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Philadelphia Union

In the frustration that followed Sunday’s loss to Orlando, it might have been tempting to view the season finale against NYRB as something of a formality for, even if the Union also lose that game, New England would have to make up a 12-goal goal difference to take the final playoff spot from Philadelphia. (Here are the tie-breakers for team standings heading into the playoffs.)

But there is something rather important to play for, outside of the pressing desire to end the team’s six-game winless streak. An article at MLSsoccer.com notes, “Philadelphia can’t host a Knockout Round match, but they would move up to fifth – setting up a playoff matchup with D.C. – if they beat the Red Bulls and the Impact lose at New England on Sunday.” Sure, part of the equation is out of the Union’s control but what would you prefer, the team having to travel to Toronto as would be the case if they remain in sixth place and the standings above them remain the same (they could travel to face NYCFC if Toronto finishes in second place), or the team, backed by a convoy of travelling support, make the drive down 95 to DC (an admittedly surging DC, mind you)?

Armchair Analyst Matthew Doyle’s take on the Union:

Philadelphia lost 2-0 at home to Orlando City, and are backing into the playoffs only because the Revs couldn’t beat Chicago. The issue for Philly is twofold: First, C.J. Sapong is no longer goal dangerous. Second, because Sapong is no longer goal-dangerous they have to send more guys forward and takes more risks, and that leads to breakaways in the other direction.

It is dumb to say “the problem with this team is that they don’t score goals,” but… for real. They’ve scored only five in their last six, and every time out it seems like they’re throwing another fullback forward. That makes for exciting soccer, but it’s also made for some sad fans in Chester.

ASN’s Brian Sciaretta on “awful Philadelphia” backing into the playoffs after Sunday’s loss: “Jim Curtin’s job security will now revolve around how the Union performs in the playoffs. A quick exit and Earnie Stewart might want to make a switch and further implement his vision on the team’s future.” Sciaretta is wrong to say that the low expectations for the club in the preseason “rose when it acquired Alejandro Bedoya” — expectations rose on the way to the team finishing first in the East at the Copa America break, but there’s no disputing “Jim Curtin’s team has been woeful down the stretch”.

At Goal.com, Ives Galarcep writes, “It is difficult to envision any playoff run lasting very long given the Union’s recent form. They are 0-4-2 in their past six, and 5-10-4 since the Copa America break in June. That woeful form has put a damper on a season that started out looking like it could be one of the turnarounds of the season in MLS.”

The dreary theme continues in this week’s power rankings. At ESPN, the Union remain at No. 12: “What was once a promising season has turned sour for the Union”. At SI, the Union drop three spots to No. 14: “The Union are in freefall. Any kind of positive result–even a draw–at home against already-eliminated Orlando would have secured the playoffs for Philly. Instead, they looked awful in a 2–0 loss and were booed off the field.” At Soccer America, the Union drop two spots to No. 17: “A fizzle instead of a flourish is how Philly is ending the season.”

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead writes,

Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Orlando is the the type of game that gets coaches fired.

I don’t know if Jim Curtin deserves that, because the truth is that this team really has overachieved in 2016, despite what we’ve seen in September and October. They came out and performed above expectations with a rag-tag combination of rookies, veterans, and reclamation projects. The club captain suffered a long-term setback in the winter and the best player on the team left in the middle of the season.

So, the results after 33 games are not surprising.

At the beginning of the year, we saw the Union as a team that might be able to reach 5th or 6th place in the east, and it appears that’s exactly where they will finish.

Kinkead notes CJ Sapong “can’t be blamed for everything” but his lack of goal production is a fundamental weakness: “If you look at the teams atop the east, they all have one thing in common, and that’s a star striker in the starting lineup. Sapong is a nice player, and he’s done some great things in Philadelphia, but he just isn’t the guy to take this team to the next level.”

