Union match reports

Suncoast Invitational: Union 1-1 DC United

Philadelphia Union scored early, but D.C. United came back to earn a tie in the Suncoast Invitational preseason tournament in Clearwater, Florida. Sebastien Le Toux scored for the Union after CJ Sapong hit the crossbar, then Fabian Espindola blasted home a penalty to even the score.

Philadelphia started a strong lineup with Vincent Nogueira, Tranquillo Barnetta, and the newly returned Roland Alberg behind Le Toux, Sapong, and Chris Pontius. Fabinho, Ken Tribbett, Richie Marquez, and Keegan Rosenberry held the line in front of Andre Blake.

First half

Philadelphia controlled the ball early and threatened up the left when Fabinho crossed to the back post and Le Toux fired directly at Dykstra.

Fabinho was the catalyst again in the seventh minute when he connected with Chris Pontius’ smart run to put the winger behind the DC defense. Pontius crossed for Sapong, who popped the ball against the crossbar. Barnetta and Le Toux converged on the rebound, and the Frenchman cracked the ball into the open goal.

D.C. United’s first chance came in the 15th minute when Fabian Espindola fired a free kick into the wall from 25 yards out.

The match quickly became chippy as D.C. racked up a series of hard fouls in the middle third. First Barnetta and then Alberg complained after finding themselves on the business end of rough treatment.

Alberg picked up a yellow card moments later for a cynical shove in midfield on D.C. debutant Luciano Acosta.

Notably, D.C. United looked organized and coordinated in their pressing, while the Union fell in and out of a good shape. In the twenty-fourth minute, Philly’s strong pressure led to a turnover, and Sebastien Le Toux sent CJ Sapong through between the central defenders. Sapong was hauled down as Birnbaum earned the match’s third caution in the first half hour. Tribbett headed the resulting free kick across goal but nobody got on the end of it.

In the 30th minute, Marquez underhit a pass to Tribbett and a sprint toward goal began between Tribbett and Acosta that the former won. Marquez quickly caught up and Acosta could only fire at Blake falling away.

Thirteen minutes later, Sapong collected a loose ball in the middle and drove the central defenders deep. He floated a ball to the right flank where Le Toux could tap back to a charging Barnetta, who fired low but at Dykstra’s feet.

DC’s best chance of the half came in the final minute when Nick DeLeon pivoted and blasted over from 22 yards.

Second half

The second half started with a bang as Marquez’s midfield turnover let Espindola run in the left channel. Andre Blake was able to push the shot wide, but a marker had been laid down, and DC retained a good rhythm throughout.

Leo Fernandes, Ilsinho, and Brian Carroll entered at the break, and Ilsinho was immediately bright, linking with Sapong through the middle.

In the 55th minute, Patrick Nyarko drove down the endline and skipped past Pontius, only for the Union man to stick out a foot and commit a clear penalty.

Espindola blasted the spot kick past Blake to tie the match.

The 60th minute saw a complete defensive change with Warren Creavalle, Anderson, Joshua Yaro, and Taylor Washington entering the fray.

Eric Ayuk and Walter Restrepo came on for Pontius and Le Toux, while Fabian Herbers replaced Sapong up top.

The match became more physical with D.C. particularly willing to hack away at the Union in the middle third. Amusingly, Brian Carroll delivered a hard hit of his own for Philadelphia.

In the 68th minute, Taylor Kemp spun a sharp cross into the box that Blake pushed onto the feet of Carroll, who cleared for a corner.

Soon after, Restrepo responded by getting to the endline and centering for Herbers, who saw his shot blocked away.

The match petered out as both teams settled for shared points. The Union next play Tampa Bay at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20.

