Union match reports

Match Report: Columbus Crew SC 1-2 Philadelphia Union

Preparing to face the 2015 Eastern Conference Champion in their home opener at a stadium where the Philadelphia Union had never won, with just 17 players, after a disappointing start to the season last week — you would have forgiven the Union for targeting only one point in tonight’s match.

Instead, they’re coming back with all three.

The Union spoiled the homecoming party for Columbus Crew SC, pulling out a 2-1 win behind a brace from offseason acquisition Chris Pontius and another stellar game from the ascendant Andre Blake.

In stoppage time of the first half, Pontius broke open the scoring with a sure-footed finish off a throw in, stunning the home fans into silence. His second goal, in the 72nd minute, was a rocket-blast from outside the 18, capping a pleasingly competent counterattack from the Union. Though beaten once by Kei Kamara, Blake stood on his head in the final 30 minutes, making save after save to ensure that the Union completed the unexpected victory.

First half

Coming off a listless loss to open the season against FC Dallas, Jim Curtin made just two changes to his side. Richie Marquez, who had been slowed by injury in the preseason, returned to the backline in place of Anderson. Meanwhile, an ankle injury suffered by Vincent Nogueira on Friday brought Warren Creavalle into the lineup, pairing with Brian Carroll in central midfield.

Playing their first game at home since losing MLS Cup 2015, Columbus were content to start the game playing on the counter-attack, confident in their ability to roast the Union on the break. Early on, it seemed like that strategy would bear fruit, with Kei Kamara and Harrison Afful rampaging through the space left behind when Fabinho pressed forward.

However, the first real chance would fall to Philly after 14 minutes. A looped ball into the box found the head of Pontius, who couldn’t connect his header with a teammate. Quickly recovering the ball, though, he sent a sharp cutback to a charging Ilsinho, forcing Steve Clark to make a save.

Seven minutes later, C.J. Sapong used his physicality to bully the ball down to Clark’s left post, but his pass left Ilsinho of two minds and the Brazilian’s chipped effort floated harmlessly over the bar. Ilsinho, Pontius, and Sapong spent much of the first half harassing the Crew back-line, forcing a few dicey moments from Clark.

The Crew soon grew back into the game, moving the ball with relative ease around the Union’s double pivot of Carroll and Creavalle. Ethan Finlay came inches away from scoring on a clean header, sparked by a strong run to the end line by Afful, but his shot went inches wide.

Andre Blake, coming off a spectacular performance in Frisco, showed his class multiple times in the first half, including a sprawling save on a shot by Afful from distance and on a blast by Hector Jimenez.

The Crew’s ascendancy was abruptly halted in stoppage time when the Union notched their first goal of the 2016 campaign. Taking a long throw in at right back, the rookie Keegan Rosenberry evoked memories of Sheanon Williams with his delivery into the box. Strong muscle by Sapong held two defenders off the ball, which fell right at the feet of Pontius, who made no mistake with a one-time finish to open his Union account.

The crowd at Columbus’s home opener was stunned into silence as the Blue and Gold took a 1-0 lead into halftime.

Second half

Both managers were content to throw out the same sides to start the second half. Columbus amped up the offensive pressure to start the half, controlling the ball. However, they had little to show for it, thanks to a much calmer performance from the Union’s defensive unit.

Seeking to break open the game, Columbus brought on Cedrick Mabwati for Jimenez after 59 minutes. Within moments, the Crew nearly leveled the score following a bad giveaway from Brian Carroll, but Kei Kamara’s shot sliced just wide of the post. The Union pulled the largely ineffective Leo Fernandes at the 61 minute mark, bringing on Sebastien Le Toux.

It would be Pontius, once again, who doubled the Union’s advantage after 71 minutes. Sapong started the counter-attack at midfield, and Le Toux took the ball off his feet in order to fizz a pass toward Ilsinho at the top of the 18. Though the ball was poked away from him, it fell to Pontius making a late run, and he made no mistake with a ferocious shot from outside the 18 yard box.

Columbus suddenly had it all to do, and they responded with a pair of substitutions. Justin Meram and Mohammed Saeid replaced Ethan Finlay and Waylon Francis. Meanwhile, Roland Alberg hit the pitch for the Union in place of Ilsinho.

In the 78th minute, the Union wasted a glorious chance to finish off the game. On a counter, Alberg found Le Toux in tons of space in the box. The Frenchman spurned both a clinical finish or a far-post cross to an open runner, instead delaying on the ball and finally firing right into the onrushing Clark.

At the other end, hearts leapt into throats as the referee appeared to whistle for a penalty on Fabinho. The handball was correctly deemed to be just outside the box, and Will Trapp blasted the short free kick over the bar from the top of the 18.

With Columbus asking all the questions, the game became another Andre Blake showcase. He stopped a point-blank attempt by Meram in the 83rd minute, and another from Mabwati in the 87th. On the ensuing corner, though, the Crew pulled one back through an unstoppable Kamara header, as he found the very top corner of Blake’s goal.

