Player ratings

Analysis & player ratings: Columbus Crew 1-2 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union’s game against Columbus Crew on Saturday needs proper context. The Union were on the road against one of the best teams in the east and they were missing all three players expected to start in the midfield this season. All three.

And they won.

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Defensive organization

There weren’t gaps in the Union back line against Dallas so much as there were runways. That changed on Saturday, with the entire back four staying tight and compressing space in the midfield when the ball was kicked back out. A constant problem in 2015 was that the defense would drop in an organized manner to the top of the box as the opponent drove into the Union half. But when Philly would disrupt the offense and force it to start over, the back four would lag behind the rest of the team as they pushed up to pressure the opposing back line. The second wave of attack, then, found far more space than the first.

That was rarely an issue last night, as Richie Marquez’s season debut coincided with a massive organizational uptick. Marquez was barking from the opening whistle, and he kept Ken Tribbett’s feet moving while doing a far better job than Anderson monitoring the space behind Fabinho. The former third round pick has a Swiss Army knife’s worth of physical tools, but the most important contribution he made on Saturday was simply being a commanding vocal presence. Look at the video below to see how Tribbett hears Marquez call out Kamara, sees the danger, and repositions inside of the striker, forcing Higuain’s throughball to go through the outside channel instead of up the gut. 

For all of Andre Blake’s heroics in goal, he still needs to be a more vocal organizer (Zac MacMath struggled with the same issue at times, as well). Philly has not had a vocal leader in back since Jeff Parke left, and Marquez showed what a difference it makes. Kei Kamara could not find space running off of either center back, and the channels between fullback and central defense were much more narrow than six days earlier.

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Keeping the defense close to each other and close to the midfield was a massive boost to the foundation of the Union’s organizational efforts. And it’s worth asking if the side-to-side compactness of the back four acted as a signal to the wingers that they needed to retreat and cover space defensively. Both wingers, but Chris Pontius in particular, put in much improved defensive efforts. Harrison Afful caused Portland all manner of issues up the right in Week One, but he was largely controlled by the Union, forced into long shots and kept from reaching the endline.

On the other side, Leo Fernandes was less aware of Wayon Francis, but he came back far enough to make Wil Trapp’s life difficult when Columbus wanted to recycle play to the opposite side of the pitch. Philly got a huge boost from Hector Jimenez, whose indecisive positioning meant he was never in a good place to run at the box or pull a central midfielder off of Federico Higuain.

Justin Meram’s introduction late in the match coincided with the Crew’s push for a point because Meram is a more direct runner and forced the back line to make decisions about stepping up or dropping that finally disrupted Philly’s solid organization.

The sequence in the top video above seems almost impossible after last week’s effort in Dallas. First, Pontius tracks Afful deep, but takes a zone that allows him to switch and press Finlay if the winger pulls off into the gap Afful leaves behind. Finlay doesn’t react quickly enough to take the space, and Fabinho — with Marquez drifting over to make sure Kamara won’t be able to receive a deep pass — steps to close down.

Eventually, Sauro looks to play Higuain, who underhits a pass wide that Rosenberry intercepts. But note that even if Sauro had cut it back for Trapp, Ilsinho resisted the urge to cheat upfield and would have been able to step back and prevent Finlay from receiving the ball in space on the right. Philly consistently forced the Crew to take their second or third best option, and when a team doesn’t expect to have to do that it quickly becomes frustrating.

Also notable and extremely different from a week ago, the Union midfield trio is within ten yards of each other for the majority of that play. Ilsinho is far deeper than he was a week ago, and Carroll and Creavalle are not in a flat line next to each other. The Union have often allowed their attacking midfielder to press high, which essentially makes him a second striker defensively. Columbus is probably the best team in the league at creating vertical depth with their three midfielders because Wil Trapp moves the ball so efficiently that either he or a fullback can find Federico Higuain or Tony Tchani 20-25 yards away, with the other member of midfield opening up horizontally so that the opposition midfield is unlocked with two long, precisely planned passes.

