Union match reports

Recap: Armada 1-0 Union

Philadelphia Union opened the 2016 preseason with a 1-0 defeat to Jacksonville Armada. Former Colorado Rapids striker Charles Eloundou, a trialist with Jacksonville, scored the only goal of the match with a nifty 18-yard chip in the 80th minute. It was the second year in a row that the Armada defeated the Union, winning 3-1 last season.

Philadelphia manager Jim Curtin used three different teams for the match, cycling through 31 players. The opening half hour saw what would be considered a Union first team (minus Maurice Edu, who continues to rehab from sports hernia surgery), with the middle third of the match given to a mix of trialists and Bethlehem Steel players, and the final third featuring what could be considered the second eleven.

Philly Soccer Page is not going to go analysis-crazy after a single preseason match, but we have a few questions and observations after the initial 90 minutes of 2016.

First XI:
  • There were some neat passages of play between the central midfield trio. Roland Alberg and Tranquillo Barnetta, in particular, had a few nicely worked moves. Vincent Nogueira grew into the game as the first half hour wore on.
  • Fabinho was Fabinho and Ray Gaddis was Ray Gaddis. The Brazilian left back had one of the best forward runs of the half, just missing C.J. Sapong with a cross from near the end line. Jacksonville was able to attack going down the Union’s left side in the space Fabinho left when he sprang forward. On the other side, Ray Gaddis stayed home considerably more and only jumped into the attack on rare occasions.
  • C.J. Sapong had the best Union chance of the opening half hour. He latched onto a bouncing ball in the box and forced a save from the Jacksonville goalkeeper from about 8 yards.
Second XI:
  • Who are all these guys?
    Contracted to Bethlehem Steel: Ryan Richter, Derrik Jones, Michael Daly, Ken Tribbett
    Trialists: who was praised by Jim Curtin when he was with the team in the 2015 preseason.
    Union Draft Picks: Mitchell Lurie, Cole Missimo
  • Andre Blake’s best moment came with the second group, saving from close range with his feet just before halftime.
  • The group’s best opportunity came from Ilsinho, who collected a partially cleared corner kick, drove into the box, and fired a curling effort that just missed high and wide of goal.
Third XI:
  • Joshua Yaro had a few neat touches and showed good passing range, even pulling off a smooth Cruyff turn in his own half. Yaro was closest to Eloundou when he scored for Jacksonville, but the finish was quality and the defender can’t be blamed individually.
  • Fabian Herbers looked ready to play a part this season. The number six overall pick looked quick with and without the ball and showed good movement with his runs.
  • Walter Restrepo had a few nice moves up the left side. The winger looked to run at the Jacksonville backline and was able to beat his man and serve the ball a few times. Eric Ayuk on the other side was able to throw in a few crosses as well, but was probably caught in possession just as many times.


Who is going to score the goals? The match featured few clear cut chances for the Union and fans have to be wondering if another striker signing is in the cards.

How will this midfield work together? Seeing a few nice combinations with Barnetta and Alberg in what is only Alberg’s third day with the team is promising. Vincent Nogueira joined in on the fun as well as the half progressed. Fitting Maurice Edu into this group will be interesting to watch.

Can Philadelphia ever beat Jacksonville? C’mon fellas…

What observations and questions do you have after the first 90 minutes of Union soccer in 2016? Let us know in the comments.

Philadelphia Union Lineups
First Half
Andre Blake, Fabinho (Ibrahim Diaby, 34), Anderson Conceicao (Mitchell Lurie 34), Richie Marquez (Michael Daly 34), Ray Gaddis (Ryan Richter 34), Vincent Nogueira, Tranquillo Barnetta (Ilsinho 34), Roland Alberg (Derrick Jones 34), Chris Pontius (Cole Missimo 34), Sebastien Le Toux (Yosef Samuel 34), CJ Sapong (Maazou Moussa 34)

Second Half
John McCarthy, Ibrahim Diaby (Taylor Washington 62), Mitchell Lurie (Ken Tribett 62), Michael Daly (Joshua Yaro 62), Ryan Richter (Keegan Rosenberry 62), Brian Carroll, Ilsinho (Leo Fernandes 62), Derrick Jones (Warren Creavalle 62), Cole Missimo (Walter Restrepo 62), Yosef Samuel (Eric Ayuk 62), Maazou Moussa (Fabian Herbers 62)

Scoring Summary
JAX – Charles Eloundou 80

Stats (First Half: JAX / PHI (First Half))
Shots: 5-5 (4 / 2)
On goal: 3-4 (2 / 2)
Fouls: 10-10 (5 / 8)
Corners: 4-9 (3 / 5)
Possession: 44-56 (46% / 54%)