Fabian Herbers had replaced a cramping Pontius in the 86th minute, but that didn’t stop waves of Columbus pressure. The only thing that could was Blake, who pulled off another superlative stop on Mearam in the 89th minute.

A cross aimed at Kamara in the first minute of stoppage time missed his head by inches. That proved to be the last real attempt for the Crew, as Philadelphia saw out the final four minutes en route to securing their first victory of the season.

It was a result that very few expected entering the evening, but that won’t bother Jim Curtin and his squad, who head back to the Delaware Valley with three big points.

The Union will be back in action next Sunday with their home opener at Talen Energy Stadium, hosting the New England Revolution. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake; Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Ken Tribbett, Keegan Rosenberry; Warren Creavalle, Brian Carroll ©; Chris Pontius (Fabian Herbers 86′), Ilsinho (Roland Alberg 75′), Leo Fernandes (Sebastien Le Toux 61′); C.J. Sapong.
Substitutes not used: John McCarthy, Anderson, Ray Gaddis.

Columbus Crew SC
Steve Clark; Waylon Francis (Mohammed Saeid 74′), Gaston Sauro, Michael Parkhurst ©, Harrison Afful; Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp; Hector Jimenez (Cedrick Mabwati 59′), Federico Higuain, Ethan Finlay (Justin Meram 74′); Kei Kamara.
Substitutes not used: Brad Stuver, Corey Ashe, Amro Tarek, Emil Larsen.

Scoring Summary
PHI – Chris Pontius 45+1’
PHI – Chris Pontius 71′

Disciplinary Summary
PHI – Fabinho 56’ (yellow)
PHI – Brian Carroll 65’ (yellow)

Philadelphia Union Columbus Crew SC
8 Shots 19
4 Shots on Target 7
4 Shots off Target 10
0 Blocked Shots 2
4 Corner Kicks 6
15 Crosses 26
0 Offsides 0
9 Fouls 8
2 Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
327 Total Passes 469
73% Passing Accuracy 79%
40.8% Possession 59.2%
48 Duels Won 42
53.3% Duels Won % 46.7%
17 Tackles Won 12
6 Saves 2
26 Clearances 24

89 Comments

  1. OH MY FUCKING GOD WE WON.

    So.

    Blake is going to be one of the best GKs in MLS soon.

    We see why Rosenberry is starting in place of Gaddis. So much calmer on the ball, actually capable of playing offense. And steady on defense too.

  2. I don’t have anything negative to say.

  3. Mickey Goldmill says:

    Some bubble gum – cigar shaped.
    Stick-Um.
    Sledge of tacky used to hold The Doors poster on your domitory wall.
    Duct tape but not electrical tape.
    Packing tape but not Scotch.
    Scotch single malt.
    Glenfiddich in a marbled botton glass four fingers for congratulations. A toast to perserverence as Twitter recounted.
    .
    Holding your breath with helium escaping the sides.
    A win.
    .
    All this just to say… hoping to train one eye on the game but only being able to watch Puebla, Club Tiujauna, Tigres, Pumas, Cruz Azul then Veracruz or Chiappas but not the Union… Oh no…not the Union is a rare kind of torture. Work is not torture. Work is work.
    .
    As the crow flies, sometimes this club is mearly 17 miles away but instead of free public TV…I get lovely coverage to a game in Mexico City at 7,000 feet.
    .
    A win is a win boys…wish I knew what it looked like though I can imagine it was hectic to say it best… will read the reports as they come in from those who know best… those able to Live Well.
    .
    Cheers.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      You would have loved the first twenty to twenty-five minutes. The stats say Columbus had the Possession edge, but we were not, verily repeat not, bunkered in. We were on the front foot almost as much as was Columbus, we were fairly effectively trying to possess the ball, especially given that it was Carrol and Creavalle in the central midfield, and we were keeping the associated high line defensively. Marquez had to run onto a kamara breakaway from the side, which he did successfully, and Columbus was not attacking Fabinho as often as we would have expected.
      .
      After that, the pace slowed noticeably. As our central midfield lagged on energy, our defensive line dropped deeper, and by the end of the first half we were defending the defensive third, with – to my eye which is not all that good with the spacing concepts that are often mentioned – good spacing vertically and horizontally among the back eight. THe backs were a yard behind the eighteen.
      .
      From then on we were essentially playing for the counterattack. As Creavalle became exhausted, he began to make more mistakes with his attempts to start the offense, but there was no obvious sub for him on the bench, especially after Alberg showed less energy than expected when he subbed on for Ilsinho in the 68th (?).

      • Thanks for the insight…there is so much for which I nit pick and I certainly cannot in a game I did not see nor would I try to be overly critical in finding a way to secure 3 points on the road…
        .
        I guess my Columbus: Release. Rotation. Step back 3 – comment earlier in the week was actually wrong…for which I am glad.
        .
        So much excitement to see the team start in a new direction this season only to already be missing huge man minutes to injury.
        .
        Keep it together with tape in the meantime.

