Player ratings

Analysis and player ratings: Union 1-1 Montreal Impact

Photo: Earl Gardner

Coming off a midweek loss to Orlando City, Montreal made a notable number of changes to their starting eleven but, surprisingly, didn’t alter their basic shape or tactics. Philadelphia Union, with Alejandro Bedoya returning from a week with the US men’s national team, matched the visitors’ sluggish pace to produce a match full of ideas but lacking in precision and composure.

The goals

In a match where offensive movement was hard to come by, the goals were always likely to come out of nowhere. And, boy, did they ever.

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The Union’s tally took some brilliant work from a guy who isn’t one of the top ten playmakers in MLS (ahem), but it was also the culmination of a key half in the Union rookies’ young careers (more on that later). Moments before the goal, Joshua Yaro had found Keegan Rosenberry in a national park’s worth of space. Rosenberry completed the rookie connection to Herbers, and the Creighton product tapped a lame cross into Laurent Ciman’s feet. The ball popped back out, and Yaro took advantage of Armando Villareal’s ludicrous willingness to allow contact by bumping Nacho Piatti to the ground. Given another chance, Herbers took a shot in the back in order to lay the ball off to Tranquillo Barnetta, who did the rest.

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The rooks

The entire sequence leading up to the goal highlights how much the Union — and the Impact — asked of the rookie right side. Alejandro Bedoya is a wonderful steadying presence, but this is still three players straight out of college asked to contain one of the two most dynamic men in MLS this season. Add to that the way Montreal came out with a clear intent to contain Chris Pontius, and you have three rookies asked to stare down Piatti while simultaneously providing penetration into the Impact’s final third. The Union’s young trio generally did a good job, with the second guessing on display in the clip below more an anomaly of their play than a feature. 

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Herbers in particular deserves praise. His two goals and five assists are very close to the two and six that Khiry Shelton produced as a rookie a year ago, and he has done it while playing further from goal than Shelton did.

On Saturday, Herbers was tasked with both supporting Rosenberry defensively and providing a vertical orientation to the Union’s attack. Philly needed to pressure Montreal up the right in order to keep Ambroise Oyongo in check and make Laurent Ciman move from the center. Herbers delivered, though it’s important to look deeper at what he tried to do when he got into dangerous positions.

Jim Curtin has emphasized low, near post crosses all season. With CJ Sapong running into the box and mobile midfielders behind him, the Union look to play the ball behind a defense for tap ins or, at the very least, chaotic loose balls. Herbers consistently looked for that ball, as instructed. He didn’t always do it well, but he did the right thing. And that’s the mark of maturity that the Union coaches will likely take away from his performance.

And one more thing to remember: This is a player transitioning to a new position. In college he got on the end of crosses, now he has to play them. Philly leans very heavily on its wingers to both get into the box and provide defensive support, and that means there is an element of modern fullback in how they play. Knowing when to break forward and when to stay close to Rosenberry for support is something Herbers will continue to learn going forward. Saturday was far from perfect, but in a match where he was the primary route forward, Herbers’ was very good; consistent delivery will come with time.

Impact goal

There are few new takeaways from the visitors’ tying goal. It was yet another case of the Union looking disorganized and unprepared for a defensive set piece, with players quickly losing their marks once the ball was in play. In this case, Hernan Bernardello was wholly unmarked at the top of the box, and once the ball was played to him, man-marking turned to mayhem.

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Tranquillo Barnetta, Fabinho, and Ilsinho all immediately drop what they are doing and move toward Bernardello. Of the three, Barnetta seems the logical choice to step because he is the free man. Fabinho ends up in no-man’s-land, but he could conceivably step to Harry Shipp if Bernardello played the ball wide. Ilsinho is simply in space.

Additionally, Joshua Yaro leaves Mancosu and finds himself in the center of the box without a mark. Warren Creavalle steps off his post as if he’s going to push the opposition offsides, but when Bedoya stays on his man, Creavalle is, like Ilsinho and Yaro, marking space.

