Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-2 Portland Timbers

Photo: Rob Simmons

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Philadelphia Union were eliminated in the MLS is Back Tournament semifinals at the hands of a dominant Portland Timbers in Orlando. Despite a late goal, the Union couldn’t find a dramatic equalizer after conceding the first two goals of the match.

The 2-1 defeat was disappointing, considering it may have been Philadelphia’s worst performance of the competition. It leaves the Union still searching for their first piece of silverware in club history.

Both teams reached the semifinals of the competition with 4-0-1 records, each drawing in their final group matches.

As the adage goes, Union head coach Jim Curtin made no changes to a side which thrashed Sporting Kansas City 3-1 in the quarterfinals of the competition.

Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese conversely made two changes his starting 11 who advanced by an identical scoreline over New York City FC. Longtime talisman Diego Valeri returned to the midfield after playing a substitute role in the quarterfinal win.

The game started at a frenetic pace. Each side played positive football, willing to attack at the expense of a resulting counter.

The first true chance came through  Portland’s No. 10 Sebastián Blanco, who has two goals to go along with assists in all five games of the tournament. A wonderful attempt was equaled by goalkeeper Andre Blake, but it resulted in a corner in the 13th minute. Valeri swung in a cross, and Timber forward Jeremy Ebobisse was there to head home his fourth goal since the restart, putting Portland up early.

It was the first time Philadelphia trailed in the MLS is Back Tournament.

Showing possession is a less than adequate measure of performance, the Union controlled nearly 60% of the action. Philadelphia were disjointed in attack and unable to threaten. Portland dictated play, creating chances from Philadelphia’s sloppy passing.

The Union were given a lifeline in the first half’s first minute of stoppage time. Midfielder Jamiro Monteiro jumped for a cross in Portland’s box, but was bungled down by Blanco. Referee Allen Chapman pointed and up stepped Sergio Santos. The Brazilian striker, with three goals in his last two matches, started a slow, jangling shuffle step approach. With goalkeeper Steve Clark guessing the wrong way, Santos skied his first professional penalty over the crossbar.

It encapsulated Philadelphia’s first half of action.

With the Union chasing the match, Portland opened in a low defensive block. The Timbers dared Philadelphia to break them down while searching their own counter opportunities.

Portland made the first tactical changes of the second half in the 56th minute, and Curtin made the predictable substitution in the 59th minute. The coach called upon Ilsinho, his supersub, to find an equalizer.

Portland were untroubled.

After multiple chances to kill the game, Portland found their lethal blow in the 70th minute.  Again from a corner, center back Dario Zuparic headed down a Valeri cross. Bouncing high, an unmarked Blanco was there to beat Blake at his near post. It left the Union with 20 minutes to find two goals.

The Union found hope in the 85th minute.  Monteiro, who missed on two previous free kicks, put a third on frame. Clark made the intial save, but substitute Andrew Wooten knocked home the rebound.

A minute later, the Union thought they found an unlikely equalizer. Forward Kacper Przybylko beat Clark after dazzling in-the-box dribbling from midfielder Brenden Aaronson, but the Polish striker was a toe length offside.

The final whistle blew sending the Union back to Philadelphia one game prematurely.

As far as when they’ll play next, the Union will have to wait for an answer from the league.  A post-COVID schedule has yet to be determined by the MLS office.

Three points
  • Kryptonite. The Union are now 1-7-3 against the Timbers. Philadelphia have fared worse only against Los Angeles Galaxy, who’ve they gone 1-8-3 against.
  • A missed penalty. Santos had every right to take that penalty. It’s all about confidence, and no Union player had more than the Brazilian.
  • What’s next? Overall, the Union proved they’re a top team in MLS. When the season resumes, they should contend for the Eastern Conference top spot.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Mark McKenzie, Kai Wagner; José Martinez (Andrew Wooten 72′), Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson; Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos (Ilsinho 59′)
Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Aurélien Collin, Matt Real, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo, Anthony Fontana, Matej Oravec, Jack De Vries, Cole Turner, Michee Ngalina

Portland Timbers

Steve Clark; Chris Duvall, Larrys Mabiala, Dario Zuparic, Jorge Villafaña (Pablo Bonilla 86′); Eryk Williamson, Diego Chará, Diego Valeri (Bill Tuiloma 90’+1′), Sebastián Blanco (Felipe Mora 86′), Marvin Loria (Andy Polo 56′); Jeremy Ebobisse (Jaroslaw Niezgoda 56′)
Unused subs: Jeff Attinella, Julio Cascante, Marco Farfan, Renzo Zambrano, Cristhian Paredes, Tomás Conechny, Blake Bodily

