Union

The LA Galaxy are not a good team

Photo Credit: Earl Gardner

Maybe that headline is a little unfair. The Galaxy are fourth place in the West, and it seems unlikely that they’ll be on the outside looking in come the postseason. But that’s missing the point. They’ve got a huge name in Zlatan Ibrahimović, someone who can sell tickets and score goals. That’s something the Union have never had. And their three Designated Players are definitely deserving of that title, all of them contributing significantly. But they’re not a good team. They’re not Atlanta or Dallas, walking away with their respective divisions; or even LAFC or the New Yorks, securely ensconced in a playoff position that they’d have to actively try to lose. The Galaxy have way more weaknesses than any of these teams, and an MLS 1.0 coach who couldn’t get it done in Seattle and might not get it done in Los Angeles. And all of these problems are presenting themselves in the Western Conference, which has become the softer conference over the past few years.

And they made the Union look silly.

If there’s any faith left among Union fans, someone somewhere will read that sentence and immediately start thinking “well the Union looked good in the first half!” Maybe they did, maybe perception of that first half is tainted by the reality of the second half and the Union really were in it to win it for the first forty five minutes. But that’s exactly the problem, it was the first forty five minutes. You’ve got to play the whole game if you’re going to win, and after the first Galaxy goal went in early in the second half you could see the entire Union team resign themselves to disappointment.

Those players know as well as any of us do, likely even better, that they didn’t have what they needed to beat a middling team from out west. We could point fingers, calling out the shortcomings of this current underwhelming Union roster, head coach Jim Curtin who is clearly treading water, the soon-to-be-departed Earnie Stewart, and of course Jay Sugarman and the shadowy cabal of investors that give the Union enough without ever giving them all they need. But we’ve done that already, many times over, and yet nothing changes.

The Union lost to the LA Galaxy, a team clinging to shreds of relevance by signing an elderly egomaniacal Swede. The Galaxy are not good, so if they beat the Union then the Union are a bad team. And they will continue to be a bad team, inevitable eventual winning or unbeaten streak aside, until significant fundamental changes are made to how this team plays, organizes itself, and runs it’s business.

15 Comments

  1. Meh, there’s a big difference between “We had a good first half and a bad second half and lost to the better team” and “They MaDE uS lOoK siLLy”.

    https://matchcenter.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2018-07-21-philadelphia-union-vs-la-galaxy/stats

    Looking at the stats the game was comparable and you would think it was competitive.

    Again, yes they came from behind to beat us soundly, but that does not equal “silly”.

  2. The Galaxy are not a GREAT team, but they are far from bad. The Union are an average MLS team that lacks difference makers, and always has. The margin for error for the Union is slim every game, because they don’t have a Zlatan, Martinez, Giovinco, etc. who can make a play to change a game instantly.

  3. Philly boy says:

    The Union’s problems start at the ownership group. They have had may chances to sign a “Superstar” DP but never really threw their hat in the ring. Being that Philadelphia is not as glamorous as NY or LA, the ownership needs to stop being thrifty and pay up. The Galaxy, with Zlatan and company, are the reason for the sell out crowd on a miserable, rainy day. The Union will never be anything more than a middle of the road team, unless the ownership cuts into it’s ridiculously large profit margin and signs a worthy DP, regardless of cost. It’s a shame that in 2010, the Union had all the momentum of a new team and because of poor decisions by the FC, it has leveled out to mediocrity in proformance and attendance. There is always a chance that Union could catch fire, but I believe that with the current regime, all is for not.

    – Habitually Depressed Fan –

  4. ThevUnion are the same exact team we knew before.
    Solid goalkeeping with questionable distribution.
    A promising but young defenders.
    Rosenberry and some dudes.
    A solid hardworking midfield.
    Speedy raw wingers.
    And a complete void a striker.

    Accam is a non entity
    Sapong is not working.
    Ilsinho is always gonna be kind of injured
    Burke may be an upgrade to Sapong but he isn’t the answer
    And I’m told Jay Simpson exists

    LA are top heavy but they bury thier chances and that is all the difference

  5. I’m very skeptical that this sentence is true: “Those players know as well as any of us do…that they didn’t have what they needed to beat a middling team from out west.”

    My assumption is that professional athletes competing in a high-parity league like MLS always believe they have a chance to win, especially at home, especially against a mediocre team.

    • I think that belief would take a huge hit when your coach says he’s bringing a knife to a gun fight, and you’re the knife.