Overall, it was Mancosu who punished the Union, but it was the chaotic reaction that meant Montreal had numerous ways to convert once the ball entered the box. Philly has struggled all season with late game discipline, and this is just one more instance of that. It is also another moment to ask whether Chris Pontius, one of the team’s best aerial presences, should have remained in the match over the exhausted Barnetta and Bedoya.

The Union forced Camara to be Montreal's deep passer, and he could not connect.

The Union forced Camara to be Montreal’s deep passer, and he could not connect.

Montreal was clearly planning to keep Toia (right) deep to cover Pontius.

Montreal was clearly planning to keep Toia (right) deep to cover Pontius.

Montreal’s mission

Let’s go back a moment to Montreal’s game plan, because there was an early cat-and-mouse game that played out between Mauro Biello and Jim Curtin. Biello wanted to keep Chris Pontius from beating him and play the ball quickly through the Union’s midfield pressure. Philly wanted to create turnovers in Montreal’s half and, lacking that, make sure that it was Hasoun Camara and not Laurent Ciman who played the ball out of the back.

Interestingly, both sides executed well early on, with the Impact forcing Pontius to check inside to get involved and the Union aggressively attacking Ciman. Camara’s long passes created little without Drogba to receive them, and Montreal’s deep midfield trio kept Pontius from finding space when he left the wing. Whenever the Union’s winger returned to the touchline, Danny Toia was close by, abdicating forward runs to keep the home side’s leading scorer in check.

Deep, deep, deep midfield

On Wednesday (and against Toronto before that), Biello deployed Kyle Bekker as a hybrid No. 6/8 in midfield. It’s an innovative and intriguing move that makes a good deal of sense given Didier Drogba’s velcro touch. Long balls to Drogba triggered Bekker’s direct running, which pulled defensive lines apart. This created space at the top of the box for Piatti to weave his magic.

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Against the Union, Biello again went with a No. 8 type midfielder in a No. 10 role, though this time it was Patrice Bernier looking to run off of… Matteo Mancosu. Wait, what?

Montreal's midfielders rarely advanced during the first half.

Montreal’s midfielders rarely advanced during the first half.

Mancosu’s movement, as it was during a brief cameo last these teams met, was quite good. But Bernier either had no idea how to interpret his role or was simply content to act as a third holding midfielder. He completed two forward passes in the attacking half and attempted one incomplete cross.

Behind Bernier, Marco Donadel and Hernan Bernardello were also content to stay deep and let their side attack with only three (!) players. They combined for seven passes beyond the center circle; Harry Shipp had four by himself in 11 minutes after replacing Donadel.

In short, the Impact had few routes forward, and that was somewhat by design. Their main goals were to keep Chris Pontius and Tranquillo Barnetta from beating them, and it took the latter literally dribbling through their defensive net for Philly to score.

September soccer, lethargy be thy name

There is no denying that after the Impact threatened Philly early, both teams lapsed into a fairly sluggish contest. In the 15th minute, and again in the 25th minute, the Union’s offense looked like they were playing “red light, green light” and nobody knew who was supposed to say “green light.” It didn’t help that Alejandro Bedoya was clearly feeling the effects of a long week with the US national team and a crowded midfield meant it was difficult to bring Fabinho into attacks.

Add in Rosenberry’s conservative movement due to Piatti’s presence and it’s easy to see how tactics and tiredness combined to suck the life out of the match.

With this in mind, it’s extremely surprising that the Union only used two of their subs, and that they used one on Roland Alberg. That is no indictment of Alberg as a player, merely an acknowledgement of his strengths and weaknesses. Few would suggest that Alberg is the appropriate player to chase and harry and team when protecting a lead, nor does he have the size to be a game-changer on defensive set pieces. Finally, Alberg is not much of a threat to run in behind, meaning a defense can commit more bodies forward late.

Yet, he was the chosen sub, with Tranquillo Barnetta moved to the wing and CJ Sapong — who has struggled to impose himself as a vertical threat this season — retained up top. It will be interesting to see how Curtin explains these moves in his midweek press conference, because they seem odd given the scoreline, and even odder given Biello’s moves.