Scoring summary
POR: Jeremy Ebobisse — 13′ (Diego Valeri)
POR: Sebastián Blanco  — 70′  (Dario Zuparic,  Diego Valeri)
PHI: Andrew Wooten — 85′

Disciplinary summary
PHI: Kai Wagner — 38′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 62′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. When a counter and transition team gives a counter and transition team the ball and dares it to figure out how to score it’s a Dooping.
    Dooping. Def. verb. the act of mischief created when sly’d by a team playing the exact way you hope to play there by highlighting the very things you don’t do well…. at all.
    Here it comes. Ready?
    It’s been mine from the beginning.
    So Union.

  2. I’ll do it guys, I’ll take the bullet and say it first:

    Can we please upgrade at RB? Gaddis is a good defender and has become a good outlet, but it’s clear good teams will game plan to let him have the ball because it dies at his feet. Nothing good happens when he has the ball. He can’t cross, he has only just learned to pass – good lord we were slathering him in praise because he received a pass in the final third and made a square pass to a midfielder in the last game! – he does not have the vision or dribbling skills – nor the offensive confidence – to try any sort of combination play or overlap or anything we need from a RB in 2020.

    Just look at what Portland did to beat us. On our left they attacked behind Wagner and got in behind him multiple times because they know he is effective going forward, and he was still able to present himself up the field and whipped in a few good crosses and other times dribbling into the middle of the field and keep possession.

    On our right? They let Gaddis have the ball. lol. Literally, I can’t be the only one who noticed how often Gaddis was open near the final third. And even then, Portland barely closed him down because they know he’s no threat.

    I just don’t know how many more times I can watch the best teams gameplan in this way and us lose because of it before I go crazy. It’s like the curse of Gaddis or something.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Whole heartedly agree and came here to post something just like this. If you’re going to key basically your entire attack down the right side, whether Ilsinho is on the field or not, it’s imperative you get a RB that can make stuff happen going forward. I love Ray as much as anyone here… I have the “If Ray scores we riot” t-shirt… dude has been a phenomenal servant to the club and league… but he should be your backup next season. You must upgrade RB, or change tactics.

      • Tells you something that Olivier Mbaizo has been unable to budge him.
        Gaddis has clearly risen to Mbaizo’s challenge.
        Jim Curtin is loyal.
        There has to be some flaw or flaws in Mbaizo’s game.

    • Agree.
      Given his age, moving Bedoya to RB might be a good move for the team and his remaining career.

    • Look I like Raymond – and I defend him here. And I recognize this.
      But please tell me how you watched that game tonight and are putting it at the feet of Ray Gaddis -which clearly it sounds as though you are- along with some others down thread.
      The entirety of the team sucked tonight got played OFF the field by a team on 48 hours less rest. If you want to play a possession game model – likely Ray isn’t your guy. If you look to transition and counter Ray is a solid contributor to the team. He’s displayed this.
      They got smoked tonight. Santos terrible. Kascper terrible. Montiero below average. Bedoya fatigued. Elliot below average. Wagner poor.
      And I’m reading about how Ray is the weak spot. Unreal.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:


      • At a certain point in the game, though, it became obvious that this wasn’t going to be a transition-and-counter game. The U would have to chase and try to create. It’s fair to ask why Gaddis was still on the pitch when they were pushing for a winner and needed a more forward-capable player in that space. That’s where he lets you down.

      • This is fine Peter and a tactical suggestion which I’m not going to fight. It’s the Ray bashing that’s misplaced.
        Keegan Rosenberg was a terrible defender – terrible to the point it cost him a starting spot -then even his spot on the team- but people loved his ability to get forward. Meanwhile for every goal he helped create he was directly or indirectly responsible for half a dozen against…. “but oh that step over move and one two with Chaco. He’s so good.”
        It’s misplaced aggression and it’s infuriating. A person can make a sound argument for five games Ray Gaddis was one of the best players on the field nite in nite out. But there’s no flash and glitz.
        It’s a league of terrible defending and people want to get rid of one of its best defenders.

      • Well I am not really blaming Ray or saying he is to blame or even he is in the top 5 of blame to go around. I’m just kinda pointing it out and saying moving forward we need to improve at this position and do better.

        The “he is a great defender, we can look past everything else” works great when you are a bad team, but to take that next step I really don’t think we can let teams continue to game plan to kill the game at the foot of our RB. It’s just tiring.