  4. Is this real life? Is this gonna be forever?

  5. The Philadelphia Union:
    Scored first
    Won without Vincent in the line up
    Have 1 win before the end of winter
    Are ahead of NYRB
    Have a keeper that can shot stop, not cough up rebounds, and can come out a claim a corner AND that keeper is the starter
    **pinches self**

  6. Shit yeah MF-ers!! We got the 3 points!!! Not gonna lie when Columbus scored, I was convinced we getting a draw out of it. But hey, I’ve been a fan since day one, so that’s expected. Anyway, I thought Crevalle was good tonight. And of course Blake was outstanding. Not bad all around though. Nice to see them finish when they had the chances. Pontus finished with both feet. Good stuff. Makes whatever happens next week a little easier to swallow. 2 wins from these first 3 games would be unreal. We might be a real team when Barnetta comes back
    .
    Also Andrews writes all the match reports from here on out 🙂

  7. Drhammerheel says:

    Blake Blake Blake Blake Blake
    Damn 3 points feels good tonight
    My Union Haiku

  8. pragmatist says:

    Yeah, I didn’t see that coming. Well done, boys!
    .
    There were no “bad” performances, but the weakest players may have been BC (bad turnovers), and Seba (finish that on the first touch). These guys are great substitutes, but I hope we don’t have to get 90′ out of either very often this year (yes, I know Seba was a sub).
    .
    Also, we need a game where Blake doesn’t need to make 10 saves. A little less action would be much more comfortable.
    TOO MANY TURNOVERS. Teams that aren’t sleepy will make us pay.
    .
    Ok, enough of the negatives.
    .
    Marquez is the key to that defense. That back line looked solid all night long (minus a couple of rookie mistakes from KR, luckily 40 yards up field). Creavalle is definitely a solid deputy.
    .
    Pontius. Yes. Well done on bringing him in. Stay healthy and those well-timed runs will play off repeatedly this year!
    .
    Great game before the home opener. Good feelings have returned.

  9. sam philly says:

    Great game for the Union. However, I don’t know whether to be happy or disappointed that Wenger is all of a sudden becoming a badass for Houston. 2 goals and 2 assists for him in 2 games.

  10. Very pleased. Sapong, ilsinho, pontius very effective together. Leo looks a bit lost over these first 2 games. We had (predictably) no ability to play out of the back with a central pair of creavalle and carroll. If our center backs give the ball to BC one more time where there’s a hint he might get pressed, I might lose it. Every time columbus would tempt us to play that ball up the middle then press like crazy. BC was not awful when defending tonight, but that’s his ceiling. No idea why he got that start and we didn’t try something that sounds more like alberg.
    .
    But forget all that. 3 points and good feelings.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Reference Alberg, you may have noticed that he seemed to have less effect tonight than last week. Makes me wonder about an illness? Saponin was doing the defensive work on the flank and in the box.
      .
      BC as an offensive quarterback is not a good idea. He did a better job negating Higuain this week than he did Diaz last. And at least once he knew to protect the critical area rather than rush out to pressure a ball carrier.
      .
      Both teams expended lots of energy in the first twenty to twenty five minutes. We were not timid. Marquez ran down a threat from Kamara once early that was key with a slide to clear the ball, the one that bounced off the corner flag for a corner kick.

      At th rate he’s going BC will be suspended for game six for yellow card accumulation.

      Creavalle was gassed, but there was no one to sub on for him, given that Alberg seems a non-factor and was already on the pitch up high.

      Saving the last sub for Pontius’s cramp seemed clairvoyant by Curtin.

      Pontius and Blake share man of the match, with Creavalle being mentioned in dispatches simply for lasting the full 95. 46+49. He had to have been exhausted by the time he began making all the giveaways late in the match.
      .
      Seemed to me Columbus was trying to attack our center backs more than our flanks. Perhaps they were not counting on Marquez’s return.
      .
      In the first twenty-five to thirty minutes we ran with them and matched their pressure with ours, then we began to fall back as out midfield was losing energy.
      .
      If at the beginning of the game you had heard that our central midfield spine would be Carroll, Creavalle, and Ilsinho, what outcome would you have predicted.

      • When I saw that starting XI (especially the midfield) I began preparing myself for a long game. Was happy to see marquez back, freaking out about nogueira, and wondering why Leo and Ilsinho hadn’t been dropped after the dallas game where i thought both had been poor. I left my house, bought an extra 6 pack just in case, and came back. I actually said 2-1 columbus before the game and after I saw the lineup on twitter.
        .
        Happy to say I was wrong. After last week when I thought Alberg looked much better than Ilsinho, this week was quite the opposite. Loving that Curtin seems to have a better handle on substitutes this year, as in he uses all of them and not too late in the game for them to matter.

  11. So I have thrown a lot of shade at the Union for playing undisciplined, and not being able to keep their shape….However, tonight was the most organized I have seen the Union play since 2011. That being said, Brian Carroll has NO Place on this Team, and his gaffs tonight really put the team in disastrous situations. Andre Blake really came out huge again, and made clutch save after clutch save. The shame is how this team would look with healthy Nogs and Edu. I think the offensive build up and link up play would have been much smoother and effective with Nogs and Edu on the pitch, but regardless the Union played with improved organization and with a calmness we have not seen in a very long time. I am very happy with this performance, and hope to see even more improvement.