At Delco Times, Matthew De George on how “the limp 2-0 humbling at the hands of Orlando City became an impromptu Rorschach test for the Union’s season.” He continues,

This is Year 1 of the rebuilding project, and avenues like the one the Union have pursued in building through youth with draftees and academy products usually take years to reach their destination. On that account, the club is ahead of schedule…

But the most pressing question is reserved for the official culmination of the Union’s campaign. Does scraping into the playoffs, slinking off to Toronto or D.C., and getting drubbed out of the playoffs three days after the regular season ends really leave you with a sense of achievement? Does it move the needle of excitement on the Union as a franchise?

The 700 Level on the Union backing into the playoffs with a 2-0 loss: “Leave it to the Union to have something good happen and it STILL feels bad.”

More from Sunday’ s loss at SBI and Metro.

Section 215 searches for perspective after the loss.

Apparently, Fabinho leads the league in open play crosses completed with 30 for the season. He led the league in that category over the weekend too with four. (Yes, I do want to make a joke about whether he also led the league last weekend in turnovers leading to a game-winning goal but I will refrain.)

At the Union website, the weekly “By the Numbers” and “Around the East” posts.

Also at the Union website, a look at La Union Latina, an emerging supporters group that “provides Latino fans of the Union a place to celebrate the team all while sharing their cultural love for soccer.”

At Delco Times, Matthew De George on how the Power Training Complex, and the partnership between the Union and Power Home Remodeling, could be the impetus toward continued redevelopment of the Chester riverfront.

Local

Temple begins a three-game home stand this afternoon when they host Delaware at 3 pm in their final non-conference game of the season. Temple is currently undefeated at home and on a 8-5-1 record overall.

This week’s Philly Soccer Six award winners are:

Player of the Week: Andreas Bartosinski, Villanova (second goal in 2-2 draw)
Rookie of the Week: Isaac Agyapong, Saint Joseph’s (program’s first-ever goal against Davidson)

MLS

At Fox Soccer, Caitlyn Murray says it’s time for Montreal to move on from Didier Drogba.

Also at Fox Soccer, can Dallas overcome the loss of Mauro Diaz, suffered a torn achilles tendon on Sunday?

Columbus Business First reports, “Columbus Crew SC is looking into building a new home to replace the roughly 20,000-seat stadium it opened in 1999 as Major League Soccer’s first soccer-specific stadium.”

US

Soccer America looks at how a recent FIFA ruling has improved the chances the US could host the World Cup in 2026.

Elsewhere

Champions League play returns to day. Check out the latest Footy on the Telly for listings of how to watch all of the games.

The AP reports, “FIFA has blocked rock concerts from being staged in World Cup stadiums in the weeks before the 2018 tournament kicks off in Russia.”

20 Comments

  1. Here is my honest opinion on the last match. Rest as many starters as possible. I know we can technically catch Montreal. Frankly I don’t want to catch them. I’d rather play Toronto or NYCFC right now instead of DC. There’s no benefit to getting our players tired or injured then having to play a road playoff game 3 days later. Hit the reset button and start thinking about the playoff game.

    • Agreed, the game means nothing aside from pride. Rest Pontius, Barnetta, Bedoya and anyone else that needs a break (I would include Sapong in that group). We need people fresh for a midweek match. Give Edu and Davies each a 60 min run out to see where they are at. I would include Kratz here as well, but I have no idea on how his fitness is.

      That said, this will never happen and we’ll trot out the same XI as last game.

    • I have mixed feelings on this.
      .
      1) They just had two weeks off coming into last week’s game and I’d much rather the team enter the playoffs with a WIN.
      .
      2) It’s Barnetta’s last home game. He and the fans deserve the opportunity to say thank you.

    • Disagree. We need momentum to start the play-offs (in order to have some chance of winning our first ever playoff game). The only way to get momentum is to win this last game. Need also to figure out a formation that will score goals. If we rest all starters nothing will be learned.

    • I think getting win at home to go into the playoffs with some confidence would be better. However, it’s an opportunity to rest/bench CJ and try something new for a starting forward. Start Alberg. Or Put Alberg on the wing and Herbers up top. Bring CJ in later.