        I mean, did you enjoy the game? Did you enjoy watching Gaddis kill the game for the Timbers by playing catch with Bedoya for minutes at a time? It’s just not good man. It’s not good. I’m just tired man.

        Bedoya at RB sounds worth a try. Worked a while for Zusi. This would open up a spot at the 8 for Fontana to be able to prove something. Maybe De Vries when we need more offense.

      • Wracked Opinion says:

        With all due… and sincere respect for the earlier posters (as we’re all grieving fans at this point)… I concur with your sentiment.

        The Union made far too many mistakes and wasted too many chances to be victorious in this match.

        Gaddis was Gaddis… as he has been and will be in this system… but there were others who performed below their capability.

        I have immense respect for Curtin… in terms of his handling player relationships… but I feel his tactical approach lacks optimization of available player talent.

        This said, the team truly picked a bad game to underperform.

        In knockout tournaments such lapses… whether physical, or strategic… usually prove to be fatal.

        Of course it is easy to back seat manage… there is a reason why I’m sitting home watching… but I believe that in the long-run they seem to need a better formational approach: such to maximize their talent and team skills.

        Kacs needs to be either alone staying high… as a center forward… or a center inside with two wingers. He’s a one, two touch scorer.

        He looks out of place and out of sync together with Santos up top.

        I also think that the Union needs to play a more static… stay at home… 3-man back line and rely less on pushing Gaddis and / or Wagner forward to create offense.

        The Union seems to get disjointed in transition and the edge defenders too often get exposed trying to get back.

        I.M.H.O., the Midfielders are too often ineffective: both pushing up offensively and getting back defensively.

        Something still seems definitely amiss… despite their tournament progress, in the quest to become a championship level squad… and it remains to be seem whether they will be capped by their strategy.

        It generally evidences poor tactical adjustments when consistently losing to the same teams: although the Union definitely also physically underperformed in this match.

        But hey, what do I know…

    • PhilinWilmington says:

      Shenanigans. Everyone else has outlined why.

    • in your opinion Philadelphia has an urgent need in which position?

      • Wracked Opinion says:

        This is a great, considerate question, King!

        I wish to be able to answer this, but at this point I truly don’t know.

        I say this… not to be evasive… because I firmly believe that their fundamental system / formation is flawed: meaning not optimized for their currently rostered talent.

        So what I think about at this point is not so much immediately changing players, but prioritizing an player optimized, unifying tactical formation, plus strategies.

        Horrible defensive lapses… a consistent Union trait… and dreadful squandered offensive finishes… another consistent Union trait… led to the loss.

        It was truly a team loss: everyone… including Curtin… had a share in: just as with most team victories.

        I’ll say it all day: Gaddis is Gaddis. He is consistent and gave another consistent performance last night.

        But in this system he is used to feature / challenge his deficiencies as opposed to strengths.

        Kacs is a scorer, but not a finesse type. He is very effective at one / two touch shots, so needs to stay high and inside by formation IMHO. He has struggled mightily, but I believe formation and strategy has much to do with this.

        I just see too many players with proven skill sets being seemingly misused: resulting in inconsistent performances across the board.

        IMHO before anything, one must look at each player and make the proper evaluation of their demonstrated skill sets, plus weaknesses and then determine whether / where they can consistently effectively fit / perform optimally : and into what system.

        The folly and performance inconsistencies start early: when / once the / a system demands beyond a player’s physical performance capability and skillset.

        I love Ale, but his age is seemingly showing. Too often he looks both slow and tired for his formational positioning requirements.

        Because of midfield offensive deficiencies, the gambit of pushing Ray and Wagner forward has become entrenched in the Union system.

        Fine and dandy: all up until your wingbacks are doing 70 yard sprints to get back and then are dead tired to defend after doing so.

        Personally I’d try forming / strategically functioning in / as a 1-2-2-2-3: with Ray, Mac, plus Elliott “staying home” to anchor the back. Wagner and Martinez primarily defensive Mids. Montiero and Ale primarily offensive Mids. Put Santos and Brendan at Wings and primarily keeping Kacs high: at / in Center.

        Would / will this work?
        I have no guarantee, nor promise.

        But to me this strategic alignment and thinking at least seems to optimize the skills sets, plus perfomance capabilities and demands of the group: such to make an overall better functioning unit, with what they have.

        Then let’s see who performs consistently well… after being optimized for their capabilities… before considering personnel changes.

        Apologies for not directly answering your simple, great question, for the lengthy post and for potentially offending anyone.