    • Mickey Goldmill says:

      Fair and balanced.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Fails to acknowledge the reduced effectiveness of Higuain, which, from my point of view, I attribute to BC’s game reading and wise experience. The argentine had two good chances but missed them. That’s not down to BC, I grant, but otherwise Higuain was nowhere near as special as Diaz was for Dallas last week.

      • Higuain was less effective (in my opinion) not because of BC, but how much the Union “front 3” either cut his supply line early with that high pressure, or were able to swarm to him much more effectively. I think Creavalle actually did more in cutting out channels to Higuain. Though Higuain was still able to play in some dangerous balls, I think BC and Creavalle did enough to help out their back 4. That being said, BC showed he cannot and shouldn’t go a full 90 min. In a perfect world, I would Pull Nogs for BC in like the 75min and have BC and Edu shoring up defences to grind out a result. Hopefully the Union have a packed house this Sunday. Lots of Empty seats at FC Dallas and Columbus for their Home Openers, and hopefully this is not the case at the Talen Energy Stadium.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Good points, Conks. When I saw the lineup with BC and Creavalle, I thought that they would both be sitting deep, but Curtin had BC sit just in front of the back four while Creavalle hunted the ball further up the pitch. It was a tactic that worked well defensively, but you’re right that BC gave the ball away a lot. The nice thing is that when Nogs and Edu are both fit, this type of partnership could work with Nogs sitting deeper where he likes to operate and Edu playing further up.

      This was overall a much improved performance from last week. When you look at the stats, the possession stat looks bad, but I felt like the Union (aside from BC) did a decent job of keeping the ball. There was a sequence from the 68th into the 69th min where the Union had the ball and aside from a Sauro interception which he promptly gave right back, it was effective possession. Both sequences were 8-9 passes each and it was playing the ball up one wing before cycling it back, switching fields methodically and playing it forward from the opposite flank. It’s the type of possession that you rarely see from a Union side nursing a 1-0 lead on the road. And I don’t think that it was a coincidence that Pontius’s 2nd came a few min later. That type of ball possession can really take the legs out of a team which is trying to find an equalizer, but then has to waste so much energy chasing the ball. Let’s hope that we see more of that type of brave soccer rather than retreating into a shell and hopelessly booting the ball away

      Peter Andrews – That cutback from Pontius in the 14th min went to Fernandez, not Ilsinho.

      • I completely agree. I couldn’t really believe what I was seeing, just as you described on Saturday. They were cycling the ball with confidence and switching fields…..I literally was left dumbstruck hahaha! Yes with Nogs and Edu, with the team playing like they did, but maybe with a bit more pace it would be beautiful, and will run teams ragged. I am still out on Curtin being able to elevate this club to new heights, but for now I will keep my torches and pitchforks away and breathe a slight sigh of relief that Sunday is looking better and better.

  12. Can we fuse Nogs’s ankles or get him a titanium replacement. Poor guy. I think it’s also those cutbacks.

  13. Thanks to Chris Portis for his goals. Can’t beat a gal a game average. BUT, Blake is MOTM. Without him, this was a loss by a couple, since he built a wall in that goal and kept the U in there. Well done, boys.

  14. Ed Farnsworth here. This comment has been removed for exceeding the boundaries of good taste. If you continue to post such comments, Phillyboy, you will be blocked.

    • Mickey Goldmill says:

      The degradation of the human spirit is at times stunning and totally disconcerting to me… how it shows itself at times – in so many different ways, a darkness…. like– in this instance.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      What an awful thing to write about another human being. He just played subpar the last two matches and had another bad day at the office. It happens, but life goes on.

    • The sun rocket is a one-seater and it is not for BC.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Thanks, Ed. I saw that comment before it was deleted and agree it was completely inappropriate.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Not having seen the comment, I’m assuming its author did not recognize the good that BC brings to a game alongside his clear, well-known, highly predictable, sometimes frustrating limitations. He is not a complete, two way #6, but as long as speed and range are not massive considerations he’s a decent defender there.

  15. Was I the only one who thought the Union looked pretty lousy tonight? Rare offensive ideas, losing the ball in midfield over and over again, lousy game from BC. I will say that the back line looked pretty solid, and Blake, of course, is a monster. Also, Seba really charged things offensively when he came in (despite him missing that golden chance). But on balance I think we were extremely lucky to get 3 points in that match — we barely deserved 1.