Brief thoughts

  • Draft picks: The Union’s first round draft picks all looked solid. Herbers’ touch remains tight, Yaro was calm on the ball and flashed his acceleration and speed of retreat, and Rosenberry was aggressive. Herbers, in particular, continues to look like he is ready for MLS minutes, while Rosenberry showed both the ability to put pressure on the opposition and some struggles with positioning as he got forward.
  • Center backs: Ken Tribbett looks extremely comfortable in back and continues to show a willingness to play in tight spaces. His partner, Richie Marquez, had another touch-and-go performance, with a pair of critical errors giving D.C. clear cut chances.
  • Wingers: The Union wingers look like they are developing a better understanding of their roles. Pontius’ angled runs drawing in a fullback before cutting upfield were delightful, and Le Toux made every effort to be a third man in the box when Fabinho had the ball.
  • Midfield: The starting midfield struggled to connect with the front three, though that should improve with minutes. Nogueira dropped between the central defenders often and looked to spray passes to the flanks. Alberg rotated well, moving continuously and showing a consistent first touch.
  • D.C. United: DC United proved a good opponent for contrast since they continue to look more organized as Ben Olsen grows as a coach. From a high pressure start to a tight, deep shape that only extended to the bottom of the center circle, DC was flexible and efficient defensively aside from Pontius’ seductive runs.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake; Fabinho (Taylor Washington 60’), Ken Tribbett (Joshua Yaro 60’), Richie Marquez (Anderson 60’), Keegan Rosenberry (Warren Creavalle 60’); Vincent Nogueira (Eric Ayuk 60’), Roland Alberg (Leo Fernandes HT); Chris Pontius (Walter Restrepo 60’), Tranquillo Barnetta © (Brian Carroll HT), Sebastien Le Toux (Ilsinho HT); C.J. Sapong (Fabian Herbers 60’)

DC United
Andrew Dykstra, Taylor Kemp, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, Sean Franklin (Collin Martin), Nick DeLeon (Paul Clowes), Markus Halsti (Chris Rolfe), Luicano Acosta (Alvaro Saborio), Marcelo (Rob Vincent), Patrick Nyarko (Luke Mishu), Fabian Espindola

Scoring Summary
PHI — Sebastien Le Toux (C.J. Sapong, Chris Pontius) 7’
D.C. — Fabian Espindola (Penalty) 56’

Disciplinary Summary
D.C. — Bobby Boswell (Yellow) 18’
PHI— Roland Alberg (Yellow) 21’
D.C. — Steve Birnbaum (Yellow) 25′
D.C. — Marcelo (Yellow) 27’
D.C. — Taylor Kemp (Yellow) 69’
PHI — Leo Fernandes (Yellow) 75′


  1. Rewind:
    Setting aside the performance by what Adam correctly describes as a “strong lineup” indeed, today’s YouTube feed from shiny Tampa did not completely thaw the cockles of my heart.
    But then.
    … but then I heard my mailbox rattle with the sound of my season ticket package arriving.

  2. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Does anyone know anything of Ray Gaddis’s status. He has not played for two consecutive games, at a time when game pace conditioning is a top priority.
    I read DC as playing a 4-4-2 with Acosta sometimes trailing behind Espindola, so that the Union’s three in midfield were outnumbered by at least one and sometimes two.
    Yaro two games in a row has committed significantly insecure back passes, seeming to assume everything was safe rather than being sure.
    I tHought BC’s foul was sending a “stop it” message to a DC midfielder who had been playing “hack-an-Alberg” in the first half. I thought Alberg’s card was the same..
    When they happened, in the first half our midfield combination play was precise and crisp in spite of superior midfield numbers, and our three in the attacking third produced more severe threats than did DC’s two.
    I thought Ilsinho had three perfectly conceived and weighted through balls in garbage time that could easily have resulted in goals. While I have no idea what the analytical criteria are for the category “critical passes”, they “felt” like such passes to me as I watched them. They were Maidana-like, but their deliverer maintained a much more consistent presence in the central channel than did The departed Argentinian.
    When BC is on the field we play two DCMs horizontally next to each other in front of the center backs, which compensates somewhat for the lesser quality of his offensive distribution.
    While it is preseason still and early to draw conclusions, loaning Leo Fernandes to the Cosmos seems to have improved his positional flexibility and ability to make an impact on the game. Whoever made that decision last year should be credited.
    I was pleasantly surprised by Warren Creavalle as a right back. I was expecting disaster based on an appearance at left back last season, but he seemed much improved and more positionally versatile than I had anticipated.
    If the same back four start Sturday against Tampa Bay and extend their game time to seventy-five or so minutes, that may be an indication of Jim Curtin’s current thinking. If the starting group is the group that came on as subs today, that would indicate that basic evaluation continues.
    It was good to learn that Taylor Washington has the pace to stay with Patrick nyarko.
    Playing Le Toux and Pontius higher up the pitch exposes the back four more than they were exposed last year. Hopefully Marquez will figure out the adjustments needed in his mental anticipation of enemy play.

