Player ratings

Analysis & player ratings: Union 1-1 San Jose Earthquakes

Photo: Daniel Studio

For about seventy minutes, it was all clicking. Philadelphia Union were leading thanks to a new signing (nice) who scored off a set piece (nice!) from an outstanding designated player (nice!!) thanks to a pick from a draft pick (nice!!!). The pick was probably illegal, but if you find a corner kick without a foul, I’ve got a haystack that needs de-needling.

All of the good moves Philadelphia Union have made since the doldrums of last summer came together on Saturday’s goal. And it was representative of how the first seventy minutes of the match developed: The Union were superior because they pressed as a unit, and because they had balance in midfield, and because they could pass out of the back, and because they were confident on the ball.

Wondolowski (8) and Innoncent rarely found good positions for the first 75 minutes of the match.

Wondolowski (8) and Innocent rarely found good positions for the first 75 minutes of the match.

None of these things were true for long — multiple game-type long — stretches of 2015. And the speed with which they have arrived in 2016 is incredibly impressive. But the Union are far from the finished product, and they showed it in the final fifteen minutes against a San Jose side that should have been nowhere near the points.

Since it likely inspired the most intense and vivid emotions, let’s start with those final minutes, but in doing so let’s not forget that the Union have over twice as many points as they did at this point a year ago (and they still haven’t lost at home after going 1-2-1 to start last year).

There were a number of facets to Philly’s incremental, wheezy collapse. But the big three may be the center backs dropping too deep, the midfield running out of gas, and a team-wide unwillingness to accept their own dominance and retain possession.

Get back to where you once belonged (in a high line, that is)

I will take Joshua Yaro and Richie Marquez against any central defensive pairing in MLS for athleticism. It’s not even close. And a big advantage of a fast back line is that they can play high up the field and feel safe, even when they play behind a front five that pass very aggressively and can get caught upfield. For much of Saturday’s match, the Union back four stayed high and made it difficult for Chris Wondolowski and Innocent to find any space in dangerous areas.

But one of the reasons it has never made much sense to carry Wondolowski as a bench striker on the US Men’s National Team is that one of his best attributes is how he learns during a game. Describing his job as a striker, Wondolowski wrote, “A major part of my job is to lie (sorry, Mom). I have to use deception to manipulate two, sometimes three, defenders guarding me. It’s a 90-minute game of chess. If I know we don’t have the ball in a threatening spot, I’ll often sacrifice my positioning for a little while so I can soften up the defenders for later.”

The entire piece is worth a read, but the point is that it suggests Wondo knew exactly what he was doing when he started acting like he was going to go over the top over and over during the final fifteen minutes of the match. Specifically, Wondolowski looked to go long whenever San Jose had the ball in wide areas, even when the Union had good pressure on the ball.

It made no sense in and of itself, but the short-handed Quakes needed space in midfield and they started to find it when Yaro and Marquez found themselves far deeper than they needed to be. Wondolowski dragged Philly’s young defenders back, allowing Simon Dawkins, Alberto Quintero, and even Shea Salinas to attack space between the midfield and defense. These runs pulled the rug from under the home side.

Tired legs

It is important to note that those runs were being made behind a drained midfield. Philly continued to attack quickly and relentlessly after going up a man, searching for an insurance goal. More than once they nearly got it, but more than once they showed cracks in their defensive structure as Nogueira, Barnetta and Creavalle were each caught high in turn.

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On the outside, Sebastien Le Toux demonstrated his fascinating ability to lose mental focus long before he loses his superhuman physical skills. The Frenchman continued running long after he stopped thinking about where he was running and why.

Trust your dominance

In truth, Barnetta had the same issue. Both players were unwilling to give up the fight, but their effort kept taking them out of position and opening gaps for the Quakes. The Union simply needed to hold the ball and move it with speed from side to side until gaps in San Jose’s flimsy structure opened up.