Disciplinary Summary
PHI – Tranquillo Barnetta 21 (yellow)


  1. old soccer coach says:

    What do I think I saw tonight? First, I could not see uniform numbers for the Union when the camera shot took in a wide area of the field, so in a few cases what I think I saw was deductive rather than direct observation. That Behind the Crest published a list of players by alphabet and also one in number sequence is most helpful. Full marks and gratitude to Chris Winkler and Behind the Crest

    As last year, there were three separate thirty or so minute games. The presumed first team played the first thirty of thirty-five minutes. The least organized side played next from minute 34 or so to minute 64 or so, I presume to be on the field against the opposition’s first team. With the exception of Vince Nogueira the side was made from unsigned draft picks or trialists, hence wanting to see them against the best available opposition. The last twenty –eight minutes were player by rostered first team reserves and signed draft picks and a few signed BSFC players. I refer to them as the A side, the C side and the B side. Maurice Edu did not participate at all; Roland Alberg started the game.

    Adam Cann’s recent tactical analysis article set was right on the money. The starting shape of the A group seemed to mirror the Bethlehem Steel FC I-Beam. Le Toux and Pontius defaulted to positions almost as high as Sapong across the field bunched together into the central channel, creating space into which they could run when a mid or a back was in a position to pass into the wide spaces. The three midfielders were stacked vertically as their default position, leaving the flank midfield spaces open as opportunities for runs creating triangles wide consisting of a back, a mid and a winger. Alberg, Barnetta and Nogueira read each other well providing both defensive cover and offensive support when any one of the three spotted and opportune interception or tackle. I presume when healthy Edu will be #6, moving Nogueira to #8 and keeping Barnetta at #10 with Alberg moving to the bench as the first sub for the central spine with Barnetta Edu and Nogueira shifting to cover the specific contingency. The bottom of the I-Beam was Fabinhio on the left Conceicao in the left center, Marquez on the right center, and Gaddis on the right. This particular game Gaddis did not show well as part of the triangle in the vacant wide midfield spaces; he also seemed to have the primary defensive responsibility for the speed demon who embarrassed us last year early, Keita. Marquez, Conceicao and Fabinho all seemed effective participating as a vertex in one of those aforementioned wide midfield triangles. Fabinho also got forward, with two crosses that shoulda, coulda, woulda.

    Defensively the A side allowed no real danger to threaten the goal, save once when Blake’s elite athleticism was called upon. Jacksonville was not organized to start its attacks from the vacant wide midfield spaces. Future teams will be forewarned and should attack through those avenues if they can, those will be more rigorous tests. A Benny Feilhaber, or a Vincent Nogueira, will play big cross-field switches testing the weak side fullbacks. I would bet that Edu and Nogueira can be effective shields by themselves in front of the center backs. After they are expended, the midfield formation will change slightly from the vertical stack of the I-beam to the triangle with two vertices in front of the center backs familiar from the shapes of last few years.

    The C side was quite ragged when it first came onto the field. But so were my observations of it. Only after the game was over do I think I may have correctly deduced who was where. The shape changed as indicated above. Jacksonville began to find themselves. Passes were not finding their targets, runs were not correctly anticipated offensively. But the purpose was to place players about who decisions have yet to be made under as much stress as was available to see how they respond. To the group’s credit, Jacksonville did not score. To the group’s credit, after halftime the helter-skelter quotient was noticeably reduced.

    The B side was noticeably smoother than the C, but was not strong enough down the center defensively to give up the familiar triangle for the new vertical stack. If the first team ever has to put Creavalle and Carroll out together for any length of time, prayer to all known gods accompanied by appropriate sacrifices. The goal was nice chip that caught McCarthy and his normal athleticism but is in part due to a failure to pressure a ball carrier open in the critical space in front of the CBs. A mistake punished well by the opponent. Otherwise this group seemed plausible as a defensive unit. I remember that offensively they forced one strong save from the Jacksonville backup keeper. I could not directly identify the group’s left center back. I deduce from the lists that it must have been Ken Tribett, but do not know for sure.

    A useful preseason game. Laurels to Adam Cann who called the tactics excellently.

    • I presume that when Edu is healthy, he will play #6, Nogueira at #8, Barnetta at #10, and Alberg out wide, pushing Le Toux to the bench. Alberg would presumably rotate back into the middle to spell Barnetta late in the game if needed.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Shrewd thought. The transfermarkt graphic representing his secondary positions included offensive right flank, if I remember correctly.