To combat this, a defense needs to maintain that close-knit triangle in midfield so Higuain doesn’t have enough time to switch play and so that, as in this instance, it is Sauro or a fullback playing the ball into Higuain rather than Trapp. By ignoring Trapp (who makes the wrong decision by stepping forward instead of deeper as a short option), Sauro allows Creavalle to cheat deeper and threaten Higuain.

Every time Trapp touches the ball, even though he is unlikely to attempt a low percentage pass or dribble through a defense, it makes the Crew tougher to defend because it means a player has to step to the ball and leave more space in deeper areas. What makes Trapp stand out compared to a raft of other young American holding midfielders is how he puts himself in places that don’t directly threaten a defense, but do directly threaten individual defenders’ certainty about what they should be doing. He’s like the chess piece that doesn’t move much on the board, but that forces you to keep two pieces in suboptimal positions just in case he becomes involved.

Rosenberry's passing has range. But passes straight up the line are noticeably less effective.

Rosenberry’s passing has range. But passes straight up the line are noticeably less effective.

Right side gets it right

Against Dallas, the inexperienced right side of the Union defense took their first ride on a roller coaster and let’s just say the post-ride photos may have shown some traumatized faces. Saturday’s second go around was much better in part because Jimenez was off his game (a game which doesn’t approach Fabian Castillo’s to begin with), in other part because Philly made fewer giveaways in their own half, and in final part because Ken Tribbett played a much simpler game.

But what might be overlooked in Tribbett’s improved performance and Keegan Rosenberry’s vastly improved positioning is how the latter’s technical ability allowed the Union to overcome Vincent Nogueira’s late injury absence. Against Dallas, Nogueira came short to work off of Rosenberry, the one member of the back line who is truly comfortable under pressure. The problem was the Union midfield gets so stretched on offense that Nogueira had nowhere to go with the ball, and if he lost it, Rosenberry was more stranded than 76ers fans looking for a good basketball game.

Without Nogueira, though, Rosenberry was still able to connect passes because he’s that good on the ball. Skipping a player and shifting play to the middle of the pitch, or simply resetting play over 20-30 yards, Rosenberry allowed the Union to get out of tight corners on the wing in a way they haven’t been able to do in years. Also notable is that the rookie’s incomplete passes were almost entirely straight balls up the line, something Curtin said was an issue for the team last season.

The Tao of Warren

I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I will never fully understand Warren Creavalle. Everybody has played pickup soccer with the guy that is just flat out quicker and more athletic than everybody else on the field, yet can only seem to dribble directly up the line then make what is, incredibly consistently, the strangest decision possible. At the endline? Time to shoot! In on goal alone? Better blast it! 

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Creavalle is like that player, but only sometimes, and defensively. He has elite acceleration and is a better tackler than Michael Lahoud. But it can seem like using that acceleration comes at the cost of turning off other parts of his game, like balance or awareness. At one point in the 21st minute, Creavalle stepped up to force Sauro into his second option out wide, then he quickly closed space and cut out a pass from Francis to Higuain. In doing so, however, he managed to intercept the ball, then instantly leave it behind for Higuain recover and cross. It was wonderful defending until, quite unexpectedly, it wasn’t.

An even better example — possibly the perfect example — came on one of Columbus’ best early chances. Creavalle flew out to close down Afful and block a cross from the endline. The ball shot up and landed just outside of the box, where Wil Trapp collected it with Ilsinho very clearly shadowing him. Afful comes back for a short pass near the touchline, and Creavalle — in a moment that was eminently flabbergasting and absurd to view live — appears from nowhere, zooms past Afful like the roadrunner whipping past Wile E. Coyote, and is promptly removed from the play by a simple pass that allows Afful to get to the endline and pop in a short cross that Ethan Finlay absolutely should have put on frame from close in. Yes, the entire sequences required Fabinho to overcommit to Afful as well, but man… there are not enough zen koans in the world to explain what Creavalle was thinking there.