      • This is what I have been saying for weeks now. Plus I’ve also been saying they haven’t scored and so many people argued with me saying what do you mean their top of the league in scoring. Do you all see what I mean now? 5 goals in 6 games is pathetic with this lineup.

      • Nostradamus says:

        People think that I can predict the future, but really, I just read the PSP boards for all of my predictions. Thanks, Doc.

  2. RE: Negativity and Dreary Assessments —– and to close up shop, hopefully one last time, on being called out yet again by a certain poster.
    .
    Can’t be the third leg of a triangle. Can’t make the simple pass on the carpet, poised and thinking ahead when my right midfielder has laid the ball off after hiding, hands and hipping his way to retain possession.
    .
    Can’t put a sitter in the net. Can’t switch the point of attack to the weak side of the field. Can’t change my substitution patterns. Can’t deposit the spot kick in the net in the most important game in franchise history. Can’t sit the lone (non scoring) striker in our 4-2-3-1.
    .
    Can’t recruit Helper B Cells and T Cells or decrease the inflammatory response in Mo Edu’s leg. Can’t strengthen Altidore’s quad to help his hamstring not rupture. Can’t convince a family that traveling to Baltimore with their 8 year old for a game that’s going to be cancelled and therefore not played to the loss of 10 hours on a Saturday is a waste of time. Can’t get those kids to come outside for a free play pick up ten minutes away with 1000 times more touches. Can’t convince another family that rabid yelling parents on the sideline in a meaningless tournament game to hoist a trophy which means nothing is to the ultimate detriment of our youth development.
    .
    Can’t arrive late in the box…yet just in time. Can’t convince Noguiera to stay. Can’t do any of these things…. CAN only come here and vent and discourse … and give up control to all those things in professional sport and our soccer culture beyond control except a point of view.
    .
    Oh and guess what our team hasn’t won a fucking game in two months and I AM pissed off- sue me.
    .
    OOOOmmmmmmmmmmmm

    • This looks like an existential crisis. Courage and perseverance, el pachy.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        No this is in direct response to Union Goal who corned OSC with passive aggressive school kid cattiness in yesterday’s thread.
        .
        There is no crises… only honor and integrity in debate.

      • Oh. Guess I missed that.

      • As someone who sees your passive-aggressiveness on a weekly basis, I don’t think you have a leg to stand on there Henny Penny (which btw I was not talking about you, but you seem to think so for some reason).
        .
        Also Union Goal never said he left because of you. Reread. He said you drove away his enjoyment of coming here. As for your suggestion about ignoring those you don’t wanna read, I believe he is.
        .
        Also Donald Trump is the guy who keeps running his mouth and spewing all sorts into the nether. You know, the squeaky wheel gets the grease kind of thing. One to think on.

      • no worries sir. appreciate the insight.

      • For the record, I said those things because I like you or reading what you have to say 90% of the time. It’s the 10% where things verge into youth development and other things where I diverge. To quote a SNL character “And that’s, OK”.

  3. I am as disappointed as anyone – especially that lost to Orlando, which is inexcusable. Ya gotta score a goal at least – but I try and temper my disappointment and remember back to early March when I figured this team was 5th or 6th best in the East. Surviving the early season schedule was a bonus, but they’ve come back to Earth. The Crew and Revs have struggled, and the Union are benefitting from that, but they are right where they belong in my opinion.

    That being said, I CANNOT sit here and say all that matters is getting in to the playoffs when you only get in because other teams lose. Portland went on a tear last year just to get in, then rode that momentum. In the Union’s case, they are limping in and it would be an absolute miracle to make a run like that. But nonetheless I am happy they are in, and ya still never know what might happen.

  4. I’m choosing not to focus on the negativity that I could talk about with the team and instead focus on the positives about the club. I really liked that article about Power and the Union’s relationship from De George. Looks like they’ve finally found a committed partner who also wants to see the area developed. This can only lead to good and exciting things for the Union and the development of the area around the stadium.
    .
    Hopefully that leads to more and broader development for the people of Chester, but it needs to start somewhere. Looks like it finally may be happening in the near future.

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