      • Agreed. SLT’s days as a starter are numbered. If they ever pick up a striker, Sapong will also compete for time on the wing.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    I have only one question as I was unable to view the game, how did the new LCB look… particularly as it concerns covering for an often zealous Fabinho who needs good cover.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Right, good question.
      First point: the broadcast was Jacksonville oriented, heavily. The pre-game graphic represented them as playing a 3-5-2. Easier for Fabinho to foray forward with us in possession.
      Mike Servedio above mentions Fabinho getting caught up field once. It was unclear to me because of the size of my screen, the resolution of the broadcast and the age of my eyes whether his rescuer was Conceicao or Marquez. Conceicao’s skin tone is light and I did not get clarity on whether chin whiskers were present. For whatever intangible reasons at the time I assumed it was Marquez, but as they say, “confidence is low.”
      The only other thing I can offer is that the back four looked smooth and coordinated in their segment of the game. Certainly Conceicao did not appear to not belong, there being two ways inwhich to stand out on a soccer pitch.

      • The only thing I really noticed from Anderson was he was late going into a tackle and was called for a foul. The foul seemed to say “hi, I’m your opponent tonight and I will be in your face the whole time”. Nothing big. Marquez and Anderson seemed pretty smooth together. A lot of plays got broken up before it even got to them.
        I would also like to add I thought the ‘C’ team or the ‘kids’ looked good despite letting in the goal. And I hate to disagree with OSC but I don’t think the goal scorer was Yaro’s man. He played as the Rcb and the goal was scored more from the Lcb’s side. Yaro was as advertised. Quick of feet, beat his man to the ball. He looked small but able to overcome his size. Rosenberry also looked good. Better than Gaddis in my opinion. He did not look panicky with the ball at his feet like Gaddis usually does. Herbers looked very active and made good runs. His hold-up play needs some work, but it wasn’t horrible.
        Despite the loss, they didn’t look that bad.

      • I thought of a couple other things…Nogs looked good. He repeatedly got forward. More into the final third than I’ve ever seen him. He looked free and comfortable next to Alberg and Barnetta. Will it be the same next to Edu?
        Warren Crevalle. Crevalle is a mystery to me. There were times when he was sitting next to B.C. and I was wondering why he wasn’t attacking with him. Then there where times he would make a play from nowhere and I was left asking myself “where did he come from?”. I’m not really confident with him as a DCM if he needs to come in because of injuries.
        Brian Carrol looked as fit and as good as last year. He got placed with the ‘kids’ and you could see him yelling during the corner. Very active for the first preseason match.
        Restrepo and Leo had a conference over a free kick and seemed to have some kind of rapport from the Cosmos. It didn’t translate very well during regular play.
        Ayuk was very active. He seems to have gotten a few new tricks up his sleeve. He’s still not getting respect from Ref’s. Should have drew 2-3 fouls, got one. Ref was a MLS regular.
        Lastly, of the trialists, only Moussa and Ilsinho did anything of worth. Both had a shot on goal. Moussa did well in hold up play and generally out-musclled his opponent. His problem would seem to be consistent scoring. Announcers said he has like 18-19 goals for his national team in maybe 50 or less appearances. I don’t remember that clearly.

  3. Goals?! Don’t talk about goals! Are you kidding me?! Goals?!
    I know it’s early but…

  4. And so the New Era has officially begun. Into the breach, boys!
    Huge props to Mike and OSC for their comprehensive recaps. Further evidence of PSP’s supremacy. Much obliged, gentlemen.
    Ilsinho’s highlight reel would have you believe he is some kind of stutter-stepping elastico machine. I wonder if he has outgrown the defensive naivete of his earliest caps with the Brazilian national team …

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      He didn’t seem to have much effect of the game when he was on the pitch. When the announcers noticed him, he was out wide, usually left.

  5. The Little Fish says:

    Great recap. Thanks PSP. I missed the game but feel like I’m totally caught up now. How did Concaicao look at left center back? What about Taylor Washington? I’m curious how they both played.

  6. Deja vu. This team is going to be bereft of goals again. McInerney scored twice last night against an actual MLS side. (I know, Jack Mac is a petulant striker. So are the best strikers in the world. We need someone like that.) Curtin can’t coach offense. (Jury’s out on whether he can coach defense.) I suspect Union will be losing a lot more 1-0 games in the year to come. To the Galaxy we’ll lose 3-0, like always. Oh, and we’ll make an inspiring but ultimately unsuccessful run in the US Open Cup. Only reason I’ll even pay attention is so that I’m not tailgating alone in lot A.

  7. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Washington seemed coordinated with his defensive colleagues. There was one tackle right next to the box that brought anguished protests from the Jacksonville commentators. He did not stand out well or poorly among his group.