Assistant coach Mike Sorber happened to be speaking with the Union announcing crew when Didier Drogba was introduced, and when asked how his side would react, he indicated that little would change. This is notable because Drogba came in for Patrice Bernier, meaning that the Impact shifted to a two-striker set and were now attacking with four instead of three. Soon after, Dominic Oduro entered as an option to run in behind when Drogba brought down 70-80 yard balls on his chest (because he does that regularly, and it’s always, always impressive). Philly responded by adding Ilsinho on the right, ostensibly to hold possession and play penetrating passes. Then by removing Pontius and shifting a tiring Barnetta to the left, to help with Oduro; it was Barnetta who was slow to close down the cross that led to Mancosu’s goal.

This was a match the Union should have won. They gave up their 13th goal in the final 15 minutes of a match, meaning 29 percent of the goals they have allowed this season have come in the final 17 percent of game time. Additionally, Philly gave up the goal to a team that has been extremely good in the final 15 minutes of the match (13 goals so far) without using two available defensive-minded substitutes.

In the end, it may be best to chalk this up as (hopefully) a learning experience for the Union coaching staff and for the players. The Union know they are at their best when they are a high energy, quick-transition team, and they were not that on Saturday. Furthermore, the coaches went with what seemed like pre-planned substitutions instead of recognizing that Bedoya and Barnetta had both given all they had and at least one needed to step off. Perhaps this match is best viewed both as a reminder of how young and inexperienced the Union — both on the field and on the sidelines — still are, and how far they have come since 2015. The Impact are an extremely experienced side, and they didn’t bat an eye after going down a goal. Philly will need to do better going forward, especially considering how difficult their last five matches are going to be.

Player ratings

Andre Blake – 7

If Blake’s distribution can improve in the offseason (and it must), he’s on his way to being elite. Box control has slowly improved all season.

Keegan Rosenberry – 6

Tasked with watching Piatti, he didn’t get forward as often as usual. That said, he did a fine job on the Argentinian playmaker, who found moments of brilliance but struggled to be a singular force against the rookie. 

Joshua Yaro – 4

Now that it is fairly clear Yaro has the starting job going forward, the next step is for him to just… trust himself. There are a surprising number of moments when Yaro and either Blake or Marquez seem to hesitate, as if they aren’t sure who is taking charge of a situation. It is in these moments that we remember how stop-n-start Yaro’s season has been. Then he laces a pass through the midfield (a necessary pass, with Montreal shutting down the left side) or accelerates to clear the box, and it becomes clear how high his ceiling is. The mistakes Yaro made were typical of his season, and they are mistakes the Union will have to live with as they look to build a stronger sense of understanding in back over the last five matches of the season. Yaro remains the best option going forward, but he needs to trust himself and take more responsibility as the playoffs approach. One thing Yaro did well was advance the ball when he had space. Below, you can see him draw Bernier in, but both holding mids check for a square ball meaning there is no free man forward.

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Richie Marquez – 6

Compared to Yaro, Marquez continues to play a bit deeper, which can pull Fabinho further back and slow Union attacks up the left. Montreal did a great job closing down the route from Fabi to Pontius, which meant that Marquez’s deep positioning created issues getting out of the back on the left. Defensively, he was strong, and helped with Ontivero since Mancosu was working the right side of the back line. One question that must be asked of Marquez is why he lets himself get dragged deep when he could hold a line and let forwards drift offsides. It may be that the constant changing for CBs next to him makes him wary of holding the line. In the 30th minute, you can see both Marquez and Yaro allow Mancosu to pull them far, far deeper than they should be, which allows Montreal to play into space behind Rosenberry. That pass is not available if the defense is holding a higher line. It has never made sense for Philly to counterpress while simultaneously dropping deep defensively.

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Fabinho – 5

With Toia sitting on Pontius, Fabinho needed to draw attention to free up the Union’s leading scorer. Instead, he was pinned deep by Ontivero, and it made it difficult for Philly to switch fields and open up the match.

Creavalle stayed central and ensured that Bernier couldn't break through, and that Mancosu had to slide wide to receive the ball.

Creavalle stayed central and ensured that Bernier couldn’t break through, and that Mancosu had to slide wide to receive the ball.