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Absurdity aside, though, Creavalle was a very good fit against the Crew, who were a step slower than usual switching fields and creating space. His closing speed put pressure on Higuain and Tchani, but more importantly it allowed the Union to successfully pull off a three-quarter field press. Columbus is heavily committed to building out of the back, and Creavalle helped Philly counter the Crew’s spacing by picking up the free man when Ilsinho followed Trapp. This could be Michael Parkhurst, who burned Philly with his passing last season, or Tony Tchani, depending on the situation.

The Tao of Brian

Creavalle’s game helped highlight both the positives and negatives of Brian Carroll. First, Creavalle’s speed meant that he could be a bit out of position when Carroll stepped to the ball and still recover to keep Columbus from breaking with numbers. Second, Creavalle’s commitment to the high press showed what a fine line Carroll walks these days between solid defending and breakaway city.

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In the 4th minute, Creavalle joined the high press of Pontius and Fabinho to close Columbus down deep in their own half. It was a risky move since both members of the Union left side were already committed high along with Ilsinho. The Crew were forced to play long, but Carroll didn’t recognize the danger left by Creavalle’s pressure, which meant that an entire flank was exposed. Marquez moved central to cover a flick as Kamara and Tribbett challenged in the air. Carroll also heads to the middle, which means Higuain can advance all the way up the right unimpeded. This is especially dangerous because it pulls Marquez back to the wing and leaves Tribbett in a foot race with one of the only MLS strikers that can consistently beat him in the air and in a sprint.

This was an outlier on the day, but it points to how Carroll simply does not have the speed to make even little mistakes. Executing a high press is not just about being able to run for 90 minutes, it’s also about being able to close down opponents quickly — on a sprint — over and over again. Carroll doesn’t have the legs to do that, but when he gets his angles right, he acts as a wonderful filter that keeps big chances from developing. In other words, Brian Carroll remains a fine emergency starter because he can slow a game down and ensure that the opposition has to be in good form to win. But note how that still means the Union are reliant on the opposition to be off their game (as Columbus clearly was) in order to win. Running BC out for another 3-4 months remains an incredibly risky decision for a club that will have a small margin of error each week.

The How of Leo

Or more specifically, how are the Union trying to use Leo Fernandes right now? Fernandes can be a dangerous player in an offensive set, where he has a knack for popping up just outside of the busy areas and creating chances from nothing. But even with improved possession numbers, Philly spends very little time in the opponent’s final third (and they will spend even less without Nogueira to act as a central point through which to build attacks). Fernandes, then, ends up as a lost man on offense: completing the occasional pass into space, sometimes moving off the line for a short connection. He doesn’t have the speed or the awareness to create much space for himself on the wing, so he ends up as operating without much purpose.

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On Saturday, Fernandes’ only incomplete passes were long bombs. However, he did exactly nothing in the offensive third outside of a 14th minute shot on frame. Counterattacks move too swiftly for him and Philly doesn’t spend enough time building extended possessions to maximize his skillset. So, again, how are the Union trying to use Fernandes?

This question was asked quite strikingly on the Union’s second goal, when Sebastien Le Toux — on for Fernandes — helped create the scoring chance by zooming past Sapong to snag a loose ball that he played into Ilsinho’s feet (a stand-up-and-clap-it’s-so-delightful pass from the Frenchman, who mixed in a few classic brick-footed touches into his performance). Le Toux’s run is the exact kind that Fernandes doesn’t make, which is why CJ Sapong is able to connect more passes and find more support when he is collecting long passes on the left side of the pitch compared to the right. On the right, Sapong often has both Rosenberry and Fernandes in the same area with nobody making the centerback worry about stepping so high to follow the Union striker.

This highlights a bigger problem for Fernandes. The young winger struggles to stay a step ahead of the game, often turning on or off depending on whether he is around the ball. This sounds like a harsh criticism to level, but it is extremely common (and not just with players adjusting to MLS after success at lower levels). Fernandes can improve, so take this as an area of weakness rather than a fatal flaw.