    • Gaddis’ absence does seem a little strange especially given the Union website just did a piece on him being a leader on the backline. Minor injury perhaps?
      Tribbett starting is interesting. Is he just playing that well or is it an indication of something else? Is Yaro not ready or confident to start? Is Conceição having trouble communicating or getting comfortable in a new country and league?

      • I have no doubt Anderson is the managers solution and this is more about what Tribbett is able to offer. Maybe a misread though.

      • I’m not so sure. Unless their playing time flip-flops in the next games, I’m starting to think Tribbett will be the starter next to Marquez. We all know Jim’s motto of play well during practice, you get the start. Maybe it’s as CPfeif says and Anderson is having trouble communicating or isn’t showing well in practice.

  3. Old Soccer Coach says:

    In an article on the MLS website detailing the loan of Bernardo Anor from SKC to Minnesota United FC, the article stated that the loan frees up an international roster spot for SKC.
    By analogy, assuming that MLS rules apply equally to all teams cynic that I am, if the Union need an international slot to sign someone, they could loan someone who is international to BSFC for the year, assuming BSFC’s international slots are not all already occupied, which they may be as the announcement about Corey Burke indicates they have five internationals signed, and from somewhere I am fearing that five might be the USL limit.

  4. I feel it a responsibility to highlight for the public that the Philadelphia Union of the 2nd half was the Philadelphia Union we have become unfortunately accustomed to for six years — which then rightly and properly — puts into relief the Philadelphia Union we saw in the first half, which is unlike, already at this very early stage of the preseason- any Union team we have ever seen play.
    If you think that is a mouthful, good….it is a mouthful, and it is dead truth.
    First preseason game of any consequence- and the composure on the ball, the very purposeful spacing between players, off the ball movement in the midfield, the moving triangles and quick one touch passing to the feet (mostly), the technical skill, the discernible plan of building through the lines, the notion of knowing where the ball is supposed to go before having it arrive, the spaced CBs and high OBs up the line forcing play back into the middle as the defense drifts out to check… the savy of a mite ‘regista’ — with players showing for him constantly providing supporting angles and outlets was unlike anything we have seen in this city— less you consider Real Madrid of a few summers ago a viable and obviously reaching comparison.
    There is a certain poster who has chosen to withdrawal until wins urge him back to the conversation that I would love to – come out, come out wherever you are….can’t you see?…. this isn’t the same old Union they used to be. I know and respect your metric is wins and mine is aesthetic and that is okay… Okay– but please… do tell, that was dare I say actually enjoyable to watch… was it the orange blossom the verdant grass the sun glare? Isn’t that at least a start to something that says growth? No?…Well…first we learn to play well. It bares repeating…
    …First we learn to play WELL then the winning will come- I don’t- NO, I can’t have it any other way… maybe this team will have issues that keep cropping up… maybe the manager makes the wrong choices and limits their ability to actualize…no matter… this is clearly a more sophisticated team and it took all of 30 minutes to discern it. They were imperial against DC in the first half and Ben Olsen had the look of a manager who knew it at his half time interview.
    Maybe our Union stumble and bumble and get off to a slow start…maybe the keeper costs them some games, maybe their defense isn’t clean- maybe, maybe not, it will all play out but I feel pretty confident I will be able to watch them play and not feel disgust over the truly woeful display of sheer dumbfounding soccer that says USDA Select when the league is playing USDA Choice and the rest of the world is playing USDA Prime.
    Points of concern from the first half. I am marginally worried about overall team speed. I am concerned about Maurice Edu as he needs to get healthy asap so we can see what this team looks like with him in the 6 and how much that affects Noguiera’s touches per game… as he likely gets shuttled to 8.
    Xavi Hernandez once said if he didn’t touch the ball 80 times a game the team was not functioning properly and I am inclined to agree…Vincent Noguiera is pure class and he needs to be on the ball with this incarnation of a team as much as possible — he is the regista in the 6- the engine of ideas and I think as the players around him are likely to be much much better we are going to see his intelligence and ability to dictate play shine… loved him in the deep role… Maurice…you better be able to work with him…. just saying. No seriously, “Hey Mo.”