Warren Creavalle – 6

A wonderful step forward for Creavalle, who hung in the middle, kept things simple, and showed that he can be an incredible nuisance (a compliment) when he is positioned well. He still struggles to provide support to the wings, but that just seems to be the way it goes.

Alejandro Bedoya – 4

Simply put, Bedoya needs to be a force both defensively and in attack for the Union to make a run this season. He looked (understandably) tired Saturday. Philly’s success over the next month and a half depends on him being more involved going forward so the team can control the ball and not simply score and hope they don’t give up goals.

Tranquillo Barnetta – 7

A sensational shot that capped off an active performance. Perhaps the one downside to his game is that his continual push forward tended to create gaps between him and the rest of the midfield, which struggled to get into the match. This can hardly be blamed on Barnetta, but it will be interesting to see if his connections with Bedoya improve once the latter has his legs back.

Chris Pontius – 4

A rare off-night brought on by a good defensive system that kept him in check.

Fabian Herbers – 7

An assist, and the only key passes of the first half, but Herbers has more to give. His defensive work was excellent though, and even in the 64th minute he was sprinting back to help Rosenberry with Piatti.

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CJ Sapong – 5

He needs to get on the end of those balls in the box. That said, he took an absolute beating and received almost no protection from Villarreal.

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Ilsinho – 7

Did exactly what he was on to do, hold the ball and play it into safe areas.

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Roland Alberg – 6

Not the right sub, but did what he usually does: Hung high and looked for openings.

Geiger counter – 1

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Missed penalty aside, Armando Villareal was only spared a fight because these teams were so tired. He seemed to think that going through the back is a legal move now, and let both teams do it consistently. Given, the typical complaint against PRO refs is inconsistency, but this was swinging far too much the other way.

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  1. I am so glad you put up videos compare the call outside the box and the non-call inside. Beside the knee to Barnetta’s head IT IS THE EXACT SAME FOUL! That was a historically bad ref performance.

  2. Feel herbers score is too high.

    So is sapongs. Sapon is a 2. To get a golden 1 v1 chance and not even get a shot on goal is pathetic.

    I also hope i stop reading how much he gets bumped and fouled and blah blah blah. He is completely impotent in the final third.

    • @James. Fair arguments for both to be lower. But Sapong’s defense was absolutely key to making sure Montreal had to play through Camara and not Ciman/Piatti. Herbers also put in excellent work defensively while being the only option going forward for much of the match (he had the only key passes on the team in the first half). Huge difference in Piatti’s space w him on vs Ilsinho last time around (given, helps A LOT to have Bedoya and no Drogba).

      Also, Herbers took a shot in the back to set up the goal. And even though he missed Bedoya on the drop, he took his shot like a striker and put it on frame. All of these are big positives for me, but I understand people who emphasize other aspects of his game.

      And I thought the amount of abuse Sapong took on Saturday was exceptional. Even for a guy who gets hit a lot, Villareal really let an enormous amount of obvious contact go.

      • I agree about both. You are’t wrong about Sapong. His defense is a big part of how we play and what we do.

        Still, even knowing that – it gets tiring. Having a striker who is no threat to strike. Having a striker who can’t seem to get a shot on goal let alone score.

        I know Sapong does good things. It’s just after a season of watching this, we need more. And I just wonder how long we can play offense when our Striker is barely a threat to actually to striker things.

    • Just Rob f/k/a Rob127 says:

      +1 on Herbers. His first touch was pretty awful for most of the night. I thought he wasted several chances in the first half when he had the ball in space on the wing. Certainly not the worst performance we’ve seen but he doesn’t deserve a 7 because he hustled back on defense.

      • 7 because he had an assist and all the team’s creative passing in the first half, plus the defense.

        But more broadly, I’m curious about the notion that he shouldn’t be rewarded in the ratings for helping defend Piatti. Nacho tore the Union apart last time he faced them, and it was largely because he found pockets of space in front of Rosenberry. Again, Bedoya helps – but Herbers workrate contributed to Piatti’s limited involvement (and even then he pulled off some spectacular passes, like the one that put Mancosu through in the 62nd. That was awesome.).

        Just curious, because this seems to be a fairly open debate.