    And I’m not being a Negadelphian — we did have our 3 best field players out injured. Hopefully 2 of them return soon. And Earnie better be working on another CDM, because we’re gonna need one.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I didn’t think they were lousy, but I also didn’t think they were the second coming of the 1970 Brazil team like some here seemed to think.
      .
      I thought the most exceptional part of their game was how the defense got in the passing lanes and intercepted numerous passes. That being said, the worst part of the game was how they would give those intercepted passes right back.
      .
      I also thought there were some issue with guys standing around out of position. I remember one play where Columbus had several open players in the box because the Union had 3 players near the far post standing around (maybe marking each other). This was in the run of play and not on a set piece.
      .
      It was nice (and necessary) that they were able to get the second goal which is something they struggled with in the past.
      .
      Good to get 3 points in a place they’d never won before, but don’t forget that happened last year in New Jersey but didn’t really help in the long run.
      .
      Now they have to follow it up with 3 points next week at home so they can be on 6 going into the international break.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        For me there was a correlation been giveaways-after-interceptions-by-Creavalle that corresponded directly to his rising level of physical exhaustion. I give him full marks for driving himself to continue long past the point of being fork-ready, falling-off-the-bone done.

    • I absolutely agree, but won’t lose the win in my post-game points. They should be happy to beat a quality opponent, and can now work with a bit of confidence on the lack of possession, the easy turnovers, the fact that I think that Brian Carroll already has two yellows and will need some protection, Le2’s heavy touch,… That is for the film room, and I do agree that each of those issues could cause problems down the road, but this rare feeling of a road win against quality…priceless.

    • Maybe you spent the day watching European football? 😉 Neither team looked lousy. That was a decent MLS match: pacy, with good goalkeeping, but a little short on tactics and technique. PHL much improved over last week, CLB not nearly as impressive an opponent as DAL last week.

    • I’ll sure take it but the win is due to Blake and luck. His saves tell only part of the story; his command of the box, play off the line, and his communication were as impressive. Still the Crew were unlucky on a few open looks and Pontius made both his shots. Luck does change after all. Carroll proved again he should not start. Where has Creavalle been?
      They could get away with this at home against the Revs. But even with the return of Baretta and Nogs, CDM and LB remain glaring weaknesses.

    • 3/5 of expected starting midfield injured makes me sing Floyd’s Fearless, “the hill’s too steep to climb”
      .
      “Climb it!”
      .
      I imagine the aesthetic was not too good…

    • I’ll take the 3, but it was Blake and luck. His saves tell only part of a remarkable display of controlling the box, coming off his line, and frustrating their attack. But they had a few open looks that barely missed while Pontius hit both his. Carroll proved again he should not start, while Creavalle made a convincing contrary case. This team can win uts home opener, yet it has holes at CDM & LB that must be filled regardless of Baretta & Nogs.

    • Agree with scottso, we stole this one. 60%+ of all soccer goals at every level come from giveaways in your own defensive end and fabs and bc did it all night.
      Also good teams that emphasize possession (like the u say they want to) give their teammates moving through midfield w the ball at least 2 easy layoff targets. Union midfield looked like they were dribbling down dead end alleys all night with little help.
      Happy for the win,but lots of work to do.

      • A possession tactic certainly requires rehearsed movement and prescience…. to say possession but have no vision in how to actually move the chess pieces will reveal itself rather quickly.
        .
        to be true…it is not wins or loses for which I am paying even remote attention to this season, while winning is indeed tastier, it is the managers ability to instill a club style of play beyond the remarks of mid week interview and post game recap.
        .
        This is the true difficulty in not having our fullest complement of starting players… I guess we will see.

    • I finally just got a chance to watch the game. I am ecstatic we got the 3 points, but I agree we were pretty lousy. Highlights were Blake and a TRUE finisher in Pontius! Finally!

      Don’t forget both goals came from assists from the other team. We were pretty bad, but have a great goalie and someone who is clutch in Pontius up front.

      Marquez makes us much improved in the back. Tribett did a good job as well.

      Fabi needs to be replaced ASAP.(try Gaddis til you get someone better)

      Rosenberry may be our best right back, but I don’t believe he should be a starter in this league yet. He is decent with some potential. He was burnt like toast with a cut to the inside that should have been a goal for Columbus. This same thing happened twice last week with Dallas. He cheats too much to the goal line one on one and gives too much room for the cut to the inside and shot. Maybe he is too slow and that is why he cheats so much. Or maybe he just needs to make the correction and have the foot race to the goal line and win it. He has been lucky that none of the shots ended up in the back of the net.

      Sapong doesn’t add much up top. I would be interested in having Herbers start to see what he can do. I’m just waiting(hoping) for ES to get us a good striker.

      I think I will enjoy watching our team actually PLAY futbol once we get Nogs, Alberg, Barnetta and Pontius in there at the same time(with Ilsinho in the mix to start as well). That could be a great MLS midfield, especially if Edu can get his Mojo back when he returns.