When Philly switched the ball across the back, they were able to penetrate the visitors with relative ease. Joshua Yaro looked like a stud pinging balls through two lines of defense, Keegan Rosenberry continually made good decisions with the ball, and even Ray Gaddis felt comfortable enough to take on defenders and move the ball into the final third.

But in chasing that second goal, Philly got their priorities backward. Doubling the lead is great insurance, but the best insurance is the ball. Not only does having it keep the other team from scoring, it also — used well — saps their energy and tears apart their organization.

Yaro’s bad moment

I said three, but unfortunately there was a fourth prominent reason the Union gave up the tying goal that must be addressed. Joshua Yaro, after a thoroughly professional performance, sought to make up for a muffed clearance and swung through a needless tackle at the top of the box. Yaro and Marquez had Dawkins contained but the rookie’s aggression blocked off Marquez and allowed San Jose’s Jamaican midfielder a clean look at goal. It was a poor play by Yaro, and the young man’s reaction mirrored that of the 16,000 fans in attendance.

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But just because his mistake was the one punished doesn’t change the fact that many others were made as the Union struggled to close out a weakened opponent.

The rest of Yaro’s evening was overwhelmingly positive. He continues to get too close to strikers when he doesn’t have support in the open field, and he was slow to step forward at times when Rosenberry got tight to his man wide, but the rest of the rookie’s game looks cleaner each week. In the video below, Rosenberry gets tight to his man but Yaro remains deep, allowing San Jose to occupy a free pocket of space and almost generate a penalty. Either the entire line needs to hold or the whole line must step higher together.

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On Saturday, Yaro showed a great ability to balance confidence on the ball when he had time with simplicity under pressure. Around the box, Yaro opted to clear quickly in the box, but further up the pitch he played slick, patient, and beautiful soccer. The passing chart hardly tells the full story: Yaro played fast and accurate passes of varying depth that punished San Jose for playing tight on Rosenberry and leaving a lane through the midfield (Rosenberry himself showed off a similarly impressive range).

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Big night for Barnetta

A player deserving of even more praise is Tranquillo Barnetta. The Swiss man, wearing the captain’s armband, showcased a wide variety of twists, turns, and intelligent runs to unlock the Quakes’ spacious 4-4-2. As the extra man in midfield, Barnetta could move between the lines without being tracked. However, he could also drop into the middle third and create space for Vincent Nogueira, who found far more time than a week ago.

If Barnetta can stay anywhere near that level of play during the dog days of summer, it will be fascinating to watch him shake off the rust. More than once, a better feel for his teammates’ tendencies would have turned good-looking breakouts into deadly counters.

It will also be interesting to see how Barnetta and Ilsinho develop together. The latter seemed out of sorts on the wing with his Swiss teammate dominating the ball in the center. Instead of taking pressure off the defense, Ilsinho’s dribbling took Philly out of their possession game, leading them into intriguing but high risk areas of the pitch.

Let’s not lose the light

A disappointing final score takes the luster off a performance in which the Union played very well in the defensive and middle thirds but failed to find a rhythm in the attacking zone. There are plenty of positives to take out of Saturday’s match along with the obvious negatives that will dominate in memory. There are also some very interesting questions going forward.

First, how will this team fit Maurice Edu back into the lineup when healthy? It is becoming quite clear that Philly’s midfield has the most balance when Barnetta and Nogueira are given freedom by a solid holding player who stays central most of the match. Warren Creavalle mixes in the occasional forward run — as he should — but generally is at his best holding the center and moving the ball quickly.

Edu could fill this role extremely effectively… if he wants to. The big question will be whether Edu can see dribbling as a last resort, and lean more heavily on his passing range. Creavalle’s ability to dribble away from defenders comes in handy in tight spaces, but it should only be employed when necessary. In the past, Edu has enjoyed having the ball at his feet and driving the team forward. That will not be his role in the current setup.