        But for me… at this place and time… I see more priority in considering optimized systematic, plus tactical adjustments, rather that player replacements.

        Perhaps I’m delusional… as usual… but I truly believe that this existing group could actually become Champions if such is done and they played consistently as an optimized UNIT.

        BTW, it is going to be horrible to lose Brendan and / or Mac.

        For the life of me, I cannot fathom why… as fans… we should be ‘super stoked’ about them “… moving on to Europe: as the commentators constantly promote.

        Maybe it’s me: but a distasteful take and perspective.

        Yay: maybe we should get a trophy… or MLS award such annually… for being the best developmental farm team: in the ‘best US developmental farm league’… :-/

        Apologies for the rant.

    • Look, I get it, lots of Gaddis defenders. Interestingly no one is really talking about the on field product. If you all are ok with watching good teams gameplan the same way, and that gameplan being what we saw last night – let our RB have the ball, stay back, and watch our offense die – then I guess there is nothing else I can say that will help.

      As far as urgent need – I don’t think we have an “urgent” need. We made the semis and beat good teams. Overall we played well, are achieving Tanners vision and still have lots of room to grow.

      If I would identify our current issues right now – all relatively minor and workable, I think – in no particular order, they would be 1) Pryzblyko needs to find his form again 2) Aaronson needs to get on the ball more 3) Martinez needs to continue to learn the team – I think he gets caught upfield too much still 4) RB upgrade or at the very least we need to not allow teams to force the ball to his feet and kill the game 5) I would love to see more squad rotation out of Curtin, even if its Fontana for 10 more minutes. For the love of god, give these guys a breather

      • What does it take to break a bunker, in soccer?
        Either a group of top-flight quality players who know each other inside out from having played together for years. Or some individual capable of that single moment of incandescent brilliance.
        Like or not, we are not ever going to spend 10 years-worth of the player development budget on a year or two of such incandescence. That’s not the business plan.
        So, the question becomes how long has this attack played together? Anyone reading this knows the answer already.

    • Ok, James you’re Nit completely wrong but, Wagner was the worse of the two outside backs. His marking was pathetic and caused two goals against us. Why didn’t montiero take that PK???? Curtin needs to take more control and have more balls making decisions. Correct me if I’m
      Wrong but that was Santos’s first PK in a Union Jersey ?? If so he should not have taken it. Oh bc he was the one who was fouled he gets the PK?? Is this youth ball ??? It seems Curtin can only get us close to the finals and then gets out coached and doesn’t seem to have game changing strategies.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        It was his first PK as a professional. That being said, Curtin has made it clear that he leaves in game PK’s to the players on the field to decide and Santos volunteered. Personally, I would have liked to see Kacper step up as a chance to break his slump.

  3. DamienDeMarco says:

    Is our bench really that bad? Hell of a fight from the guys on the field but some balls and decisions that just screamed fatigue. I’m honestly asking why 2 of 5 subs were used. And it’s been a trend in this tournament.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I just saw someone on Twitter say: “Having depth and using your depth are two entirely different things.” We have some depth. Curtin doesn’t use it. I don’t get it at all. In using all their subs Portland basically made a hockey line change while we kept our guys out there cause we iced the puck and couldn’t change. (I’m a Flyers fan too)

    • I wouldn’t blame our bench at all, Curtin has always been stingy with subs and sticks with his players too long. It’s just we finally have good starters so it’s not as obvious.

    • It speaks volumes that Curtin barely rotated his squad throughout the tournament. It says Curtin doesn’t trust his bench and/or the bench isn’t good enough. Either way means trouble. If Aaronson goes kiss any hope of offense goodbye.

    • Favey-faves says:

      You’ll never find out. Coach believes in burning out those he trusts, then bringing on Ilsinho. Breaks out in a rash whenever he has to do more than that.

  4. Oof- Wagner had a really bad first half. Somewhat better in the 2nd, but he was in the middle of both goals against. I like to look at the close-up they do of the pk taker right before the kick and predict if they will make or miss. I didn’t like what I saw from Santos. He was breathing heavy and looked like he had a shot of adrenaline. Too wound up. Can’t argue with him taking it, but I would have let Przybylko have it. Oh well, pretty good tournament.

    • Wracked Opinion says:

      Hindsight is almost always 20/20, but it is fair to question having Santos take the PK: given his lack of experience and the magnitude, plus juncture of the match.

      For crying out loud, Santos didn’t even look competent… nor sufficiently skilled… when even approaching the shot.

      I agree that Kacs… or any more experienced, skilled, proven, PK scorer… seemed a more logical choice.