      • I think the fanbase may be tiring of hearing how hard working and defensive minded our offensive players are. We might be ready to hear about how our offensive player play,well, you know, on offense. And not offensively..
        Yes, MTL is dangerous. They’re also inconsistent, getting smacked by OC and losing at home to the Fire. Points were dropped. We knew in January FWD depth was an issue. Bringing in a guy who may struggle to go 15 is a cause for concern. So as much as I’d like to drop Sapong from the XI, for who? For what? Alberg up top? I guess.

      • nice ricky waters….reference.
        well timed to as I recall that moment coming after game one against Tampa Bay many years ago…

      • In fairness, the Union have 48 goals, and the only 3 teams ahead of that have 49, so there is a lot of offense going on.

        And also, Herbers has a better G+A rate than Chris Pontius has this year or any year in his career. (He’s notched a goal or assist every ~131 min. Pontius currently at ~149). So whatever he’s doing defensively is complementing an incredibly impressive rookie campaign.

        I’d also add that maaaaybe leaving full strength Toronto aside, there isn’t a consistent team in the Eastern Conference. NY drops more points from good positions than Sonic the hedgehog drops coins, and NYC hasn’t gotten much production out of anybody that doesn’t cost more than the entire Union roster.

      • Good point on the offense. The only teams ahead of the Union in Goals scored have the following strikers: Robbie Keane, Bradley Wright Phillips, David Villa. The fact that the Union have put up what is basically the same production using an underperforming CJ Sapong should give great hope and speak to the quality of the Midfield.

      • Sonic drops rings…

      • What does cost effectiveness have to do with it?
        Yeah, the U have scored a lot, but do you get the sense there’s an offensive plan besides a Dorny “go to the net and good things happen”? CJ has 7 goals, 1 PK and 6 from inside the 6 yard box. 2 assists, and for a guy who was going to create 20+ he’s missing his own goals,as well as our expectations. .

        Your breakdowns of other teams talk about their attacks. With us, it’s take a punch, counter and hope someone gets a toe on it. Not really much of a game plan.

      • Lucky Striker says:

        That’s all there is…there isn’t any more…….

      • I mean this in all honesty, would you still say that if the Union gave up another goal due to Herbers lack of defensive hustle? After losing 5-1 to Montreal anything positive involving defense HAS to be a huge consideration when grading a player

    • Totally agree on the problems with Sapong, it doesn’t matter how hard he works or how good his defense is, he needs to score. Att least the easy ones. Or at least get shots on goal. or at least help others score (he has 2 assists). Could we switch Herbers and CJ?

    • Agreed. As the article notes, the Impact defense was shifted left the whole night and Herbers had tons of space and chances to shoot and cross, which he did not take advantage of.

  3. Two quick callouts – one I’ve been meaning to share for a few weeks now.
    Every game, Ray Gaddis comes over to the sideline and shakes hands / high fives all the kids gathered there to watch warmups. It’s awesome, and a great way to keep some of those kids interested going forward.
    John McCarthy also deserves HUGE kudos. At halftime, John spent a significant amount of time passing a ball back and forth with all the kids gathered for the Kick Cancer program. He talked to each of them, took pictures, and just spent quite a bit of time “playing soccer” with them. An absolute class act.

    • @John – thanks for sharing this!

      • I’ve been meaning to give Ray his due props for quite a while now, but kept forgetting. He does it every game, and it’s fantastic to watch the excitement on the kids’ faces.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Back when Paul W. Brown, Jr. was still coaching the Cleveland Browns, he used messenger guards to shuttle in the play calls. One of those guards was a man from Mississippi named Gene Hickerson. He was always the last off the practice field because he signed autographs for anyone who wanted one.

  4. Adam – Thanks for pointing out the total team breakdown on MTL’s goal. People typically focus on the nearest defender (Creavalle), but it was a myriad of individual mistakes which allow MTL to equalize.

    Do you think that some of these marking issues are due to lack of leadership on the defensive side of the ball since most of our back five is so young? I can’t help, but think having either Carroll and/or Edu back in the lineup will help fill this void It really helps to have an experienced central defender who can organize the group just because 99% of the action happens right in front of them. If you were Curtin, would you consider moving Edu back to central defense when he returns to full fitness? And if so, how do you partner him with? Thanks.