  16. Wow is Blake good, we finally have a star at a position, and one that can steal games for us. what a difference having Marquez makes, Tribbett was much more confident with Marquez next to him. Creavalle showed me something I didn’t know he had, I’d be much more confident having him in there now. Sapong continues his hard work with doing a lot of the little things, he and pontius work well together. Speaking of Pontius, wow what a difference it makes having a scorer on the wing AND having an actual second person getting into the box area, even with the Unions typical crap crosses. Rosenberry looks like it’s his spot to lose. Le Toux comes in like a ball of energy, which is good and bad. He runs and covers and causes havoc, which is great, but he also seems to lose a little bit more touch and control.
    .
    Tough to talk about the ‘bad’ when you beat an excellent conference rival on the road, but there were plenty. This team is playing almost exactly like previous Curtin teams. No imagination or composure, no movement off the ball. Really there are just a few individual performances that help the team, but don’t kid ourself, the Union did not play well tonight. The three biggest culprits are Carroll, Fabinho and Curtin. I will credit Curtin with adjusting his subs so far and not waiting forever like last year.
    .
    All in all excellent win and huge 3 points coming home, but there are a lot of changes that need to be made.

    • Mickey Goldmill says:

      Sounds about right… this is the fair and balanced criticism I was expecting…
      .
      I didn’t watch but commented above it was a patch work team missing several key pieces… hard to imagine or expect there would be aesthetic.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      I think you describe the last hour accurately, Great One, but think there were more elements of positive in the first twenty than you credit, including the recognition by the side that their approach need to change as their offensive DCM was running out of energy.
      .
      Either meeting Columbus head on at the beginning and slugging with them toe to toe until both teams got tired was the game plan, or there was a good in game adjustment made by somebody, whether it was Curtin on the bench or Carroll on the field I don’t have any way to know.

      • I generally enjoy your “step back and review”, more positive perspective. I’m genuinely curious, do you believe playing BC is in the best interest of the team at the moment?

  17. The Little Fish says:

    Great win. Thrilling finish. I’m happy as a clam! Pontus was very effective. Blake is a stud. Marquez should never EVER sit when healthy. But overall great effort from the boys. Only thing that suprised me was Nogs being hurt and Alborg still riding the pine. Alborg looks to me like the logical replacement for Nogs….or Barnetta….or even Fernandes. Did he piss off JC? Or what?

    • Mickey Goldmill says:

      Well you do know the coach has his favorites and not so favorites as we’ve seen from the beginning.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Or, possibly, Alberg came down with an illness while in Ohio.
        .
        That theory is far-fetched but does explain why, when Alberg came on, he played as a high-lying striker [the place you hide your poorest player if you nonetheless have to play him] rather than as an ACM *and* had no energy while doing so [not typical of all previous appearances by him].

  18. A lot of nits can be picked and continuing frustrations vented, yet I believe it is not possible to say that Union did not deserve to win this match. I did not see any far superior performance by Columbus so that one might suggest “we escapted with the win”. Chances both ways and we took more of ours – clinically by Pontius (especially the second one). Both sides could play better and its early in the season. 3 points coming out of Columbus is one more than I hoped for at this point in the schedule. Main impression was the alertness and the fight – the other stuff might not always be there but these aspects need to be a constant. Good work on the road.

  19. Lucky Striker says:

    Andre……and 6 inches. The difference measured between a first ever W in Ohio and a tie or loss.

    Columbus let the Union (shockingly) control tempo for almost the entire match-and then when realizing the hour was late finally put on Cedric the Entertainer and turned it up……should never be able to get away with that-but it’s Philly so they almost did !

    Fabinho has to know where he is when sticking out a hand defending !

    A few years ago, I took a bit of stick for telling anybody who would listen how good the Union draft that produced Blake and Pedro was……..yeah……..

    Andre is special kids. Enjoy him while you have him. If he doesn’t get hurt, he can single-handedly save you points. When Garber sells him out from under you for pennies on the dollar, and hands Sugarman a schilling back……..try not to be as bitter as I am over all the time wasted leaving him languish on a bench, while Ribeiro toils at the bottom of a Citrus Bowl.

    • the end game response by Columbus was to be expected – weathering it is something new for Union. One could look at a number of performances that were subpar or aspects of a particular player’s game that were subpar – perhaps a culture change or revision of expectations is in order, as it is a choice to look at all the issues in neither a positive or negative light and build on them.

  20. As good as Blake was, it was also very nice to have Marquez back; he was outstanding. Although their coach denied it, I suspect Columbus thought they could sleepwalk their way to a win. Ilsinho has a long way to go before he’s match fit. Rosenberry looked like he belonged on the field, Fernandes did not. CJ fell down too often, too easily. Curtin earned a little credit yesterday, and I hope he doesn’t need to spend it down too soon. See you all next week!

    • Lucky Striker says:

      Leo doesn’t look like he belongs because they continue to force him to play out of position. He is not a wing, nor fast enough to press at any level. He was a factor early, getting a quality shot in the center of the box off a nice feed from Pontius.

      I thought they brought him back to caddy Barnetta. Instead, they pass him over to shove an out of shape newcomer in as the next Chaco +.

      You want to press? Play actual wingers, not shoehorning this kid or Seba into something they clearly aren’t.

    • I would assume Leo is out there because Alberg is not fit yet. I agree that Ilsinho is not that impressive, physically or otherwise. I am not as hung up on positions as on quality – Leo needs to take his chance, however it is presented.