A 10th minute passage of play highlights this issue. Fernandes does well to collect the ball under pressure and find Brian Carroll. BC moves the ball wide to Fabinho, who makes an inaccurate, soft pass toward Pontius that Afful intercepts. Clearly, this is an unforced error on Fabinho’s part. But more importantly, Fernandes has drifted off up the pitch after playing his pass despite the fact that both Ilsinho and Creavalle are behind him, leaving the left side of the pitch with no central support. Recognizing this situation and offering an option to Fabinho or Pontius is essential, because then it pulls Tchani away from Carroll and allows Fabinho a simpler option. This seems like a little thing, but it’s not. It’s about being aware of the full scope of what is going on in the game, and understanding how the placement of teammates affects your role at any given moment.

Can we call you Firebird?

The Columbus announcers accidentally called Chris Pontius “Pontiac” during Saturday’s broadcast. A nickname that could be taken as a classic car brand or as a reference to playing like a maniac? That’s a good nickname.

But Pontius deserves particular attention because he both worked hard on defense and made the late runs that so often turn into nothing but, sometimes, turn into brilliant first-time finishes. Both on Rosenberry’s long throw and on Le Toux’s long pass that set up the second goal, Pontius took slim odds that the ball would bounce just right for him. And both times it did.

That’s the essence of being a winger in the Union’s system right now. Without a playmaker in the middle of the park, wingers have to be willing to both track back for long periods of time and join counterattacks even when the numbers don’t necessarily seem in their favor. That’s how underdogs win games, and Pontius won Philly a huge three points on the road Saturday.

Player ratings

Andre Blake – 8

No better shot stopper in MLS right now. And Blake has looked extremely good in the air as well.

Keegan Rosenberry – 7

On one early passage of play, Rosenberry was slow to close down a cross. Minutes later, he had another chance and charged out with authority. It was a great look at how intelligently the rookie plays the game. Also, how about that left-footed cross to Pontius?

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Ken Tribbett – 6

Tribbett was solid against a good opponent. He is going to be keyed on by teams that are better at high pressure than Columbus, and he needs to be ready for that. Long balls need to go to the corners because teams are pressing Philly’s wingers and leaving space out wide. Sapong can run with anyone, so if Tribbett is going to settle for length, he needs to start honing his radar on wider areas.

Union CB passing - long passes are more effective into corners because teams press Philly's wingers.

Union CB passing – long passes are more effective into corners because teams press Philly’s wingers.

Richie Marquez – 8

Marquez probably played a 7, but his communication and leadership give him a boost. A wonderful return for a player that will have his problems with teams that high press, but also instills the Union back line with an energy that may not be replaceable.

Fabinho – 5

Still off the pace, but the individual errors were way down. If Fabi can start playing a bit faster, he will find a lot more freedom on the wing.

Brian Carroll – 6

That type of performance is what a 6 rating was made for. Carroll was a liability on the ball, often taking an extra touch or going long because he sensed pressure. But that’s what the Union are going to live with if they keep running him out there. Defensively, Carroll was positioned well to push the Crew to the wings.

Warren Creavalle – 6

I had my doubts, but Creavalle was an overall positive for a road game that required energy and pressure. Still, he’s like the soccer player version of a magic eye picture that I just can’t see. Is he a sailboat or a schooner??

Leo Fernandes – 4

The Union need a lot more from their wingers in terms of supporting Sapong on the road, because they will be forced to go long out of the back with Ilsinho the only real technician in midfield.

Chris Pontius – 8

How about that second goal. What a cool finish.

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Ilsinho – 6

Far better defensive positioning from the Brazilian, and he continues to create a handful of half-chances. It will be interesting to see if he can make a bigger mark on a home match when the Union should hope to have a bit more of the ball.

CJ Sapong – 6

Set up a very good chance for Ilsinho in the 23rd minute and was very effective tracking down long balls when they were played to corners. Another robust defensive performance from the striker, as he did a very good job forcing Columbus to play more through Sauro than Parkhurst.


Sebastien Le Toux – 6

When you sub on Le Toux, you want him to be involved in some counterattacks. He was, and his pass to start the move that ended in the winner was a beaut.