Second, how can CJ Sapong take the next step? Sapong has exhibited a broad range of skills this season, but the selfishness typical of a No. 9 has not been one of them. In the video below, Sapong does wonderfully well to turn his man and he can run at the Quakes back line. Instead, he plays Le Toux wide and hits the center for a headed chance. This is not a bad decision so much as it is not the best decision.

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Sapong is fast, strong, and running at a retreating defense. He needs to understand what he represents to that defense in the moment and make the most of it. This means taking the ball forward to collapse pressure on himself then poking the ball through to a teammate. Essentially, it means taking more responsibility in the offense.

Sapong’s incredible recent growth has been largely driven by outstanding selfless play: Defensive workrate, knocking down long balls, hustling to the right spots. The next step is to accept his fate as a central part of the Union’s offense.

Sapong would have been a strong addition to the USMNT Copa squad this summer because of his selfless play. Against stronger teams, the US will need strikers willing to work nonstop for ninety minutes to set the first line of defense. But if there is something keeping Sapong on the fringes, it is that he rarely looks to take on defenders himself.

There is a very fine line between being selfish and being an intelligent striker, and most big names trend toward the selfish side. Sapong goes the other way. To get onto a bigger stage he will likely need to ask himself a difficult question: What exactly is it that Dom Dwyer does that he, Sapong, does not? Driving at defenders with the ball is that thing. And Sapong certainly can do it if he wants to.

Player ratings

Andre Blake – 6

Hard to blame that goal on Blake. He put himself in an awkward position in the 51st minute and could have been called for a very soft penalty when Alberto Quintero dragged his feet over Blake in the box. Otherwise, the Union goalie continued his strong form.

Keegan Rosenberry – 6

The ability to pick out passes down the line or curl a long pass into the channel is such a boost for the Union. Additionally, does anybody know what Rosenberry’s vertical leap numbers are? Because dude can jump.

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Joshua Yaro – 4

So many impressive facets to Yaro’s game, but one rash moment puts them all in the background. Additionally, Yaro remains slow to step in support of Rosenberry and tends to get drawn into the middle following a striker when he should communicate and hand him off.

Richie Marquez – 5

A solid performance that was almost undone in the 61st minute when he gifted Wondolowski a free look at the top of the box.

Ray Gaddis – 6

An unerringly Gaddisesque performance. The left back would make a good move on the dribble then leave a pass short, or follow a player well, then recover slowly. Gaddis tends to turn on and off as a game goes on, and getting to 100 percent concentration would make him an even bigger defensive asset than he already is.

Warren Creavalle – 5

A solid day in the center for Creavalle, though his late missed tackle on Dawkins will haunt. His comfort on the ball probably makes him a slightly better option than Carroll for home games, but Carroll’s positioning in front of the back four is superior.

Vincent Nogueira – 6

In the first half, it looked as though Nogueira was ready to take over as puppetmaster for the entire match, but his influence faded as his legs tired. This should be a lesson for the Union in how to stretch their pressing out over ninety minutes. Sometimes you have to hold the ball for a while or sit in your shape to recover. Not even the Dortmunds and Leverkusens of the world can counterpress effectively for ninety minutes all season (though Roger Schmidt certainly tried).

Tranquillo Barnetta – 7

An astounding first half tainted only by the lack of a final ball. Barnetta found it on a set piece, but could not quite make it work in the open field. Performances like this will always be welcome, though. It was beautiful to see Barnetta read when to turn upfield, and to see the San Jose back four drop in fear whenever he shook off his man and ran at them.

Chris Pontius – 7

Great defensive workrate and another solid finish. That’s 100 percent what he’s there to do.

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Sebastien Le Toux – 7

Another good showing on the wing for Le Toux, who certainly makes it difficult for teams to overload Keegan Rosenberry. However, the Frenchman can get caught in no man’s land defensively and this forces Rosenberry to step up the pitch and away from his support, leaving gaps that opposing teams have looked to exploit. This is an issue that must be worked out between Le Toux, Rosenberry, and either Yaro or Ken Tribbett.