      • At this point, I’m wondering about a lot of players and their fitness. Ilsinho certainly doesn’t look good to play a full 90 yet, Alberg as you mentioned hasn’t gotten more than 30 minutes yet and doesn’t look all that fit, Creavalle was dying by the end of that game. Then you have the injuries. These things happen, but it feels like we’re missing enough players to be in the middle of august, not march.

      • I disagree about Ilsinho. He doesn’t look fit, but he is clearly capable of controlling and possessing the ball in tight spots unlike anyone else on the team.

      • 100%. I think his ability to buy time on the dribble and penetrate space and draw a second defender is a real asset and something we see the world over but seldom at this level and in this league.
        .
        Is he Pele? No.
        .
        Does he bring a certain skill set? For sure.
        .
        Players like him get hacked and the more he penetrates with the dribble the more fouls he is going to draw… .
        .
        Giovinco does it as well- though he is slight and spry and agile and fast enough to sometimes avoid the scythe…. evidence suggests MLS is decidedly NOT about dribbling… and anybody on the ball is a breath of fresh air for me… pouchy belly sagging shirt – less than fleet feet, sucking wind 5 minutes into the game even…

      • maybe, but for what I saw last night he gave it away as much as any other player out there. Pontius 2nd goal was after he lost it when he tried to cut back to his right rather than take the open shot inside the D with his left.

      • That cut back, if it worked, would have left him in a perfect position 1 on 1 to shoot at goal with his right foot after he drew both defenders to his left. He didn’t have a shot with his left.

    • I agree on Fernandes. It doesn’t seem he’s best suited for a hig pressing type of style. His pace and attitude need adjustment to match Sapong and Ilsinho. You definitely see a difference when Seba’s in.

      Also wanted to comment on the defensive aspect of the U’s wing play. Both outbacks are getting exposed consistently beause neither Pontius nor Fernandes are helping them enough.

      The book is out on Rosenberry, he’s taken out of the play quite easily with a simple fake to the left and a cut to the right. Has happened several times in his two games, so it is something he needs to work on. Still better than Gaddis IMO.

  21. Oriel Park says:

    Carroll clearly has no confidence. Not once can I recall him receiving a ball and actually connecting positively up the field. Add his lack of pace and that just spells trouble. Creavelle was all over the place and disruptive. Also he at least looked to pose a threat going forward. Once Nogs, barnetta or Alberg are healthy creavelle has to be above Carroll on the depth chart.

    So what made the difference for the back 4??? Marquez? Creavelle? Game 2? A far less dynamic attack? I think the answer is all of the above.

    The attack will come but need our horses back from the IR. Seba will be a real threat coming off the bench on the flank or up top to creat havoc. Is Leo really that slow? Nice footwork and some vision but just very slow.

    Bring on the Revs. Up the U!!!

    • Credit where credit is due: Carroll made two excellent diagonal forward passes in the air that landed right at the feet of the target wing. Doesn’t make up for being awful the rest of the game though. More than anything it makes me question where those passes have been the rest of his time here.

      • a stopped clock is right 2x a day.
        he spent the rest of the game missing passes and giving the ball away in his defensive end.

  22. When it came time for subs it was nice to know the bench offered some good options. Despite the injuries, it felt like each player on the bench could deliver if called upon. Last year our subs felt like a role of the dice every time they stood at midfield.

  23. Well thanks for the write up and comments… I was not able to watch and spaced out on the DVR set up…
    That said.. 3 points if fantastic! If Columbus thought this would be 3 easy points… Shame on ya! Good to know the U can steal points from a team playing a bad game. That points to good things. Watched the highlight video… Man is Blake good! And thank you Mr.Pontius!

  24. Roger That says:

    Having Blake in the back gave me the confidence to keep watching and trust that the U would not fold in the end like last year’s model. Fabs’ will drive you batty with high risk defensive challenges but got away with it last night. Kudos also to Sapong for putting in his usual hardworking shift and to Pontius for being in good spots and finishing when the opportunity presented itself. Marquez is solid, solid, solid.

