finish after McCarty beats a static Fabinho to cross.

Maidana ignores Kemar Lawrence on the backpost, leaving the fullback an easy finish after McCarty beats a static Fabinho to cross (click to play).

Not made of tough stuff

Philadelphia Union have been frustrating not because they have a knack for giving up soft goals after strong periods of pressure. No, they are frustrating because those soft goals inevitably see them lose focus, chase independently, and generally abandon the organization — that one on-field tool a team with a small payroll, no superstars, and a dry youth pipeline has to throw at the Goliaths of MLS — of which they are capable, but disastrously undedicated.

The truth is, they were always going to be fighting an uphill battle. A poorly built roster trained by a thin staff and an inexperienced coach. If it all came together, it would be a wonderful story. But it never did.

The Union have resiliently bounced back from one crushing failure after another, but only after the final whistle. They will bounce back from Sunday’s nightmare, too. But that won’t change the fact that after giving up the fastest goal in MLS history on their own kickoff, they played 44 minutes and 53 seconds of soccer like a group of angsty teenagers on a high school field trip. Distracted. Listless. Anxious.

Not Philly tough.

It’s all in the head

The Union’s inability to mentally re-focus after going behind is a bit surprising given how many times they have recovered from near-existential crises of confidence to look cohesive, if not confident. There has been no finger pointing, none of the acid distrust that characterized the late Nowak era.

Instead, the most consistent and prevalent issue has been a self-belief as fragile as Carlos Ruiz inside the box. Jim Curtin weaves sorceries that convince the players they can compete if they defend as a unit and counterattack with their speed, and the team genuinely play like they believe it right up until some individual mistake or defensive breach blows the veil from their eyes.

A team like Toronto can overcome such frailty through high-priced, individual brilliance. The Union cannot.

Or perhaps more accurately, as the 2015 MLS table shows, they have not.

Andrew Wenger's disastrous first 25 minutes helped New York pin the Union back as they imposed their will on the visitors.

Andrew Wenger’s disastrous first 25 minutes helped New York pin the Union back as they imposed their will on the visitors.

Wenger as metaphor continues

There is one player who has quite clearly been the avatar of Philadelphia’s inability to get out of their own heads. And, unfortunately, even in a game when multiple players made glaring, early mistakes (Lahoud), gave off an air of ennui (Maidana), or both (Vitoria), Andrew Wenger still managed to encapsulate the Union’s season-long problems in a morbidly poetic way.

As Kevin Kinkead and I discussed on Twitter, a competent attacking fullback is so valuable in the modern game that a lack of defensive awareness is quickly forgiven. The Wenger-as-fullback experiment, then, is a worthwhile one because a positive outcome would give Philly a tool on the right flank they have not had since Sheanon Williams’ heyday.

But instead of jumpstarting the Union’s counterattack with improved passing out of the back and adding an extra dimension of width to overload the right side, Wenger magnified the team’s defensive issues by exuding the low levels of confidence that have typified his 2015 campaign. To be fair, the Union’s right back was not even the worst player on his side of the defense. But anyone expecting Steven Vitoria to play with energy and intelligence is either looking at a small sample size, or simply not looking at all.

Vitoria does not refract the Union as a whole with the same clarity as Wenger. The latter has spent a frustrating season trying to spackle over poor touches with workrate, which is like trying to fix an ACL tear by running it out: You only make it worse.

Wenger follows the ball instead of the man as Grella plays a quick 1-2 to set up what should have been another NYRB goal (click to play).

Wenger follows the ball instead of the man as Grella plays a quick 1-2 to set up what should have been another NYRB goal (click to play).

In the first 25 minutes of the match, Wenger was 3/10 passing, with a hardly-believable three giveaways in the Union half (and one pass directly out of play). Although Philly has suffered through some rough days passing out of the back this season, resorting to the long ball has at least forced the opposition to regroup before they return to the attack. To emphasize how bad own-half giveaways are, think about it this way: They are the primary goal of the most progressive tacticians in the modern game. Organized, high pressure is about causing turnovers close to the goal. In that brutal opening period of Sunday’s match, Wenger had as many own-half turnovers as the rest of the team combined.