  6. The Union are missing a piece at striker.
    .
    They lack elite pace in central midfield to keep up with the dos Santos brother who is the midfielder.
    .
    Nima Safagi let L. A. defenders use physicality and repeated shirt tugs a lot.
    .
    And Zlatan’s very first touch in warmups was executed perfectly without effort or thought. Sweden dropped him and went farther in the world cup than many expected, telling you the importance of chemistry if basic technical competence is available. But the man is a superb finisher, he can still do it, so, as we said on the playgrounds 60 years ago, “it ai’n’t braggin’.”
    .
    Carlos Ruiz is still the best pure finisher the Union have ever had, with all due respect to Conor Casey.
    .
    On Zlatan’s goal, McKenzie instinctively did exactly what he has been coached to do ever since kiddie ball, give support to the man defending the ball carrier, and Ibrahimovic fell open.
    .
    When Kasey Keller stoned Romario who was inside the six, Romario shook his hand. That’s about all you can do.
    .
    If we had had Ibrahimovic this season, we would be in the playoff hunt no question. But he is 36, a one or two and done.
    .
    Mr. Sugarman runs a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). He buys commercial properties and leases them to businesses. That business is all about long-term thinking. You do your due diligence very, very carefully because a huge amount of money will be tied up for a very, very long time. Short-term gain on capital is not what you are about if you are in that game.
    .
    I would think buying an old Zlatan for a year-long last hurrah is not what he does.
    .
    That a REIT man would invest his money in creating a long-term production pipeline that will create a steady-ish flow of good soccer players with an occasional great one sprinkled in here and there makes a great deal of sense because the mindsets have to be similar.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      I disagree with your assessment of commercial real estate. It’s like any other business, it’s about maximizing returns regardless of the time horizon.

      Many have speculated that Sugarman is just waiting until all of the MLS slots have been filled and then he can sell the franchise for a lot of money (a long-term view). And while that may be true, that doesn’t change the fact that he can make a better short-term return in his investment by buying a superstar goalscorer.

      And by making this short-term investment, he doesn’t change the viability of his long-term goal. In fact, one could make the case that he would improve his chances of doing so as he would have shown the next owner what the Union could be.

      Instead, he chooses to just spend his TAM and GAM to try to catch lighting in bottle by making a bunch of smaller, less expensive roster bets.

    • But Sugarman doesn’t spend his money on youth development. That’s Graham. Sugarman doesn’t spend money on transfer fees either. He’s bought a property and is investing the bare minimum to keep it afloat. That’s the definition of being a slumlord.
      .

      Union are an interesting outliner in a league we’re parity reigns. They don’t need to spend like NY/LA/Atl… but maybe they could keep up with a Columbus or KC. That would require an ownership willing to spend enough to acquire meaningful talent. Not guys from the third tier of France who are out of contract. 9 years in and we’re still waiting on something… anything… to show us this ownership cares. Spoiler alert: They do not.

  7. Chad Boardman says:

    i don’t agree that the union “looked good” in the first half. They weren’t getting embarrassed, but Blake made several quality saves to keep LA off the board. They could have easily had 3 goals.

    And before anyone says the Union could have had a few as well in the first half: LA Galaxy GF: 37. Philadelphia Union GF: 26. One of those teams gets the benefit of the doubt. The other doesn’t.

  8. Honestly, elephant in the room for much of the season is Medunjanins limited pace and coverage. Dockal is only covering so much. Bedoya can’t be in 3 places at once. Accam and Picault/Epps are not really defending midfielders. They’ll track back on the wing but that isn’t often leading to actual defending. The big hole in the middle is Medunjanin. He would thrive in the right system with the right players around him, but under the current situation he has been hurting more than helping. Signing him for next year didn’t make sense if we’ll have the same coach and setup. The midfield battle in this game brought out many of our problems.

    • Agreed.
      Particularly with Ilson hurt, it would be interesting to see Bedoya playing right wing to help Dockal cover high and Derrick Jones playing #8 to help Medunjanin with coverage low. Since goals are few and far between from our strikers, this might also free up Bedoya some to attack more – essentially an upgraded Pontius. Fafa can play on the left side.

    • Agree 100%.

      Agasint better teams we need to be playing Jones (or Crevalle, i guess……….) at the 6.

    • Absolutely agree. I loved the guy last year, and I still respect him, but in most matches this year, what he brings is just not worth what he gives up. I was shocked, and a little dismayed, that the Union picked up his option for next year. We need to move on from him.

  9. LA Galaxy have a great coach who knows how to change formations and get wins (contrary to the Union). Note that they only had 1 loss in the last 9 games and 5 wins.
    .
    At one point they were rock bottom in their division; now they are in 4th place!

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