CJ Sapong – 6

Nine times out of ten, Sapong puts the Union two goals ahead with the chances he had.

Substitutes

Ilsinho – 5

Nothing was inherently wrong with Ilsinho’s performance. In fact, it was exactly what you might have expected from him. But it was a bad fit for the Union’s shape and the current pace of the game. Instead of switching play quickly, Ilsinho slowed things down and allowed San Jose to rest as he looked to take people on and connect vertical passes.

Leo Fernandes – 3

Look, the Union are stacked at the attacking midfield position right now. Barnetta, Ilsinho, Roland Alberg, and Fernandes can all play the role, and Nogueira can step in if all else fails. So Fernandes needs to step his game up if he wants to keep collecting late game minutes. He should have been the hub of a quick possession game, dragging the defense around so it couldn’t get close to Nogueira or Creavalle. Instead, his touch was off and he struggled to get involved.

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Fabian Herbers – 6

I need Fabian Herbers to score or gather an assist soon so we can take some time to look at the kid’s movement. It’s phenomenal. And though it’s not as thoughtful and nuanced as one might like, he’s doing it in incredibly short bursts in an unfamiliar league. There’s just so much to like about what Herbers is bringing to the table so far.

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Geiger counter – 3

The Anibal Godoy red card was unavoidable. Dude got a caution for the second elbow he threw and the red card foul was clearly cynical. But how in the world was Fatai Alashe still in this match after making the exact same tackle that got Warren Creavalle and Roland Alberg sent off in previous weeks? Oh MLS reffing: Never change (jk, change very soon, please).

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62 Comments

  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Good point on Alashe, although if the Union had been up two men there’s no telling how much they would have slacked off…
    .
    Ratings are pretty fair for the team that was the better team on the pitch for most of the game.

  2. Leo has been… interesting this year. Last year he was doing excellent work with the Cosmos, playing the majority of their minutes. Does he need that amount of time to get settled into a game? Does he need to not be a late game sub? Do we just need to keep believing he’ll find the chemistry here?
    .
    Personally, I think he would do better as a starter than a sub. But he’s shown us little so far this year (save a brief appearance against the 10 man revs). I think we need to leave him with Steel for an extended period to just eat up some minutes. Find his groove.

    • Cliff of Union Despair says:

      Leo is this year’s Zach Pfeffer

      • Mother of GOD! He is! Well, then I’d like to book a spot on the cliff for moments when he gets subbed on for the rest of the year.

      • been thinking the same. Bethlehem hasn’t been a difference either

    • Maybe thats what he is. A soccer equivalent of a AAAA player in baseball.

      He’s had a ton of time to atleast show SOMETHING. Hes shown nothing.

      Why he was brough in inside of alberg is baffling.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      I agree 100% about Leo. I was pretty high on him this season and things are not translating and people think it’s a lack of quality and I don’t think it is. He either needs to learn how to do what is needed and grow into the game quickly or as u say, find more minutes in a lower league. It’s a bummer cause Leo is a quality player… just not adapting to this role it seems which speaks to his quality as a player. An Ouroboros.

      • Adam Cann says:

        Leo is a big question mark. He certainly hasn’t done enough yet, but I completely agree that he hasn’t done enough wrong to warrant giving up on him.

    • He’s been playing pretty consistently for Steel so far this year already. I’m not giving up on the guy, but I think he’s much better playing in the middle than out wide and both Barnetta and Alberg are better there.

      • Have we played Alberg out wide yet? Feels like something maybe we should try. Barnetta is definitely a converted winger, but hes been effective. Keep him central until we find an alternate solution. Nobody else has had too much success yet.
        .
        Certainly not giving up on Leo yet. Just hoping that instead of tossing him in late in games as a sub who will be ultimately ineffective, we can let steel get 90 minutes out of him and maybe grow into the role we want him in.