  5. I don’t know, maybe it’s my eyesight but in the game I was watching Rosenberry was invisible
    Can we stop with the Ilsinho nonsense and sign him already. Easily the best player once he entered the game. Plus he and Hebers seem to have a real chemistry. Hebers seems to know exactly when and where to run for him.
    Fabby looked pretty good. Some crosses into dangerous areas and some good interplay with Barnetta and Pontius and pretty confident on the ball in traffic, only one bad back pass from him

  6. I get the sense that Curtin has been studying Mauricio Pochettino and is looking to emulate his system and style of play. 4-2-3-1. Anyone else see that?
    I am pleased that we have increased the overall talent level on the roster vs. last year. Not with one single DP, but with many players up and down the line up.
    C’mon March 20th!

    • There have been a few comparisons to Poch here in the past few weeks. The youth, the midfield play, the formation, etc. There are worse managers to be compared to.
      If they can successfully implement the current Spurs methods (youth development, solid defense, relentless attacking), I think we’d all be absolutely ecstatic. Let’s temper expectations at the moment, but that appears to be the goal.

      • Vision. Plan. Philosophy.

      • the mere mention of Mauricio Pochettino on this sight with this team makes me swoon and nearly vagal down… that clammy sensation, haze of gray to bolts of light right before you pass out and reach for anything….
        a Bielsa protege through the vein of Pochettino…. remade on the eastern seaboard… we should be so lucky.
        shhhhh. one can only swoon and wish.

  7. I only got to watch the first half. Good possession, iffy killer instinct.
    Looks like they aren’t going to have a pure defensive midfielder out there. They are gonna go all in with Edu and Nogs and just hope everyone sprints back there.
    The first month or so could be rough.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Very likely a shrewd accurate forecast. Our center backs will be tested, heavily.
      In my guesstimate Tribett is being evaluated for possible signing to the first team roster. Also guessing, Gaddis has to have some variety of injury. My instinctive suspicion is that the back four groupings indicate continuing evaluation rather than decisions already made, because – assuming Gaddis were present and participating – the two groups are each 50% veteran and 50% rookie. Their consistent composition gives each group an opportunity to gel amongst themselves, a good tendency for defenders. I fully agree with El P that Anderson Conceicao will be on the field at the opening whistle in Dallas; I am assuming that he came into camp close to game fit as he was in season or close to it in the Southern Hemisphere.
      It will be fun to learn which of our guesses turn out and which are worthy of laughter! It is a good time of year.

      • Unless there has been a drastic turn… the Anderson I saw at YSC is undoubtably the class on the back line… soft. supple. cycler of the ball. decent speed. strong marking. left footed.
        Who supports him as back up is what the manager is searching for.

      • I really hope you are right. I hope we do get to see the flip-flop of playing time I mentioned earlier. It would be a shame to have signed a guy and then have him starting the bench till injuries or bad play brings him on.

  8. Knee over the ball says:

    The team is playing a noticeable different style and I like the possession. It is a much better game to watch and I am happy with progress made (deeper roster and different style). The mantra has been we are two deep at every position but I still see questions for JC as the season unfolds. Grant you down the road… but we seem to have depth at center mid, Are we getting good wing play? Are we solid in the back? Finishing?

    • Seems like our back four has a few questions, but not as many as years past.
      Fabinho-(Anderson/Marquez/Tribbet in some 2-man combo)-Rosenberry. That’s pretty solid. Plus Ray backing them up (unless his game comes around and/or KR’s drops off). Plus Taylor Washington has looked good on the left.
      Oddly, it feels like we are at least stable on the back.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Gotta wait for the first game against a really outstanding striker playing in a supportive system. I am thinking the upcoming preseason ones against BWP and Red Bulls, and To a lesser degree Toronto because of Giacovino and Altidore (lesser because the support for he attack was not as relentlessly consistent as Red Bulls, it seemed to me.
        You have to play somebody good to expose your weaknesses, so you can begin to scheme how to reorient, rejigger, hide and otherwise compensate. DC has seemed fairly individualistic in the attack last season, excellent individuals, but somehow not a sense of teamwork up top. I was expecting much more from Saborio rejoining Espindola, but they did not seem to reproduce what they had had at RSL.