Roland Alberg – 6

A largely anonymous 15-minute cameo from the Dutchman, but he showed grit and hard work and went 6/6 passing with a key pass and two recoveries.

Fabian Herbers – n/a

Two appearances and no ratings for the rookie.

Geiger Counter – 5

Fair cards, and not a lot of big decisions to make.


  1. Zizouisgod says:

    That 29th min clip of Creavalle overpursuing and not recognizing either where Afful or his own teammates were was pretty incredible.

  2. Warren Creavalle reminds me a bit of Jeremiah trotter…especially in the clip above.
    Pure athleticism made Trotter a beast but he great weakness was over pursuit…at least 2x a game leaving him and the rest of his defense totally exposed.
    Warren reminds me of The Hatchett…that said… how am I supposed to argue for Brian Carroll either? I still think Crevealle brings enough of a balance of yin and yang energy to be the choice over Carroll…
    Tough call to make especially for being unable to watch live and make a thorough assessment…
    A question regarding Lee. In the highest expression of this team’s organization and philosophy …don’t the wingers tuck in just as much centrally with the backs high and wide and if cycling possession in the final third where breathtaking speed to get behind the defense is not a requirement..does Leo fit better?
    Is the ‘problem’ of Leo a problem of not having enough possession closer to the other team’s goal?

    • Mickey Goldmill says:

      Funny… how do I know it’s a Monday and I’m groggy for being awake 3 nights in a row… my commentary regarding Leo merely restates what the author already wrote.
      …favorite part of Monday is sitting staring at the lady talking to me through a speaker at McDonalds and asking what she means when I’m to chose between apple juice or chocolate milk. Could you repeat the question please.
      Sorry Adam.

    • Gotta play Creavalle, Carroll isn’t offering enough beyond “knowing where to be”, which is important, but so is actually being able to run.

  3. Rosenberry is the real deal. No questions about that pick anymore.

    • pragmatist says:

      Agreed. I think you’ll see Ray as the backup to both wing fullbacks. He doesn’t play the game the way that ES and JC are asking. He’s nice off the bench, and to give Fabinho and KR a night off, but they have those spots locked down (until we can find a more consistent LB somewhere).

    • Jim Presti says:

      Agreed. No debate for me

  4. That Vision of the pitch followed by that cross pass from Rosenberry to Pontius was a thing of pure beauty! I agree it is hard to gauge what we have with Creavalle. I need to see him with Nogs and not BC to see how much better he is in this “philosophy” as Mickey points out. BC has been a good soldier for the Union, but Time waits for No Man. Hopefully Nogs gets healthy and whenever Edu gets back it will really be nice to see what we actually have has far as mid-field cohesion. Looking forward to Sunday!

    • I was only able to see limited parts of the match, but to me the question remains” Creavalle or BC?
      Again with limited viewing i think even with this small sample space you have to give creavalle the nod this week.
      Is there an update on Nogs? Is he projected to play this weekend?

    • Mickey Goldmill says:

      Time the Avenger.

    • Well, Nogs wanders to provide options for his teammates when the Union have to ball so Creavalle would have adjust by not chasing so much when the ball is turned over. He would have to sit until Nogs can return to his defensive position then Creavalle could go all ball hawk.

  5. T of the U says:

    “A schooner is a sailboat!…stupidhead”

  6. Maybe people will be back next week but I’m betting our ol’ buddy Cliff is getting pretty lonely right now!

  7. My main criticism of the Union in that game was that Pontius needs some kind of goal celebration. Anything at all. All he did was run to the corner flag with his arms raised up a little. At least pretend you’re an airplane or something! Then he did the same dumb thing after the second goal! (My wife told me I’m too critical of the Union bc I complained about Pontius’ lack of a celebration.)