I have no bone to pick with Wenger. The fundamental facts on the ground are that he is a player with enormous upside who has peaked for just under a third of a season in his career. He has been the victim of some bad luck in 2015, but he has also made very little of his own luck. The way Mike Grella victimized Wenger on Sunday — isolating him so often that he did not even need to beat him on the dribble to be effective — is the type of play fans expected from the Union man all season. Instead, we have watched a player of immense talent mentally tear himself apart, culminating in a USOC final penalty that every Union fan sincerely wishes they hadn’t seen coming.

Again, Andrew Wenger is not a bad soccer player, just as many on the Union’s underachieving squad are not bad players. But he is mentally fragile. And, unfortunately, that squad-wide fragility has managed to overcome Nick Sakiewicz’s incompetence, and subsequent ouster, to become the primary theme of the 2015 season.

Player ratings

Andre Blake – 4

Good box control from the young goalie on a rough night. The big question for Blake going forward is whether he can become a better organizer. He has rarely worked with a consistent back four this year, so that will have to be a question for 2016. Got beat at the near post on Grella’s second goal, which is a big no-no.

Andrew Wenger – 2

On an otherwise poor afternoon, Wenger was not directly responsible for any of Red Bulls goals. He would have been if Mike Grella had not accidentally blocked a Bradley Wright-Phillips shot off the line after skinning the Union fullback. I wish I could say it got better for Wenger after the first 25 minutes, but he had five own-half giveaways in the second half while the rest of the team accumulated six total.

Steven Vitoria – 1

Sayonara.

Richie Marquez – 4

Only one misplaced pass in a busy first half for Marquez. He was not New York’s target, but he still struggled to work with Vitoria as BWP constantly pulled one defender forward while the other stayed deep, leaving noxious gaps for Kljestan and Grella to exploit.

Fabinho – 4

Flat out beat to the spot by McCarty for the cross on the fourth goal. Again, not New York’s target but hardly covered himself with glory as he was never a part of the offense and struggled passing.

Michael Lahoud – 2

Like Fabinho, Lahoud has been one of the few players to show a marked improvement to his game in 2015. He can be maddeningly inconsistent and prone to over-pursuit, but while those used to be features of his game, they are now mere tics. That said, he endured a horrific first half, from a misunderstanding with Maidana on the kickoff to being stripped 25 yards from net by McCarty on the third goal.

Nogueira did nada in New York's final third.

Nogueira did nada in New York’s final third.

Vincent Nogueira – 3

Didn’t do much. No touches anywhere close to the Red Bulls final third. None. Zip. How is that possible?

Tranquillo Barnetta – 4

It is becoming clearer why the Union wanted Barnetta so badly. He is a good player with a great attitude. That fire, and the way he embraces a leadership role on the pitch in a way that none of the Union’s recent captains have done, explains his value to the current regime in Philly.

Sebastien Le Toux – 5

Like Wenger, Le Toux often makes the mistake of relying on effort over organization when the going gets tough. That said, Le Toux is supremely confident in himself, and that is why he can turn lemons like Sunday into a hope-giving goal.

Cristian Maidana – 2

Deservedly substituted at halftime. New York funneled Maidana into the center of the pitch, and he was swallowed whole by the excellent McCarty and Felipe. That said, he did not appear to be trying very hard to get free.

CJ Sapong – 5

The one offseason move that has unequivocally worked out well for the Union, Sapong still has a long way to go to become a surefire center striker in MLS. But he is on his way, and that is very, very good news for the Union going forward.

Substitutes

Ethan White – 6

Still iffy positionally, but White came in and did what he does best: Play with energy and heart. Curtin should never have relied on White as a first choice center back, but there is obviously value in having a good team guy who can perform well for short stretches on the bench.

Fernando Aristeguieta – 6

Oh, if only he had a first touch! And a liiiittle bit more speed. The big Venezuelan ripped a volley at Robles and allowed the Union to play long without losing the ball every time. It was a fine cameo, but not one that will make him a certainty to return next season.

Eric Ayuk – 5

In 13 minutes, Ayuk touched the ball four times. One of those touches was a sensationally good header back across goal that Robles had to scrape away.