      • rejigger. yes. folks. the word rejigger has made an appearance.

      • I agree that we need to see more. And there have been some unnerving moments from the young CD’s. But it’s hard to deny the potential of the 5-7 guys we have available back there. It won’t be pretty all the time this year, but as long as they don’t lose confidence, there is a very bright future for that group.
        Start from the back, and the rest opens up.

  9. I found it interesting Blake went the full 90. I guess it was so all the defenders could have a chance at playing with him. I wouldn’t be shocked if Jones went the full 90 on Saturday for the same reason. Then maybe McCarthy and Badr (sp? the BSFC kid) get a half each in the other two games.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Badr is not on the Suncoast roster posted on the Union website yesterday. Have no expectation that the roster could not be changed if someone really wanted to do so, but it is at least suggestive.

  10. I only caught a few minutes on YouTube, but I was able to form some thoughts based on this article.

    1) “DC United proved a good opponent for contrast since they continue to look more organized as Ben Olsen grows as a coach.” Patience can be rewarded. I’m hoping that Curtin can follow the same developmental path as Olsen.
    2) Kinkead mentioned this on Twitter for the 2nd game in a row, and he’s absolutely correct: Where is our CDM? I don’t care if it’s Edu or Carroll, but play a natural CDM at his natural spot. Don’t play guys out of position all preseason, and then expect them to seamlessly jump into their regular spot.
    3) Seeing the kids play well and composed is very comforting. Herbers has soothed the screams for a DP striker. I’m not saying he’s a full replacement, but there doesn’t seem to be a dire need at the moment. He’s buying the FO time to find the “right” guy.
    4) I’d like to see Anderson get more minutes, because it seems like we can have a very good 3-man rotation at Center-Back.
    5) Most importantly…PLAY THE STARTING XI SOON. I get that this is preseason, but it’s time now to get guys into game shape and prepare for real-game scenarios. That means play your best XI. If that includes Ilsinho, sign the damn player and get him on the field.
    We’re just over 2 weeks away from Opening Day. It’s time to start taking it seriously.

    • So my read on your #2 is that the DCM is going to act as the sweeper in front of the back four. He’s going to be virtually alone. In the match against the Fire Barnetta seemed more apt to drop back and help Nogs share that role or Barnetta was the sweeper while Nogs was pushed forward. In this one it seemed more like Nogs was the man designated playing the sweeper. I believe the thinking is that B.C. doesn’t have the speed to do this alone, so we’ve gotten Nogs and Barnetta subbing in Edu’s role. Of course I could be reading this incorrectly.

      • I understand that thinking, but it’s a flawed philosophy, for 2 reasons:
        1) BC is your backup CDM. If he can’t man the position in the manner you want it played, then why is he still on the roster?
        2) The guys playing that position are spending valuable minutes practicing a position they are not intending to play during the season.
        Play BC if Edu isn’t healthy. But let our “engine room” build chemistry and play in their natural positions. That would be Nogs, Barnetta, Alberg, Ilsinho (hopefully), Pontius, LeToux. Let them get used to guys being where they will be when the season starts.

      • Prag, I agree with you. I’m not saying it’s the right way to go. It is just what I’ve seen so far. Maybe they are also trying to see who can play where, if and when injuries occur. Again, not saying this is right, but it goes along with Big Earn’s penchant for wanting players to play multiple positions.

      • We’re on the same page. I just don’t think we are at our strongest with Nogs in a CDM-type of position. If we are forced into that, we are in trouble. I’m all about being able to play multiple positions, but if a guy won’t be successful there, don’t force the issue – find someone who will be successful.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Remember Curtin’s comments about BC over the winter, phrases like coach on the field, and helping me with the younger guys, and other such things. He could easily see time with BSFC in those roles among the young, if the roster rules allow. It certainly will happen that way in practice I would imagine.
        I think you have already seen option #2 at CDM, and it’s not BC. It’s Alberg coming into and continuing a highly fluid combination of three central midfieldErs all of whom can play all three positions competently, yes some are better in certain roles than others, but so far each one has covered effectively for the both of the other two. When BC comes on, some of that occurs a little bit, but the interchangeable fluidity drops off significantly, in part because BC is not an offensive distributor in the same category as Barnetta, Nogueira, Edu and Alberg.