  8. For only the second game in the new system (especially after the terrible showing in the first), without all three penciled in starters in the midfield (as Adam pointed out), getting three points on the road was massive. Have to mightily applaud the effort of Blake and Pontius.
    I loved seeing the high press and what seems to be the start of the Union style of play. Can you imagine that? Knowing what to expect your team will do from match to match. Keep it coming.
    Count down to the opener is on. #DOOP

  9. Old Soccer Coach says:

    The use of the clips to illustrate the points being explained is outstanding instructional technique, Adam. Can you hear Marquez yelling, or you just read it from the way Tribbett reacts?
    If the organizational leadership continues, it Will be a significant step forward for him, as last year the leader was not he. This, it must be.

    • I agree. I always enjoy the breakdowns, but this was particularly well done. Good stuff as usual.

    • I thought the same thing, PSP up their already incredible analysis.

    • Got me thinking halfway through, “this is the best analysis piece ever”. Visual aids are always better for sports. Think of how successful ESPN is compared to radio. It’s allllll in the clips.

      • I wouldn’t say ESPN does anything to educate. It’s more like eye candy for sugar addicts. A lot of fluff. No substance.

  10. pragmatist says:

    I was watching this game with my wife, and in the middle of the second half she asked who was #12. Then who was #18. Then #25. At that point, it became crystal clear to me: she follows the team fairly well and didn’t know hardly anyone on the field.
    I was strongly encouraged by that. This is not the Same Ol’ Union. Change can be great sometimes, and it appears that we erased a ton of our past and have replaced it with a solid future.
    There were issues with this game, but not enough to overlook the positives. There was definite progress. I can’t wait to see how they perform at home (although the weather may skew reality a bit this weekend).

    • “I was watching this game with my wife” another humblebragger I see, I suppose you actually have regular relations with her as well, tell us all about it
      seriously, tell us

      • Zizouisgod says:

        FWIW – I watched my match late on Sat PM after my wife had long gone to bed. The Saison Du Buff that accompanied me didn’t have any insights on the match as well as declined to join me in celebrating either one of Pontiac’s goals.

      • pragmatist says:

        I claimed the remote first. She patiently waited for the game to end before we switched back over to Fixer Upper.

      • My wife will watch Tottenham and USWNT, but tends not to watch the Union. Part if it may be the Tottenham is in the AM and she likes the USWNT.

        Actually the Women (wife and daughter) will watch Spurs/USWNT. My daughter complains about Jill Ellis’s tactics (at 9), so maybe she just would be frustrated watching the Union.

        My son will watch the Union with me, but only because of #DOOP.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        My wife will watch the Union and both MNT and WNT but will read a book when I watch Spurs.

      • The wifey will watch the Spurs with me, but will read when the Union are on. Quality of MLS is not good enough for her.

      • Is the Union/Spurs combo common?

      • Another Union/Spurs fan here, so maybe? When I became a Spurs fan 10-11 years ago I laughed once I realized I selected the most Philly of all English teams – a history and identity that’s important to the game, always competitive, prone to heartache and disappointment! Stupid Leicester, can’t we have anything nice!

      • Section 114 (Formerly) says:

        Osager clearly isn’t married if he thinks that is a humblebrag and not a desperate cry for help….

  11. Going into the preseason, who did any of us think was the player whose health would be most critical to this team’s success this year? Edu? Barnetta? Nogueira? Blake? Sapong?
    Would any of us have said, “Marquez?” And yet . . .

    • I think I would have said Blake. Hind sight being 20/20, who knows. But I’d still say Blake. It’s his saves that keep us from harping on other players about their play.

      • might have said Sapong, just because we’re light on strikers, regardless of quality. Only one body really backing him up right now.

      • Pontius, LeToux, and Alberg could all spot start if Herbers and Sapong went down. Still picking Blake.

  12. Mickey Goldmill says:

    So I give the manager a hard time and now in intellectual honesty… after waiting as long as a stubborn five year old I now nod and congratulate the manager on a solid game plan with limited resources.
    Could be the 3 most important points of the season…. Et tu Brute?

    • You and my Vizsla puppy are probably litter mates ;-p

    • I’m not sure Curtin had a great plan here. I saw some pretty good individual play. The defense held together and Pontius made the most of his chances. It was enough to win, but not sure big Jim had much to do with it.