Geiger counter – 5

Ismail Elfath must have wondered if the game would get chippy after New York so thoroughly pummeled the Union for the first 25 minutes of the match. It didn’t.

68 Comments

  1. Director of Helicopter Operations says:

    Wenger is Dom Brown – tons of potential, brief flash of brilliance that enticed everyone to believe, and the inability to adjust their game when the opposition figured it out.

    Yesterday the Phillies finally came to their senses that it was never going to happen for Brown and released him. Union need to do the same with Wenger.

    • I’d agree with this, but for the fact that the Union need to field two teams next year. The USL team seems the perfect place to stash Wenger. Let any and all experiments occur down there, until he either comes good, or a more valuable replacement can be found.

      • Director of Helicopter Operations says:

        Only if you can negotiate his salary way down. On the cap or not, large amount of money to pay a player trying to learn a position in AAA ball. And that is a luxury a cash starved team like Union do not have.

      • +1 his $200,000 is a problem for this team and needs to be gotten rid of regardless of what I hear about his skill it does not translate on the field.

      • Spending money on Wenger to learn to be a fullback is money poorly spent. Better to take whatever his cap hit is and add it to the expanding pool (Valdes, He-who-shall-not-be-named, and Vittoria) and get some true depth that doesn’t require learning a new position.

      • The Union aren’t cash starved going into next season. And money spent doesn’t equate to position in the league table (see the race for supporter’s shield, as the top three have the three lowest payrolls in MLS).
        .
        As for the experimentation part, Wenger used to be a CB, and the team still needs one of those to go along with Marquez. Putting Wenger back at his natural position doesn’t seem much of a stretch nor a waste of money to me.

      • Director of Helicopter Operations says:

        Union have cap room going into 2016, agreed, a lot of it. Union also still have Sugarman as their owner, which means they are cash strapped, and will be as long as he is, relative to other MLS teams.

        Also agree – you do not need to spend the most money to be successful, you need to spend what you have smartly. Union have failed to do this – prime examples the names you mention. I can think of many different uses for Wenger’s money that would immediately improve the 2016 roster than rolling the dice one more time on his learning another position.

      • I truly wonder how cheap Sugarman is though. His cheapness is viewed through the Sak kaleidoscope. Sak, it seems (evidenced by what has emerged since his firing) was bucking for a piece of the Union pie. Did Sak try and run the Union on a shoestring budget, in order to show a bigger profit margin thus validating his so called ability to run a professional soccer organization? The Union’s pursuit of Bedoya (the willingness to pay him $1 mil) speaks against Sugar’s supposed frugality.
        .
        As an owner, it seems to me that Sugar saw his own lack of experience to run a professional soccer club, as a possible detriment to creating a top club. He picked Sak presumably for his previous experience, as Sugar himself, had none. I compliment him on this, though arguably it was a poor choice in Sak. I’d say a more hands-off owner is preferable to a hands-on owner, i.e. Daniel Snyder or Jerry Jones.
        .
        Up until Sak’s firing and subsequent revealing of his actual stake in the organization, I probably would have agreed with Sugar’s frugality. Now, I can’t be so sure. There are so many things we don’t know as to how and why this club has been run the way it has.

      • You are 100% right based on the conversation I had with Sugarman – were you in the room?

      • Given enough pieces, a puzzle becomes less puzzling. The picture becomes clear. My ADD driven mind can take snip-its of information, and draw conclusions. Sometimes the conclusions are actually right. Often they are misled by lack of information.

      • The Chopper says:

        Sak would have received bonus shares in the club based on the value of the club increasing to a certain level. His incentive was not based on profitability. Running a losing club on the cheap does not raise value.
        Playoff revenue, more win, better marketable players that help you sell more sponsorships, raise tv rights and raise ticket prices raises value.
        Sak was always asking Sugarman for more money, it was the number one contention between them. Sak needed to spend to hit his incentive. We agree he would not have spent the money wisely, but he was not the reason this club is operating on the cheap.