  25. Some random comments and observations…
    .
    Andre Blake is a stud! nuff said…
    .
    Ilsinho is getting some grief up thread, and some of it is deserved. But… he’s one of the few players I saw who consistently moved without the ball and consistently moved after making a pass. The latter especially is something that drives me crazy, because it’s so easy to do. He needs to get in shape; but he seems to have a similar creative spark to what Maidana had. He’s a really good find by Earnie.
    .
    Le Toux has to do better with that chance. I don’t even mind that he held up and waited instead of chipping or slotting to his left. But once he decides to wait he has to do more than just putting the ball hard into Clark’s chest. Take a touch and try to go around him, man!
    .
    Once Columbus scored, I was convinced they were going to get the equalizer. And while if you told me before the match we’d get a draw I would’ve been happy, with the way it played out a draw would’ve been horrendous. Glad my “glass half empty” view didn’t come to fruition.
    .
    Those uniforms for Columbus were coyote ugly. Wow.
    .
    Peter Pappas seemed a little bit better to me. Maybe it’s because the season is still young and he hasn’t worn on my nerves yet.
    .
    Rosenberry looked better this week than against Dallas. I saw a big throw in the Dallas game – though it wasn’t used on offense (it was just getting the ball down field), so I wasn’t too surprised to see it become a tool on offense this week. Good job by the kid; his game seemed to take a step forward. Hopefully that continues.
    .
    I know Curtin had a short bench because of the late injury to Noguiera. But why can’t Alberg get a start? Doesn’t make much sense to me. Brian Carroll was much better this week than last week. But I still would’ve preferred seeing Creavelle-Alberg instead of Carroll-Creavalle. With Edu out until at least June, they need to figure something out, because Brian Carroll cannot be your starter every game.
    .
    given the same starting lineup, I’d like to see Leo and Ilsinho switch spots – through flow of game if not through starting positions. That said, putting Ilsinho to the right would make Rosenberry’s job harder. But Leo looks way more comfortable when he’s in the middle. Hopefully Barnetta is available Saturday. And Noguiera. I want Curtin to have to make tough choices over who starts.
    .
    Loving the win! Nice to wake up in 4th place, well ahead of the Pink Cows!

    • Be nice to keep Andre for about four years while he improves and comes into his own… I don’t see him being a career player here that’s for sure.
      .
      I’ve argued all along that as much as it would suck – – I’d support a club gladly that developed young talent through the pipeline…over and over again whiting their star rise, only to see them off to bigger and better things– so in keeping with that I need to be intellectually honest.
      .
      Seeing him go would be a bummer though… someday… just not real soon please.
      .
      In the end I feel we are all going to be Gollums about Andre Blake and his departure…. “my precious”
      .
      .
      When he was training at YSC I was standing above him and called him, “Superman!” after a save… he turned and grinned at me… I was happy.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Just give us a few years with Blake, and perhaps, an MLS Cup?!?! Let’s not have him sold to Europe just yet… although if he keeps it up it will be inevitable. He was damn good again last night

  26. I’m willing to give the guys who did not play in MLS last year a few more games to get used to the league. I do agree that Leo seems like he should play more central, he’s just not effecting the game on the wing, Le Toux was all over the place when he came in which was a stark contrast.
    .
    Tribbett played much better this game but I saw him about 4 steps deeper than the offsides line which allowed a couple of dangerous chances. Marquez is a huge benefit to the backline. Nice to have a few decent options back there as I believe Anderson and Tribbett should grow all year.
    .
    Creavalle made the case to be our #6. The man is a midfielder for sure. Would love to see him paired with Nogs next game.
    .
    Sapong does a lot of hard running and holding up but still needs to get more involved, although Ilshino should have finished that one. And Sapong looked pretty good out on the wing too. He’s definitely a presence out there when he’s a round the ball.
    .
    Pontius being lethal around the goal is a beautiful sight. Need him to help carry the load while the new players adjust and people get healthy. His runs are so much better than Wenger’s were last year.
    .
    Do I even have to say anything about Blake. The Philly goalie jokes are officially dead.
    .
    I think the team is really missing Barnetta as the Captain as he’s the only guy we have had really yell at the refs since I want to say Califf. I bet we pick up about 5 more foul calls with him out there getting in the refs ear. Trapp and Tchani were getting away with more than we were I though. And unless I missed something in the replay, Fabi’s yellow card was a joke.

  27. Sure is nice to see Wenger doing well. As of right now, they love him in Houston. Right wing suites him very well.

  28. DomesticCat610 says:

    Late to the party. Hey, nice win! I want to thank Columbus for staying so dogmatic to their principles…….you helped us put a great deal! Thank you for slowing the play down for the two holding mids, thank you for narrowing the pitch and bringing everything inside and making Our interior not really have to leave 30 yards of space. I’m sensing some arrogance on the Crew’s part here. Huge difference having Marquez back there and Pontius has knack for occupying space where the ball is going to come…….it’s about time somebody ran in behind a header won by CJ!

  29. Just commenting by this monday afternoon, “cause I’m still hysterically giddy from the win. I rarely comment negatively even though I’m a born & raised Philly fan, I AM NOT a BOO-Bird, so don’t expect ANY negatives. Just enjoying a few positives from the game… We stepped out into the lead, then put the game ‘almost’ away with a second goal, both of which were scored by an off-season acquisition, who scored from different areas and situations. Defensively a well played game with some mistakes made but not fatal ones. Our keeper CONTINUES to show us his youthful talent, with a ‘SPECTACULAR PERFORMANCE’ (better get attaboys from the league for that show, WELL DONE BLAKE!!) I have to give the Coach credit for the (injury depleted)line up & his substitutions that ended up closing the game with 3 points, NOT 1 point due to a collapsed lost lead…(something we are all well aware of) All of these are reasons to be excited for 2016. UNION-UNION-UNION-UNION!!!!

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