  5. I can not and will not learn ever why Creavalle is on the field. 6 sorry no way he gets a 6 this game. Also don’t understand the people who defend him. Positionally the guy is just awful terrible. His distribution breaks any flow to the game and he is stifling Bedoya. As Bedoya has to play the 6 and 8 cause Creavalle is always wandering the field aimless like he has no brain. His runner was who scored. His runner in the first half had a clear sitter on goal that they pulled a CJ on and never got to the ball. i Just can’t stand seeing this guy on the field as his soccer IQ has got to be one of the worst I’ve seen. He just ruins any organization a team has. And to go along with this rant I am done with CJ Sapong. I don’t care about his defensive work rate if you can’t score goals you can NOT be a striker. Fine put him on the wing if you have to play him, but he is a god awful striker. Every game I see the same old thing CJ can’t get to the ball and score and Creavalle is wandering out of position. I’m tired of it cause this team is better than that and we have better players sitting on the bench to replace these guys. Everyone can tell me Alberg is a poacher and not good for a 9, fine give me the poacher, you know what poachers do that CJ doesn’t they score goals. If its Alberg on the break easy 2-0 game over. CJ not even a shot on goal. And Carroll sitting on the bench still to end this game is mind boggling especially when they said he could go 45minutes or more. Would have clearly put him on at least at 60 or so when guys looked tired and momentum was heading towards montreal at the latest he would’ve been on at 70 minutes. But face it when Montreal throws every attacking player they have onto the field what does Curtin do nothing like usual. Game should’ve clearly been 3 points. And if Blake is out for any extended period which is possible with a back injury I think their playoff hopes are in jeopardy.

    • Disagree about Creavalle. I thought he had a very strong match. He broke up passes and generally harassed the Impact all game. That’s exactly what he’s supposed to do. (Now if only he could do it consistently…)

      • Did you not see him lose his man to give up the final goal. Or How he lost Ontivero and Bernier early I mean read Gonzhao below. These are all perfect examples of why he can’t be on the field. Or try the fact that Bedoya consistently all game was sitting further and further back since Creavalle was wandering higher up the field (for no reason since he is the CDM). I bet if you look at the location on the pitch in the final 30 minutes Creavalle was probably in the top 4 of guys highest up the pitch (not what you want from your CDM with a 1-0 lead). I just don’t get what people see in him.

      • In fairness, I’m not totally against Creavalle or his usage in this match. Given the hand Curtin had been dealt, he picked the same starting XI I would have based on BC not being fit enough to go 90. Creavalle has a role, and he played it very well from minute 15 until minute 75. That’s the problem. Curtin 100% had to bring on BC and I have no earthly clue as to why he didn’t. We can debate who you take off (there’s an argument to pull Bedoya since he was not playing well) but the truth is the defense needed an organizer to prevent that goal, and BC is the best player on the team at that.

      • Totally agree about Carroll. I was screaming for him at the 60th minute too.
        Also generally agree about Creavalle. But as Adam said above, if you look back at the entire goal sequence, it was Yaro marking Mancosu who lost his man. Creavalle was guarding post, then stepped up badly to try to make a play. If Yaro doesn’t lose his man, Creavalle doesn’t have to try to make the play.

      • Okay so maybe it was Yaro who lost his man, but then if Creavalle was on the post if he was still on the post as he should be unless Blake pushes him out that goal doesn’t happen. My thing with Creavalle is he has no positional awareness. I understand Carroll couldn’t go 90 so yeah maybe Creavalle plays, but not as long as he did.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Generally, when the cross on a CK goes back away from goal, the men on the posts step forward to create offsides and to mark targets of opportunity. Obviously, I have no idea how the technical staff instruct the Union’s CK defense since I am not there yo hear the teaching.

      • Yes OSC I would agree that typically yes as the ball comes out you would clear off the post as the goalie instructs. Which could lead to a few points did Creavalle not move fast enough? Did no one tell him to move? Was there someone else keeping everyone onside anyway? Again I just think positionally Creavalle is the wrong fit on this team he breaks up what they are trying to do.