  8. Excellent writing Mike. Would have liked a win because it’s the Union. All in all there is a lot to be excited about going into the season. Still need a DP striker but everything else appears to be there. Starters need to move the ball forward. Possession means nothing if you’re just passing the ball with blooping air balls aka hacky sack. Play it wide and to feet and move it forward. Hoping Rosenberry gets the start. Like his ability with the ball at his feet. Time for quality skill along with speed and athleticism. It’s there. Hoping Curtin gives players solid look and shot at starting positions. He also needs to show he can coach to win and come up with in game adjustments and formations that play to strength and skill. Some of last years go to guys will be better as subs. No more coaching not to lose but to win.

  9. Although it’s the first preseason Match, I am a bit skeptical about the offense. I would have like to see some more productively in the offensive end, especially with the first team. I think one of the keys to the offenses susccess will be putting together the best wingers on the pitch. Obviously we can’t be sure who they will be yet, but Le Toux will not be the answer, he needs to be a sub. Restrepo looks very promising. I was impressed with his movement with the ball and his success with bearing defenders one on one.

  10. el Pachyderm says:

    Boy I love this club… I feel like a little kid who missed a sleep over and now has no idea what happened and is unable to share or reminisce in the adventure the next day at school.
    I make a point to never miss a Messi game cause why would some one ever do that and the Union ~ the two most important aspects of futbol to me.

  11. old soccer coach says:

    Wikipedia information about the international trialists listed on the Behind the Crest Match List for the Jacksonville game.
    Ouwe Moussa Maazou: 27 years old national of Niger [not Nigeria as the Jax commentators said] last club Changchun Yatai (China), previously with CSKA Moscow in an as yet undetermined capacity.
    Ilsinho: 30 years old Brazilian last club Shakhtar Donetsk where he played as a right winger.
    Ibrahimi Diaby: 20 years old Ivory Coast Ivory coast U-20s.
    I have not looked them up on transfermarkt.

  12. MikeRSoccer says:

    Yaro’s passing ability and comfort with the ball at his feet makes me wonder if he is the ‘true CDM’ we have been missing since Okugo left. Based on his history, it’s unclear if he has ever played the position, but he certainly seems to have many of the attributes that make for an excellent CDM. It’s early, but Anderson and Marquez look extremely strong as a CB pairing. With Edu injured, I hope that Yaro at CDM is at least attempted in the preseason.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      The article interviewing the Georgetown coach indicated that both Rosenberry and Yaro had had a little experience at dcm.

    • Lets say we stop that talk right there. Yaro stated himself he was a centerback. He wants to play centerback. I am tired of this team playing people out of position. If the guy wants to be a CB let him. Make him prove that he is worthy of the position.

  13. Next year, this game should either not be the first scrimmage, or it shouldn’t be broadcast. Too many expectations built up on one game that means nothing where some starters played for 30 minutes.
    It was a practice. It was guys playing together for the first time. I don’t care what the score was, as long as it wasn’t an embarrassment, and they looked like a bad JV high school team. And by all accounts, they didn’t. They apparently looked like a bunch of guys getting to know each other.
    Check back in 2 weeks and let’s see how they look. Until then, everyone settle.

  14. I’d agree except that Armada also a bunch of guys getting to know each other. In a “practice” or “pick-up” game I’d expect some talented offensive players to try some shit, score some goals, at least try to do so… Unless we still don’t have any talented offensive guys! (Or Curtin has them doing some conservative “don’t give up any goals” shit.)

    • Still think that it’s not worth reading too much into the first match of the preseason, but if you want to freak out about, knock yourself out.

  15. Knee over the ball says:

    I wonder what our optimal back four will end up being for the season. How long do you wait before you begin trying Yaro and/or Rosenberry in the starting lineup? It seems like he needs to assess what he has and then commit at some point to playing his best lineup.

    • This is true…but there has been one scrimmage. Rookies need time to adjust, so it’s not likely they’ll start quickly. Rookies rarely start from Day 1. They apparently showed their quality in this game, but let’s see what happens in the next few against tougher competition before rushing to judgement anywhere.
      Logically, you can expect the veterans to start. But if the rookies prove they are better, it’s not likely that Curtin will leave them rotting on the bench.
      Keep in mind, Curtin’s job is on the line with these decisions. He knows this.

      • The trouble with hanging Curtin’s job on this directly is that he might decide he needs to win now. As much as we want to, we’re realistically trying to build something bigger and sustainable. So let’s try to avoid the slippery slope of pressuring coaches until the philosophy and vision get a chance to shine through. If we win now, great. If we don’t, show us progress and a light at the end of the tunnel. Develop the young guys.

        Personally, I’d start the veterans early in the season to see how they do. Bring in the youth the moment they falter.

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