      • Also this has always been the case but BC is there to kill games off. He is your steady defensive midfielder who will do anything he can to keep the ball away from the net, get in passing lanes, take smart fouls, get the ball out of play. Ultimately when he comes in they will drop someone else back as well not only because BC can’t cover as much ground but more due to the fact that the goal is to kill the play and flow of the other team and hold what you have. There is a role for this and it will be needed at some points in the season.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Do remember, the decisions you make now will control you for the next eight, and – all of us dream – nine months. Taking enough time to get them right is worthwhile, especially if there are significant restrictions on moving players between BSFC and the first team.

  11. Lucky Striker says:

    Tried to watch the 2 halves with an eye toward defense.
    Couple of things for me…….

    1). With roughly 3 weeks to the start of the season, why is Curtin purposely playing so many out of position? Makes the nightmare that has been “Square peg, meet round hole” pervasive again……..

    2). The German is really growing on me-but I don’t see the fuss over Yaro yet. Every game he seems to insist on playing square balls across the top of his own box to nobody in particular. That’s gonna get ya beat-I don’t care who you are.

    *others have mentioned the pace issue, but I think that might be a function of all the changes. They are thinking through it in attack, not yet playing to it………..

  12. A couple of things from me:
    1) Ilsinho I thought grew into the match. As OSC stated above he made some nice plays towards the latter part of the match. I didn’t think he really became effective till the 70 min mark on. He looks a bit chunky too?? Probably just needs a bit of fitness. Sign him.
    2) Fabi seems to be the only OB that wants to go towards the endline. Rosenberry and Washington seem solid defensively but tentative when taking the ball forward.
    3) Herbers looks like a real player. Nice runs. Not afraid to shoot. Believing more every match that he will be the gem of this draft class as I put forward in an earlier posting.

    4) As most have asked: Where is Ray?

    • Rosenberry may be gun-shy after getting burned last game by pushing too high. I get the feeling he’s trying to find the right balance.
      The question about Ray is going to get much louder if we don’t get more info soon.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Agreed, on both points!

      • You may be right about Rosenberry. But I don’t remember him taking the ball to the end-line at all this preseason. Maybe hid did in that first preseason match, but I don’t remember it.

  13. just a couple of comments from watching on the tube. Defense a bit of a problem. They are too slow. Their coming out passes are very poor quality and are impatient, too many thru balls too soon from too deep. Midfielders holding the ball for too long (must be less than 6 sec.) Players looked casual regarding supporting the ball. No support means no clear outlet means holding the ball too long means loss of possesion is possible too often. There was no organized press that I could see but rather random and individual. These things are on the coach and can be fixed but it is getting late already. Ilsinho, Rostrepo, Herbers will be a positive addition to the club. So far they look somewhat better than last year.

  14. Old Soccer Coach says:

    We need to see Ilsinho more times up against MLS-style defenses. How will he react to the physicality? That sample of data is at the moment 45 minutes against DC only, with the last 15 being garbage time.
    The rest of World soccer had from July to January to sign him and did not. He is 30. And he is coming from the eastern Ukraine, not currently known for political stability and live-ability. And the natural place for him to go, home to Brazil, is closing in on the end of its season. Where else is he going to go?
    What’s the rush? Besides, we have to create an international slot for him. That problem can be solved in at least two ways, but there is no need to make those decisions today that can wait for two weeks and be informed by those two additional weeks of accumulated data.

    • You’re right with almost everything you pointed out. Why I said to sign him, was is those last 15 minutes he showed more creativity on the ball than anyone else had. Maybe it was the players he was playing against. Part of it for me was that he just got more confident and “grew” into the game as they say. Plus I think his level of fitness may be questionable. But as you say, why rush.