  6. You are not giving Fabi enough credit. Late in the game, when everyone else looked tired, he was a force on defense, getting the ball and pushing it upfield. He had the energy Bedoya needed.

    As to Bedoya I hope you are right to blame it on him being tired. Because so far I haven’t seen anything to make me think he is a difference maker, certainly not a DP.

    • @JMac – You could very well be right on Fabi. I’m sure I’m still fighting the tendency to treat him like a player that either gets forward or makes mistakes, and the truth is he’s been far more than that for a while now.

      On Bedoya, I think he’s been excellent when rested and healthy. His trajectory is probably going to be like Barnetta’s last season. Took a while before he figured out where to be, what to do, where everyone else would be/what they would do. So far, his biggest contribution has been stemming transitions by the opposing team, and that is huge given how many the Union were giving up with Barnetta at the No. 8.

    • I also thought Fabinho was excellent. Some of the same Impact strategy that stifled Pontius also kept Fabinho from making his trademarks run forward, but he kept his head and was solid defensively.

  7. Creavalle should be at least a point lower. He lost Mancosu on the goal, lost Ontivero on the absolute gift of a chance he missed in the 7th minute and he was at least part of the miscommunication in the 9th when Bernier should have scored. It was probably Fabinho’s responsibility to stay with that run, but Bernier was hanging in Creavalle’s area when he started his run. Realistically, he could have been on the hook for 3. Montreal failing to convert doesn’t totally absolve him (though his effort for the remainder of the match does)

    • Absolutely correct and this is what I was saying above. To me I give Creavalle maybe a 3 at best this game.

    • He was on the post on the goal, he without a doubt did not lose him on that. I agree he should probably be a point lower, but he didn’t lose the mark on the goal…looks at Yaro.

      • Agreed. No idea on how people haven’t seen above that Yaro was marking Mancosu when the play started and never tracked him.

      • That ball cannot be allowed through to the back post when you’re covering the back post. Don’t care if you have to put it back out for corner number 3, Creavalle is there to prevent that ball or block the shot if he can’t get there. He did neither and is at fault. This isn’t to say the rest of the team (and sure, Curtin too) didn’t have a hand in it, just that his is the easiest play to make.
        As for Yaro on that ball, he’s positioned to win the ball should nobody get to it for the flick on. I’m actually more upset at Alberg for not getting either a) a piece of that flick or b) pushing the attacker in the back a bit more since it had been established that its quite legal as long as Villareal is the official.

      • Last time that I checked Mancuso scored the goal, not the empty space that Yaro was marking. If the Union were playing a zonal system you would be right on Yaro being positioned well. However, they clearly weren’t and I would venture that if Yaro had stayed with his mark as designed, MTL doesn’t score on this play.

      • Definitely true on the system. You’re right that Yaro certainly has some blame on the play. For me, Yaro is likely to get picked off in the action behind him anyway, which is why Creavalle has to patrol that zone at the back post better. That’s what I see on that play, for what it’s worth. I’m certainly not an expert though.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        My impression which applies only to the set-up for their CK defense, is that they are playing a combination defense.
        there are four guys zonal near the goal: on the near post, on the 4 on the vertical drawn from that near post a third on that same vertical about the 8, and then one in front of the Keeper about the 8. The rest mark many for man. They leave the back post open at the beginning, generally, don’t they.

      • In addition to Adam’s great breakdown here, Kevin Kinkead has a good breakdown of Montreal’s goal that includes well-timed screen grabs.

  8. OneManWolfpack says:

    Adam… your explanation of the subs / lack of subs, was absolutely spot on. Well done. I am getting tired of learning experiences. A better manager doesn’t make that mistake. Could the Union still have given up the tying goal even with the proper subs coming on, of course…yes. But better managers put their teams in better positions.

  9. When Jim Curtin became manager, he was just terrible at making substitutions. He had continued problems early this season, but then really got on the stick about that particular issue. And hey — young coaches, like young players, have a learning curve. But last match, like a young player, he reverted to old form. I am absolutely baffled at why he didn’t use his final subs, and why he didn’t sub earlier on an oppressively hot and humid evening. Hopefully he learns from this, as he learned from prior mistakes at substitution.