      • Agree with Leo, haven’t see Alberg out wide. I like him as the primary backup to the #8 and #10 personally. I would actually like Ilsinho to be starting out wide and bring Le Toux in later, I thought that was working pretty well earlier (i know injuries have forced the change).
        .
        This team is still learning how to be a team I think. With all the injuries so far players just haven’t been able to playing with everyone enough yet or get to full fitness. We were still down 4 anticipated starters yesterday (LB, CB, DCM, RW).

      • I would love to see Barnetta, Alberg, and Ilsinho (all healthy first) in the 3 attacking midfield spots for at least 30mins.
        .
        I imagine the interchange in the final third would be *NSFW*.

      • Broseidon says:

        I would like to see Ilsinho benched. he is just another Maidana who is tricky and fun to watch at times but utterly useless and a real burden on the team.

        Alberg in the middle and Barnetta on the left with Pontius staying where he is would be a stellar midfield line.

        p.s. i would like to see Barnetta keep the captains armband even when Edu comes back.

      • You have to make yourself indispensable in a position. for Cosmos Leo was an indispensable CAM…for Union, he has never been given a significant understanding of his role and opportunity to make himself indispensable in any position… and this goes back further than just this season.
        .
        He has quickness. He has technique. He has vision.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        I’m pretty sure that he played as an outside midfielder last year for the Cosmos. Raul typically played off a front striker with Moffat and Szetela in central midfield, Leo on the right and Restrepo on the left.

        This is not unlike where he is being asked to play with the Union. I’m sure that there are nuances and differences to how each of those teams play and how he fits in, but I would expect that he understands what he needs to do.

      • Leo played most often as a LM for the Cosmos.

      • Noted… and without argument… though my lens of Leo
        .
        … was more of a playmaker as he explains…
        .
        “Throughout the season I was more like a left winger, but I was able to drift into the middle,” Fernandes said Tuesday, then added with a chuckle, “Wherever Raul wasn’t, I had to be there.”

      • Fair enough. Everything is always more fluid then the static numbers we use.
        .
        And I am on board that his best position is centrally. I don’t think he is dynamic enough to play the wing at the MLS level.
        .
        In any case, this may be the make-or-break year for him with the Union.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Leo Fernandes has started at attacking center mid every time he has been available to the Steel, which, without double checking my records, has been every game but one.
        .
        The game in which the Steel attacking center mid was the most dynamic and consistently threatening was the one in which Leo was unavailable because travel to Seattle, when Eric Ayuk dominated the Richmond Kickers’ equally diminutive central midfielders

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Leo is neither quick or fast and his technical ability isn’t good enough to make up for those shortcomings.

      I know that people will say that I’m viewing him through too much of a typical “American” lens, but please keep in mind that MLS (and every other league around the world) are still athletic endeavors. If you can’t compete from a physical standpoint, you better bring something else to the table that will make you special and from my vantage point (and at a MLS level), he just doesn’t.

  3. I lost the light.

  4. Something to think about if you have mobile athletic central defenders and defensive midfielders. With possession, you can push the central defenders slightly wide if need be , pull back the 2 central midfielders to cover the middle( especially if the opponent is playing a variation of one striker), thus allowing the fullbacks to really push up field aggresively in order to force the defense into extremely difficult choices. It looks like the UNion is athletic enough to do this, but the ball must be held on to minimally, so that there are no turnovers in midfield. There are a few teams in Europe that are doing this already to some degree. would be fun to watch, and right now I see no one prepared for this in this league.

    • I think the Union ideally want to play a 3-6-1 or maybe even a 3-4-3 on attack, with the CBs pushing wide and the #6 dropping probably a touch in front of them. This role is perfect for Edu (if he plays as told).
      .
      They need to yell at Nogs every day to stop dropping so deep for this to work though.

      • Jim Presti says:

        Not sure its really Nogs as much as it is Yaro. The Union were playing this way for a few matches before Tribett was sidelined.