  15. Didn’t get to see the game. But from the comments and the points I saw from the Chicago game it is looking more and more like splitting the CBs is a problem. Its not a problem on the offensive side it is that they do not get back into shape quick enough after getting the ball up the field. It seems to me that there are to many passes between the CBs and not quick enough movement to get the ball up the field. This seems to be getting both Marquez and Yaro caught on the ball with multiple bad back passes multiple times in multiple games now. While things take time to gel personally I think this is unacceptable. We can not have our CBs making multiple bad touches back to the keeper or each other within a game. There are to many speedy goal scorers in this league who will punish this team dearly for that. Tighten it up learn your spacing and distribute the ball quickly. Also CBs please move back into position after you distribute the ball so there isn’t a giant gaping hole down the center of the field. I understand the idea of form triangles get the outside backs up the pitch play the numbers game. Fine, but the support to drop the ball back from the outside backs should preferably come from the deep lying midfielder if you ask me. Otherwise Blake and this team are going to see 2-5 breakaways a game and that shouldn’t be.

    • Even if you didn’t see the game, I think you nailed it. Passing in the back is downright frightening. There’s been probably 7-8 back passes or square passes that had me yelling “OH NO!” because a striker was lurking much too close and a clean breakaway seemed imminent. And when the CBs split so wide, there is acres of space back there for an easy counter. That’s something to work on. Right now it feels more high-wire act than confident defense.

      Thought BC played an excellent half: spraying balls left, right, and forward (!) on target and on the ground; he covered more ground than I usually see from him, and even pushed into attack effectively a few times. If Edu, with his athleticism, plays the position the way BC did yesterday than we might have something there. Kind of surprised Alberg has not played at all on the wing. When Edu is healthy, there is only 3 MF spots and 4 players: Edu, Alberg, Barnetta, and Nogs- someone will be the odd man out and I’d assume it would be Alberg to either right or left wing. And I agree with others above that you need a true DCM (Edu or Carroll) in there especially with the shaky passing in the back and the wide split of the CBs. Edu will have to be our Diego Chara: the speed to cover up any atrocious deep turnovers and the nastiness to hack down whoever is necessary or else they’ll be conceding at least 3 goals a game.

      • Regarding outlets and pressure release valves instead of the dangerous pass across acres of space (which incidentally I have less problem with and I believe will become more and more easy as it is drilled into the players) I would hope to also see Andre playing a more pivotal role in the build up- sliding left and right as the CB or OB needs.
        My one wonderment about him is his feet… ability to cycle possession comfortably with the right and left foot…
        In today’s game…the keeper needs to be another field player- a plain and simple expectation.

      • I believe you are correct- it will improve over time. Right now though, I watch with one hand over my eyes. Interesting you bring up involving Blake, don’t know if you watched the mic-ed up segment today. Thought I saw Curtin chiding that they passed back to Blake far too many times (probably was after Chi game). I agree with you there too, but right now they just aren’t putting enough mustard behind those back passes.

      • When I was watching the first half I felt like the CBs weren’t split wide enough when being pressed, specifically Tribbett. He seemed to come in too narrow when Marquez had possession and was being pressed. This seemed to make life much easier for the pressing DC players when Marquez attempted to move the ball to Tribbett since they had less ground to cover when they shifted their attention to the man in possession.

        If the CBs can stay wide and handle that pressure I could see a lot of goals coming or at least quality chances. The U look very promising in the attacking 3rd IMO. Just need to get in the attacking 3rd more often…

  16. 1. 48 comments in 12 hours after the first real preseason game! Hello, Jay?
    2. 1st half shows Curtin can coach to Big Ern’s style of play. Encouraging.
    3. Talent will follow investment and winning style. More wins should follow.
    4. #s 1 – 3 = Patience. For improvement, not regression. Lose on talent, not on tactics.
    5. Step up, Mr. Edu. This is yours.

  17. After I watched our game I checked out NYCFC v Montreal Impact. Anyone catch it? To be honest NY looked much improved and it made me worry…

    • Well…they do have some world class talent on the field and a manager who will command that talent’s respect even if said players are a bit….long in the tooth.
      I detest the band box bullshit baseball park that team plays in but to be honest I bet Pirlo and Lampard love as it requires less running.
      We will see how they hold up in the dog days of summer… relying on a 37 and 36 year old to control the midfield…

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