  10. Regarding the push in the back call, the one called when Barnetta was pushed was the exception (and I think the linesman basically made the call). Montreal players spent half the game just shoving Union players in the back without it getting called.

    • @Andy – Yeah, that was the linesman’s call. And I was disappointed he didn’t flag the one in the box. It also should’ve been his call, because the arm in the back was quite clear.

    • The ref didn’t cost us the game or anything, but he was horrible because he let the game get dangerous for no reason. I still don’t understand why any ref isn’t tough at the beginning of games to set the tone.

  11. You get more defensively with Herbers on the field than Ilsinho, but I think Herbers at the RW really hurts us on the offensive front. In many ways, I think that part of the problem is Pontius and Herbers are both more simplistic and direct attackers. I’m not criticizing either by that comment, you need a balance of direct and creative attackers, but the balance seems to be off with Herbers, Pontius, and Sapong as the front three. On twitter after the game, I commented about the chemistry between Rosenberry and Ilsinho (and how much better it is than Rosenberry and Herbers). I think the same can be said of Bedoya and Barnetta. Those three players – Barnetta, Bedoya, and Rosenberry – seem to thrive when Ilsinho or Alberg comes on. There is more movement, more instances when the opponent is drawn out of position, and more quick passing interchanges.
    I understand the position that Herbers gives you more defensive help and I genuinely believe that is true. However, Ilsinho gives us more possession and an opportunity to take control of a game that we haven’t seen with Herbers on the field. I do not think that is a coincidence.
    I would add this as well: the defensive issues we have experienced over the summer are not down to Ilsinho (not that anyone has truly suggested that it is) and Herbers is not going to rectify it. Ilsinho was starting out on that RW regularly in the spring when we had our best defensive displays of the season.
    Finally, I’d like to take another opportunity to discuss Creavalle. Yes, he had some excellent passes, a number of tackles, and played better than Bedoya. He is, however, still a large part of the problem in my opinion. Statistics can be deceiving – Maidana was an assist machine, but his positioning killed us. The same is true of Creavalle. His passing numbers and defensive stats are excellent, but his instinct to chase the ball and leave the 6 spot wreaks havoc on our formation. It’s the same thing Nogueira talked about last year, and why he liked playing with BC: a stay-at-home CDM clogs the channels and creates a safety net for the 8 to move through. Many of us have spoken about how nice it is to see Bedoya playing so much defense. Personally, I think that is a problem. Nogueira NEVER played defense to the degree we have seen Bedoya play. With Creavalle at the 6, the 8 is shackled by defensive responsibilities and positional chaos.

    • I agree about Bedoya, but disagree about Herbers. I think we look better when Alberg and Ilsinho come in because they are great subs. They do not look nearly as dangerous when they start.

    • very astute reasoning.

    • I’ll refer you to a stat Adam posted further up the discussion: Herbers has notched a goal or assist every ~131 min. Pontius currently at ~149. And not a soul is currently criticizing Pontius (nor should they be). So he’s creating, scoring, and still putting in the defensive work.

      • Yes, but, as a I said above, I think part of the problem is that Pontius and Herbers are too similar in style – both very direct attackers. Ilsinho brings a different element of creativity. And, as I noted, there is more to it than statistical contribution.
        I think it would be interesting to look at the goals scored/conceded with Ilsinho on the field compared to Herbers. If we are trying to measure impact, that would gives us a better picture than solely relying on goals/assists on an individual level.

      • How many of those were as a starter? Isn’t Herbers just providing the same spark off the bench as Ilsinho?

  12. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I would offer one comment about the lively debate on the corner kick that tied the game.
    In the 88th minute after an unknown but finite and comparatively large number of corners taken by Montreal with direct delivery into the box, Montreal took its first short corner of the game and caught the Union by surprise.
    Hindsight says the timing of the change of pace was perfect. That timing contributed to the chaos. When the minds and bodies are that tired, the reactions stay in “Oh My God” mode longer than they should and the instant reaction to the instant recognition is not instant either time.
    Since I am enjoined from chalking it to a learning experience, them’s the breaks.

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