      • Chopper, I mean no offense, and I certainly am not trying to start a fight over this, but where has the information that Sak was always asking for cash and not receiving it, come from? Where’s the proof? I’m not asking to poke and prod you, I just want to know. If it came from Sak somewhere, honestly, I’m not inclined to believe a word he said. Sak could tell me the sky was blue. Even if I was outside, looking at a blue sky, I’d still have trouble believing him.

      • UnitedPenn13 says:

        Correct me if I’m wrong but Wenger has not played CB since he was in college which was 5 or 6 years ago. And playing CB in college is not the same as playing CB in MLS.

      • Defense is easier than offense. Your role is defined and your job more structured. But it takes more heart, more attention to detail, to play defense. An offensive player can play 89 mins without getting involved. It only takes one min to make a difference and become the hero. But you also must be more creative as an offensive player. Defense can be taught. Creativity in offense is more about talent and ingenuity that are given talents through DNA.

  2. I was ready to skip the article and just post the comment “These ratings are too high”, but I’m glad that I didn’t.

    This team has a lot of nice guys in it and we definitely need to add some a-holes to it. Not absolute jerks, but someone who has an edge and is not uncomfortable calling a teammate out as well as living with the awkwardness of having another player pissed at you. Barnetta has that edge, LeToux displays some of that type of attitude, but we need more of those types of characters.

    Sometimes you just need to be a prick in order to get things done. Someone who is willing to say to “if you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.”

    • We had one of those guys at the beginning of the year. He’s in Houston now. We kept the nice guy instead.

      • Exactly, I was thinking the same thing when I finished this post. Williams wasn’t afraid to get into a scrap with someone and definitely had an edge to him.

      • +1 Would love to have him back. Streaky? Yes. But he competes.

      • While Williams was willing to do that go back to the beginning of the season and see who was bitching out M’bohli, that was Gaddis. So he will get in peoples face when he thinks its appropriate.

      • Yeah, but that was M’Bolhi and everyone in the locker room hated him so no real chance of any blowback for Gaddis when he did that as everyone else hated him too.

        It’s much more difficult to do that to someone who is well liked by his peers (including by the person who is calling him out).

      • There’s a BIG difference between guys who get in the face EFFECTIVELY (Pete Rose) and guys who do it DESTRUCTIVELY (M’Bholi, Terrell Owens, I can go on and on…)

      • When that happened, I wasn’t thinking, “Glad Gaddis got in his face — maybe that will straighten MBolhi out.” Instead, it was more like, “Man, how awful a person must MBolhi be to even make Gaddis angry.”

    • +1
      Example: Pete Rose, Phillies, 79/80
      Got in everyone’s face, especially Schmidt’s.

    • Zizouisgod….An asshole with an edge…..like …… Amobi Okugo?
      .
      Oh. I did it again.
      .
      We went with the Clark Kent version in Maurice Edu.

      • He’s definitely a high character guy who wasn’t afraid to show passion.

        Remember a few years ago when we played Red Bull in the last match of the season at PPL and Okugo was still playing hard in the waning moments of a 3-0 scoreline because he “didn’t want the season to end”.

        I want those kind of guys on my team.

    • UnitedPenn13 says:

      Maybe we can get Roy Keane to come out of retirement. 🙂

  3. It was…OUR OWN kickoff.

  4. Adam Cann… with respect, your entire article this week is a case in point for why the manager should no longer be managing… even if his players are of suspect MLS 2.0 quality… or someone who once signed a keeper from a little tournament two summers ago… hamstrung the budget.
    .

    • + 1. A woefully unprepared team that wilted under the glare points directly to the manager who promised the exact opposite. Disconnect. Fail. Unacceptable. I didn’t get Jay’s vote of confidence at the Sakking & it looks unwise now. And something like it happened at the end of last year, so . . . .

  5. “Union go with the long ball.”
    .
    I am Jack’s Aching JP Dellacamera.
    .
    The panic the vomit.
    The panic the vomit.
    God loves his children.
    God loves his children.
    Yeah.

    • You love Radiohead, haha.

      • In every way. Rhythmic geniuses.