      • I’m actually ok with Nogs dropping deep.
        .
        This season there is a lot more creativity in Barnetta, Alberg, etc. so I don’t think Nogs really needs to get forward as much as last season to be successful. His passing can help build out of the back and hopefully will lead to less turnovers in bad positions in doing so.
        .
        Also, last season he scored a career high 5 goals (his best before that was 2) so you have to believe he is going to more or less regress to his career mean in that area. This is not a bad thing though because it could allow better finishers a chance to push forward.

      • I don’t think he needs to be getting in the box, but when he drops deep #6 is left in no mans land and must push up. It messes up our entire attacking shape. Now that we have CBs who can actually handle the ball we have no need for him to be back that far.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Yes yes yes.

      • My thought is toward everyone healthy and Edu at the #6.
        .
        The solution to the “Edu isn’t disciplined enough at the #6 to sit in front of the front four” issue could very well be to not ask him to do it. He could be useful a little higher up because of his ball winning ability.
        .
        I’m imagining Nogs dropping and helping to build out of the back, working the ball forward into the final third, a through ball or cross into the area cleared by the defense but won immediately by a slightly advanced Edu to maintain possession high up the field….
        .
        Dream or reality? Never know until it is tried.

    • Jim Presti says:

      They started doing something similar to this in the early part of the season but have since stopped since Yaro was inserted into the lineup. Pushing the CBs wide with the CDM dropping into the hole, allowing the fullbacks to push higher up the wing.

  5. Leo isn’t MLS quality full stop. Not technically or athletically. (Should have waited on the full stop).
    I rate Gaddis much lower on his performance. So many misplaced passes. I also rate Creavalle higher as well. Otherwise a fair assessment.

  6. CJ Sapong does not put 9 out of 10 of those chances away; more like 4 out of 10. That is why he has not been called up. 6 is too generous for him on Saturday. He should have won the game for us in the first half.

  7. Dr. Union says:

    My thought on this game is that I put this one on the coach. It was clear that at around 70 -75 minutes San Jose got the swing of momentum both WC and Nogs were getting beat for pace and positing. This is the perfect point to put in your game killer BC then the goal at 77 doesn’t happen. Also after the goal to still throw Leo on was not the right move he did nothing for the offense. Why take out Barnetta in who was having a pretty good game. This one is on Curtin’s inability to manage the game properly. It should’ve been three points poor movements by the coach. Even Alberg would’ve provided more defense and offense than Leo. Just so many blown subs and tactical changes late in this game.

    • Dr. Union says:

      *positioning

      • I’ve heard this take, or something similiar a lot since the game ended. I’m not entirely sure I agree.
        .
        Going in, I believed 2 things for certain. One, we would score. Two, San Jose would score. No question about it with the talent they field up top. So once the subs started coming on for both teams, we were in an interesting situation from my point of view. You can either double down on the belief they’d score anyway and go for number 2 or decide that you just might have the pieces to pull off the shutout. I can’t blame Curtin for feeling his young defense wasn’t going to hold. (That being said, a 10 man team going against BC wasn’t going to score, I’d have brought him in)

  8. philsoc8 says:

    The biggest problem with the Ilsinho sub (other than it should have been Alberg for Noguira or Barnetta), was that it was a huge mistake to put him on the left side, paired with Gaddes. Ray continues to be an excellent defender and willing hustler, but he has no idea how to maintain possession, connect with others or play in the offensive half of the field. He gave Ilsinho no options or good passes. Contrast how differntly Ilsinho looked when paired with Rosenberry.

    That said, Ilsinho looked slow and, dare I say, fat out there. If he’s not fit, I have no idea why you would him out there given that you have Alberg, Carroll, etc on the bench.

  9. Super compelling graphic from Kinkead’s recap.
    .
    Shows possession in 5min intervals. Union owned it for almost the entire game except from 75′ to 85′.
    .
    http://www.phillyvoice.com/union-1-san-jose-1-player-grades-and-reaction-draw-felt-loss/

    • Ilsinho entered in the 73rd minute, and the game quickly turned in favor of San Jose, leading to the Quakes’ equalizer. Clearly, this was the key substitution for the home squad, and not in a good way.
      .
      It’s hard to understand how Ilsinho could rate anything above a 2 or 3 for his performance in Saturday’s match.