      • Hard to throw too much shade Curtin’s way when he loses one of his key pieces Friday, adjusts on the fly, and the team still manages 3 points on the road against what has been predicted as a top 3 team in the east. And still without Edu and Barnetta. Last year we lose this game 4-0 if something like that happens. Is this partially an improved squad? No doubt. But the coach has to put those players where they can succeed. And he did. And they did.

      • A old cat catches a young mouse once in a while

      • I read the beginning of Adam’s recap to credit defensive shape and better linking to the midfield as keys to the win. Granted I didn’t see as much of it myself, I’m inclined to give Jimbo props for instituting this discipline, particularly with a makeshift lineup. Now if he could start his best talent – not “the guys who earned it that week,” and make better in game adjustments and substitutes, I’d give him a decent chance at becoming a successful manager in MLS 2.0. If Creavalle is still getting fit, start him anyway and either sub late with BC or try to cover for heavy legs.

  13. Anyone else have to contact their doctor this AM to set up an appointment for neck pain? I’ve got whiplash from reading some of the reversals around here.
    I couldn’t get one last week because he was swamped with sprained ankles…
    (All in fun gang, it’s good week)

    • I agree, lots of positivity. Can’t overstate how big a win this was. It’s a win the Union don’t get in other years. However, there are still some big concerns. The injuries aren’t helping things, but I still remain unimpressed by Jim Curtin.

    • pragmatist says:

      I can help out…we had some nasty turnovers that should have been converted by players of CLB’s caliber. The result was better than we deserved.
      But at his point in the season, we’ll take it.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      HA… me included. I was one in need of a neck adjustment. I think we all just need to learn how to win, and maybe, GOD WILLING, one day EXPECT to win a game. Instead of being literally shocked when it happens 🙂
      But hey, I look at it like having some neck pain from whiplash is WAY BETTER than the usual clinical depression.

  14. So can I call this an unexpected ugly win? A positive I take from this, is that this is wholly un-Union-like. I don’t think I could have imagined this happening last year. Certainly not.
    I must say, watching B.C. scares me. A lot. I don’t think Curtain can afford to throw him out there every game while Edu is injured. But I’m afraid that’s what we will get. Please Jim, experiment a little in the midfield.
    If Blake isn’t the best keeper in MLS already, he soon will be. He must provide a lot of confidence to the back line. I’m curious about Adam’s observation that he needs to talk more. It seemed to me that at every stoppage he was yelling at someone to do something. Maybe I’m missing something, but I believe he’s stepped up his game in this area.
    It’s nice to see the first win under their belts happen before the weather warms. Keep it up boys. You may just make the playoffs yet.

  15. Does anyone have an idea what fabinho is blackmailing Curtin with to stay in the lineup?

    • pragmatist says:

      He’s using the argument: “You don’t have anyone better than me on your roster.”
      And he’s right.

    • Didn’t you see that SBI had Fabinho as the top Left Back in the league this weekend?

      • Parts Unknown says:

        I thought Fabinho had an excellent game this week. Not sure where the rating or all the criticism comes from.
        Last week he had turnovers lead to goals. OK, but he was also the only defender actually bringing the ball out of the back and not just punting it up the field. In fact he was one of the only players besides Blake who did anything in the Dallas game …

  16. Did I read correctly that Andrew Wenger has 2 goals and 2 assists in 2 games so far?!?!?

    • Roger That says:

      Sadly, was never gonna happen here. Apparently he just needs to play in a place where no one cares. Good on ‘im.

      • Roger that.

      • Wenger put at least one shot on frame each of his first 8 starts in Philly. He was generally effective – and at times downright dangerous – during the stretch run in 2014.

        That is to say, before expectations hit he looked to be quite the player.

      • I wonder if the expectations are what does him in. Low Expectations in Philly, solid game. Low Expectations in Houston, solid game.