      • hmm…to each his own for sure…though if what you recognize Radiohead is largely from what you have heard or hear on the radio… the anthology is far far more dynamic… and rhythmically diverse. Subtle.
        .
        Johnny Greenwood, Nigel Goodrich and Phil Selway are top class… and that isn’t even considering Thom Yorke’s trance-electronica bend.
        .
        anyway… I’ve turned more than one person on to Radiohead with similar, ‘meh’ preconceptions.
        .
        This is fun.

      • I will grant you my experience is limited to the radio. And in no way was my indifference directed at your love of the band. Have at it! If it brings you joy, I’m all for it. They just do nothing for me. I will also say 90% of the time I’m stuck in the 60’s and 70’s. Rarely wanting to admit that anything of worth was created after 1979. Though that still doesn’t account for my hidden love of 80’s music, of which my youth was filled. If I was only able to choose one band to listen to the rest of my life, I’d be grateful to have THE DEAD.

    • Networking yuppies

  6. WestmontUnion says:

    I agree with growing sentiment here (a belief that I’ve had since the 3rd game of the season); Curtin has to go. Let new SD hire his guy, and let Sugaman show he’s committed to investing in team, and sign some new players and release the less talented (Gaddis, Vitoria, Wenger, Casey, Fred, Fabinho, Hoppenot). We need an urgency this winter to sign good players, and fill the team with enough quality depth to compete. It’s not rocket science, DC , NYRB, Dallas are getting it right and not paying a high price for lots of wins this season

    • Psst, you forgot Cruz.

      • So many people to release, but lets take a different view. Lets talk who is out of contract and who does this team go after. We all know most of the team should be released. Are myers or sinovic out of contract either would be upgrades at outside back? Is there a way to get tchani? Poku could be a good addition I think and NYCFC don’t need him (he’s cheap young big)? How bout Andrew Farrell can we get him away from NE could put him back at outside back or CB?

      • As good an idea as this is, I think you are getting ahead of yourself. For starters, why would anyone want to come here? Yes, you can always find mercenaries that will go to the highest bidder. But are they the players you want? I think in order to attract those players you mention, a few things need to happen first. The SD needs to be hired yesterday. A coach with a recognized name needs to be found. Then the priority needs to be Bedoya. Basically to show the club’s desire and commitment to improve, vs. what he brings to the team. Only then do I believe the wishlist can become a reality.

      • I can agree on the SD and coach. I disagree on Bedoya as I think he will be a n overpaid unneeded asset that is brought to the team. Where do you play him? The wing? centrally? more defensively? Are you keeping Chaco and Nogs then or getting rid of them? What formation are you throwing this team in if you get Bedoya? It may bring more questions then he is worth to me. And why blow all of your cap money that you just got back to sign one player when you need prob 5 or 6 decent starters to come in. As far as people wanting to come. Well I’ll quote you there are mercenaries out there and this team has shown they overpay people why not overpay the mercenaries who fit the SD vision.

      • Towards Bedoya, again, it’s more about the show, than the actual player. I’d be all for substituting a more viable name. As for a position? Winger. And signing Bedoya wouldn’t blow all their cap money, because they were willing to do this before this season ended. At which time even more money will be coming off the books. I’d keep Nogs. I think I’m going to fall on the side of letting Chaco go. Yes, league co-leader in assists. I get it. But too tactically limited. Barnetta plays in the middle. I came to this conclusion when he played there as Chaco was out. Barnetta offers more. More heart. More fitness. A willingness to get in the box and make that late run. And to actually SHOOT the ball.

      • I am of the opinion that we do not NEED to get rid of any players (other than the loaned players as they aren’t technically on our book). Many players on this team would offer good depth to any MLS team or can go down to USL. That said the only players I feel we NEED to keep are Nogs, Barnetta, Blake, Sapong, and Le Toux. Everyone else can stay or go.

      • My hunch is that Chaco won’t be back, and the Union plan to move Barnetta to the center. If so, you have a wing position that needs to be filled…

      • While I like Barnetta and completely agree that he offers more and always has since his days at Schalke, however I personally like him on the left. Why you ask? Especilly, when he can play centrally well its simple we have no solid LB and never have since Harvey the only one who can protect that side is Barnetta. As soon as the Union got Barnetta and put him on the left attacks from other teams came flying down the right side. This is about the same time everyone started harping on the fact that Gaddis was no good (to me the jury is still out I think he can improve greatly). People know Barnetta puts the effort in on both sides of the ball. I also think quality outside mids/wingers are hard to come by in MLS thus finding a decent number 10 that will fit with this midfield is possible going after current players in MLS.

