A View from Afar

Five thoughts on the Union, the universe and everything

Photo: 215pix

Five thoughts on the Union, the universe and everything.

Ready? Go.

Andre Blake’s breakthrough

Andre Blake may be having his international breakthrough.

Blake made multiple ridiculous saves last week to lead Jamaica to a 1-0 upset of Mexico in the Gold Cup semifinals.

A similar performance against the U.S. in the final Wednesday could add to that and significantly increase his international profile.

Many big foreign clubs probably treat with skepticism a goalkeeper from a non-soccer power such as Jamaica, much like Keylor Navas was undervalued until Costa Rica’s quarterfinals run in the 2014 World Cup.

But don’t be surprised if Mexican clubs get interested in Blake. Stonewalling the national team, even if it’s not their best squad, has a way of doing that.

Sure, Blake has some distribution issues. But more and more, he looks like one of the two best shot-stoppers in CONCACAF. The other one plays for Real Madrid.

Appreciate him while you can, Union fans.

Summer transfer window update

We’re halfway through the summer transfer window for MLS and there hasn’t been a peep from the Union.

Treat that with all the significance it deserves: None.

While “transfer rumors” may be spectator sport in Europe, the Union have locked the door on such rumors during Earnie Stewart’s tenure as sporting director. Combine with that the fact that good American journalists are less inclined to print rumors, many of which are floated by agents to get their players in the press. (Remember Alberg to England for $2 million? Right.) Transfer rumors, or the lack thereof, do not reflect activity behind the scenes here.

For most of the Union’s existence, the summer transfer window has been a train wreck, such as when they dumped team icon Danny Califf to sign Bakary Soumare, who was still recovering from a significant knee injury, or of course when they brought in Rais Mbolhi and launched a year’s worth of goalkeeper jokes.

But things have changed the last two years. Tranquillo Barnetta and Alejandro Bedoya both proved to be good summer signings. Another signing along those lines is necessary, although take note that neither one really settled in with the team until they had a full preseason, like most MLS midseason signings.

Everyone knows what the Union need: A No. 10 and another reliable scorer at center forward.

The transfer window runs through Aug. 9. Circle the date on your calendar.

Oh, Roland …

For every great goal that Roland Alberg scores, there’s a dirty play like this.

And there’s an on-field argument with a teammate, like his demonstrative, public rebuke of Fafa Picault during Wednesday’s Montreal game for not passing when Picault had Ilsinho available in front of goal with Alberg trailing.

Union head coach Jim Curtin described the dynamic accurately, if diplomatically: “The 90 percent or 95 percent option is to square it across for a tap-in. There were some guys who were disappointed in his play. The one thing to be said, though, about Fafa, is that he puts the work in defensively, and some of the guys that were upset with him didn’t have their best night either.”

Did Picault make the wrong decision? Of course he did. And judging by his body language in the video, he knew it too.

Alberg didn’t need to show up his teammate like that. Have that argument in the locker room.

It reminds me of last year, when Alberg made a bad decision just like Picault did and then cursed out Tranquillo Barnetta in full view of television cameras after Barnetta took issue with it.

Najem and Epps finally get a start

Rookies Adam Najem and Marcus Epps got their first starts on Saturday. Each showed potential. Each showed he’s a rookie.

Epps: Epps put defenders on their heels a few times with his quick twitch first step, demonstrating an explosive ability to instantaneously go from full stop to full speed with the ball at his feet. Then defenders adjusted and gave him space to take that first step, and there was nothing else. He’ll have to adapt. He looked good in the air winning headers, but he also looked complicit in some of the second half defensive breakdowns that left Columbus with vast spaces in the open field against the Union back line.

Najem: Najem put himself in decent positions, demonstrated good comfort on the ball, and displayed pretty good passing vision on a few occasions, though he didn’t always make the right decisions. On the night, he completed 87 percent of his passes, with two key passes leading to shots. Not bad, but not spectacular either. That said, it’s hard to measure his quality based on this performance because Jay Simpson spent the night gumming up the central channels with a static lack of movement. Like Epps, Najem showed enough to warrant more minutes and make you wonder what he could do when paired with a better attacking group around him.

Mike Petke: The man, the myth, the legend

If you haven’t seen Mike Petke’s targeted and spot-on takedown of MLS officiating, you need to watch it.

Way to take one for the team, Mike — in this case, that team is pretty much every MLS fan, player and coach. It’s so spot on that fans have started a GoFundMe page to help Petke pay the fine that everyone expects MLS to levy.


  1. Barnetta was signed on July 29. Bedoya was signed on Aug. 3. Window closes on Aug. 10.

  2. My only issue Dan…”when they brought in Rais Mbolhi and launched a year’s worth of goalkeeper jokes.” More like a Franchise lifetime of jokes. Pretty sure I saw an M’bohli joke earlier this year…
    Besides that minor complaint ;), spot on on everything else.
    I know I said this yesterday but, I really wish Petke was the Union’s coach.

  3. Imagine what Petke’s fine would have been had his printer not jammed.
    Also, imagine how the Union players feel, that it took someone else’s coach to stand up and say something about their teammate getting throttled.

  4. I know I’m like a broken record on this blog, but… Roland Alberg needs to go. Every time he scores a goal, and people get all hyped and want him back in the lineup, they are forgetting about his lack of defense, his lackluster passing, and his terrible attitude.

  5. With the performance that Blake is having at the Gold Cup, should the Union try to cash in and sell him now?

  6. MLS website just posted the Union’s xG for the Columbus game… a depressing 0.16…
    All other teams ranged from 0.51 to 2.95…
    Now I’m more depressed…

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