      • I put it on Curtin. Illsinho looked fine and did what he always does. The problem is that is NOT what we needed at that moment.

      • I agree that it was a poor decision by the head coach, but it looks to me like Ilsinho has not bounced back from his injury a few weeks ago.

    • Adam Cann says:

      So this is not to impugn Kevin, who is one of my favorite voices on the Union, but those possession numbers are a bit misleading. There was a free kick that took from 80:30-81:00 to set up, and the goal was scored around 82:40 and play didn’t restart until about 84:50 because Alashe went down. Then the Union went directly down and earned a corner kick during which time Herbers was subbed on, so the corner wasn’t claimed by Bingham until 85:45ish.

      I don’t know how possession stats work during all those restarts, but I guess I’m just saying there isn’t a lot of “live ball” time in there to work with. It’s not like SJ was passing around Philly.

      All that said, it’s undeniable that they were the better side after the 75th. They drove up the Union right multiple times and Francis could’ve scored off a free look on a corner or off a long run where he beat Nogs and Rosenberry to the spot.

      • Good point. I guess I just jumped along with the numbers since that is what the eyes saw as well. The numbers may not be 100% accurate but they do reflect that rise in the Quakes play around that time.

  10. pragmatist says:

    I’m going to wait until the bounce-back game until reaching for the panic button. Let’s see if they learn from this.
    .
    Disappointing, but it happens to a lot of teams. Like SKC on Sunday.
    .
    Wait to see how they respond against a quality opponent, and then we can break out the daggers.
    .
    Remember, we were looking at this as a rebuilding year. These letdowns will happen from time to time. It’s all a matter of how they handle it.

    • In terms of karma, I guess we gave back the 2 points we stole from SJ last year.

      • The two points Conor Casey’s big bald head stole from SJ you mean. One of the few bright spots all year, I loved being able to cheer for him that game.

  11. The overall analysis in the article was great as always. Particularly about Yaro’s hand in the SJ goal. It actually made me feel a little better about the result. Kid made a rookie mistake. Fine — he’s a smart kid, he’ll learn. But the weakness down the middle was there for a while; Curtin still needs to work on when to go for the throat and when to rope-a-dope a little. I’m not hitting the panic button yet, but I’ve moved it to within arm’s reach.

  12. philpill says:

    Your insight as to how Wondo pushed our CBs deep to create space is terrific, and the kind of lapse that a young defense will make as it grows.

  13. Lucky Striker says:

    too many seem out of shape. Can’t ever factor for the team, nor can I give a reasonable take on their ability when that is the case.

  14. Please deduct points for players sporting a Man Bun.

  15. Nick Kurns says:

    Quakes fan here… I thoroughly enjoyed this analysis (along with the preview). Thank you for taking the time in the piece, and in what must have been extensive research, to explain San Jose the way they are and not by their reputation. I’ve seen every minute of every Quakes game the past five years, and I feel like a freshman that just accidentally wandered into a graduate class. Really appreciate your work.

    And – I agree with cszack4 – that Conor Casey brace was a dagger last year; kept us out of the playoffs.

    • philpill says:

      If the club had been run as well as PSP from the start, we’d have a display cabinet full of hardware.

    • Adam Cann says:

      @Nick – Thanks so much for reading, and for the comment. I will never tire of watching Dom Kinnear’s teams play soccer. He was my first interview and thoughtfully answered so many dumb questions.

    • Nick, you will find that while we may not have the best team in MLS, we almost surely have the best soccer blog in MLS. I’d be surprised if anything else comes close to Philly Soccer Page.

    • Best of Luck to you and the Quakes Nick against everyone but the U!!

    • Always cool to have outside voices on here with their own perspective. Adam usually holds class twice a week, and the only homework is to watch Union games (for the record, its been much easier this year)

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