      • All good points Dr. U. Honestly I wouldn’t be truly against leaving Barnetta on the wing. I just desire speed on the wings (no this doesn’t mean Danny Cruz). As I said before, this is probably wishful thinking. But that doesn’t make me want it any less. Or think that it behooves the Union more if they went for speed on the wing.

      • I agree I like speed on the wings as well, but the U have never shown me that they look for speed or use the speed players properly thus I tend to lean towards a more balance winger that can control the ball. This is not to say that I wouldn’t love two players on either wing blazing past opposing players causing all sorts of problems.

      • Although bringing in Bedoya to play the other wing from Barnetta would do the same thing as I feel they are simialr players in terms of style. Which really would give us a strong D pair of wingers if that is something that you want…

      • A. that’s not a bad idea either. But I’d still want speedier players. Definitely an option to think about.

      • I agree on the speed. I want my wingers to be burners. Puts so much more pressure on the d. I do feel like wingers of bedoya and barnetta could work but we would need a very dynamic CAM/2nd striker hybrid. Don’t think that is really in the plans though because those type of players are not cheap.

  7. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Brendan Burke did a nice job with Reading, I hope he gets consideration for the Lehigh Valley job.
    .
    The youth pipeline produced one very good player, for certain, too good for MLS and that is Zach Steffen.
    .
    Strikers are the hardest players to find; Were I Albright I would at least explore Aristeguieta for 2016 at a reduced price. If the price is not right, then perhaps move on, but Casey gave the impression of being at the end of the road, so be cautious of jettisoning someone who can provide effective substitute play cavalierly. And he is comparatively young. Growth is still possible.
    .
    I would offer the tentative conclusion that the benches of the lesser teams in the big European leagues do not necessarily offer MLS starting caliber talent.
    .
    The one European signing who seems to have demonstrated fairly consistently that he has improved the play of the team is Nogueira, a starter on a lesser team in a big European league that was being relegated. Barnetta gives signs of being similar, save for the relegation part. That niche is where we might more profitably be looking.

    • Heard that Burke was getting the head coaching job at Northeastern (per Kyle McCarthy’s tweet).

    • All good points. Especially the one concerning Nogueira. To the point of keeping Nando around, I can agree with it if he’s at that lower price. Though even with that, I think I’d rather give Catic a shot over Nando. Then maybe the argument becomes over playing time and Catic’s development. Which I would then argue, wouldn’t Nando be in the same position? Essentially, he would be.

      • How bout this? Keep Nando, but at Wenger’s salary get rid of Wenger. Leave Catic on the USL team call him up if needed.

      • Can’t say I’m entirely adverse to this idea. It’s definitely an option to think about. I guess I’m not as ready as most to give up on Wenger. Maybe it’s because he’s a local kid. Maybe it’s because of the promise he showed before this season. I’m not saying I’m right, or your wrong. I’m glad I’m not making the decisions(some of you are probably glad too). But wherever Wenger goes, he needs to find a way to get out of his own head.

  8. That USOC penalty. Did you have to bring that up? It still stings.

  9. I didn’t watch the game live, but I knew what happened. So I watched the beginning of the replay while waiting for the Eagles game to start (does that make me a masochist?). Before the start the announcers kept saying the Union would put in a “professional effort”, then the balloon popped. I always think Curtin waits to long to make changes, but tonight he should have put in Ayuk, Pfeffer and/or anyone for Vittoria after the 3rd goal. Why wait?

    Adam says it is a lack of effort and toughness, which is true, but part of that failure comes from a lack of on-field leadership (ala the Pete Rose reference above).

  10. From Zeitlin’s piece … “If the Union don’t win Sunday, they’ll finish the season with their worst record in franchise history.”

  11. Who stays, comes, goes should be dictated by how tbe SD wants to play and the most judicious use of resources possible – we’re making up for lost time & money, too. And we have a few guys who should retire. Then depth because it’s a long season.

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