  17. A few thoughts. First of all, adam continues to bring the excellence in analysis. Very well done. One thing I read that I questioned a bit: Afful was much more contained that against portland last week, I agree, but the first 30 minutes or so (right up to the chance you have video of) he looked poised run amok on us as well. What did we change? Or was this purely just settling in?
    Second, who else has impressed in the east so far? I know its very early, but outside of montreal I’m not sold on a single team being far and away better than the rest. Should I start being hopeful? Is this real? I’m walking slowly away from the cliff.

    • pragmatist says:

      You always need 4-6 weeks to really figure out the personality of the season. Give it a few more games and then we’ll have a better idea of which teams are serious.

  18. I understand why you didn’t give Herbers a rating but I must say he had a few nice tackles in the closing minutes that disrupted any last chance efforts from Columbus. The final 5 minutes of that game were agony!

  19. Fernandes is an absolute passenger. You can couch it in terms of the system doesn’t fit him all you want, he is simply not MLS caliber. We knew that when we shipped him to NY. He wouldn’t play on any MLS team that expects to make the playoffs so we shouldn’t settle for him. As much as Le Toux has his flaws, when he came on we had a player on that side of the pitch.

    So, I don’t have to look it up, but did Okugo find a team? If not, why he is not an option to fill the gap left by Edu’s injury? Just saying.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Okugo has priced himself out of the league as a backup. I don’t know the roster rules well enough without rereading them carefully to know how he voids his current contract and its salary.
      They did not bring Alberg over to be a bench player, but he’s not yet ready to start. He may end up in the mix on the flanks if Ilsinho works into shape in the center.
      If Barnetta makes it back, he could play on the flank as well.
      Fernandes probably got the start as a second chance. Once Ilsinho/Alberg/Barnetta shakes out as to who is where doing what, Fernandes will be in the second tier.

  20. Alberg should be starting with Ilsinho and Pontius. Put the best players on the field. Leo is dead weight right now.

    The Okugo ship has sailed.

    I still think Curtin is on the hot seat and I am not confident in his tactical acumen. Plus, his player loyalty is going to get him into trouble agin this season.

  21. So had to watch the game on DVR since couldn’t catch it live. Glad they won, but I can’t agree with a lot of people here who say they played well. To me stand out players who played well were Blake Marquez and Pontius. Everyone else eh. Le Toux and Alberg were good off the bench, but need to start. Ilsinho is to slow on the ball dude needs to step it up kills the flow of the offense to much. Crevalle and Carroll were turnover machines and if Columbus was on point this game would’ve been 5-2 them. Rosenberry in 2 games has been beaten to the inside of the field about 9 times now (5 by Castillo, 4 by Columbus)(just awful) don’t understand how this happens as a defender and how he is still starting. No clue how Blake hasn’t ripped Rosenberry a new one for letting people seemingly walk up to the penalty spot and have at it. Leo looks like dead weight can’t possibly start 3 weeks in a row when he does nothing on field can he? Oh wait he can cause Curtin has no idea how to put out a team that is the best 11. Also how do you not sub Pontius after his second goal when he reached for his toes, it was clear that was when he started cramping and should’ve came off. You leave him on 5 more minutes and Sapong is playing midfield and there is no one to hold up play. This is just bad managing. Yes happy they won, but I saw a lot of poor play, luck, and bad managing in this game.

    • +1

      I give curtain a last summer good bye.

    • +1
      Exactly my thoughts.
      Only addition I have is:
      -Even though Blake is great with most saves in the league, I don’t want him to have to make so many saves. It means your defense stinks.
      Even though Gaddis lacks offensive ability, he is head and shoulders above both fullbacks and should start over one of them. I believe a good defender is much more valuable than an average to below average defender that can add to the offense. If ES doesn’t agree, then fix it, but make sure the new guy can play D first.

  22. very true. A small thing. Pressing the ball should be zonal, to prevent long ball breakouts, especially with immobile players like Carroll. Still a lot of baisic mistakes. See the 29 min clip with the Union midfielder try to slide tackle to intercept. That is an absolute no-no Since the ensuing breakaway should have been a clear scoring opportunity by Columbus. Also shows a lack of coherent understanding by coach or players or both.

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