      Definitely “one that got away” and an unfortunate decision that will forever live in infamy, in many of our minds.

      Oh well.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Those were the two points that I wanted to make. This was possibly Wagner’s worst game with the team. The first goal was entirely his fault, not just missing his man on the corner, but also for giving the ball away that led to the shot which Blake had to deflect for the corner.
      Before the kick was taken, I was telling my wife Przybylko should take it as a way to gain back his confidence.

  5. OneManWolfpack says:

    Carbon copy of the 3-1 loss at now Subaru Park last year vs Portland. They sit. They wait. They clog the right and middle. They counter. They (almost) score. Only this time they wasted multiple chances and converted two poorly marked corner kicks. The Negadelphian in me says if Portland converts at an even slightly higher rate, we lose by multiple goals and it’s not even close.
    Union picked a bad time to play their worst game. Hell for the first 20 mins we routinely just gave them the ball. I put this on Curtin as much as anyone. He should’ve known exactly what Portland wanted to do against them. He had the blueprint. If the Union are trying different things and not succeeding… fine. To me, they just played right into Portland’s hands. Credit to Portland for having a plan and executing. But to me they didn’t do anything offensively that scared the Union. Almost every chance they got we gave to them. And Kacper wasn’t offside! Ha

  6. That was entertaining but also pure crap. Portland misses every wide open chance it has and scores two crap headers off of corners. The second goal — how is Blanco left completely unmarked? The missed corner and Monteiro’s missed free kicks. Just terrible, terrible stuff.
    Przbylko was not offside.

    • Wracked Opinion says:

      It sure looked like he was onside.

      Surely very close.

      I thought this is exactly the circumstances that video reviews were implemented for and to appropriately settle!

      Disappointing that the referee seemed to minimize the use of video review on that play.

      • I think the phrase is “Clear and obvious error” is what VAR is suppose to address. A toe length one way or the other, (or a quarter of a second on when the ball is played) doesn’t fit that definition. As much as it kills me to say so.

      • Atomic Spartan says:

        Show me an AR who can see a toe offside and I’ll show you a trigger-happy flagger. If not flagged, VAR cannot find clear and obvious

      • I completely agree, since I don’t think MLS VAR has the same quality of views and tools that the EPL has. I have to say my view of the first replay was “He was offside” Further views (especially the over head one) made me rethink. I think the crux of the whole thing is “when is the pass considered made?” when foot strikes ? when space is seen between ball and foot ? It really was that close.

  7. Gruncle Bob says:

    They didn’t play well at all, but if Sergio hits the pk they’re 1 1 at the half and don’t have to chase the game.

    It seems they attack on the right far too much.

    On Ray – it’s a salary cap league. The question is not “can we find someone better?”. Of course they can.

    The real question is”can we find someone better AT EQUAL OR LESS $ THAN WE PAY RAY?” That’s not a slam dunk easy thing to do.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Pay someone with GAM TAM SLAM whatever. It’s clearly a position of need should you want to continue to focus on making your heat map glow like the sun for the right side of the field.
      To be fair though, Ray isn’t the reason we lost. We couldn’t mark two corners, we missed a PK, and generally looked bad going forward. This game was crying out for a RB that could threaten and Ray just Ian that guy

      • I get the sentiment. In a salary budget league such as MLS it makes ZERO sense to use Garber Buck$ on outside backs. That money gets better returns being spent on creative and attacking players.

    • In two years more of us will know the name Nate Harriel.

  8. Kip Leitner says:

    Well, glad I didn’t buy a ticket to this one. We could have easily lost 4-1 or 5-2. Actually a pretty boring game.

    Union plays offense like a team coached by a defender. Curtin has everyone on the team — even the offense — drilled to pass the ball exactly to where teammates are standing still which means Portland has relatively easy job on defense. You can see Union has difficulty breaking down a well-organized defense. Really confused. Strikers still waiting for over-the-top balls — one or more of them needs to check back and touch and turn. Mark of a poor offensive strategy was we had numerous 4v5 and 5v6 and the ball moving forward quickly and everyone slows it up so we can get possession and, for what? — 6v9 against a good defensive team. That’s not how you score. It ends up with a lot of passing around the perimeter until either the ball is lost or one of our backs cannot find outlet and bombs a 50/50 ball 50 yards upfield. Again, this is not how one scores. Poor game plan — Portland is much better defense, you need to push the advantage when you have it.

    Our players fouling a lot instead of working to get in good position on/off the ball. That’s a discipline problem. As was Portland’s second goal when our #27 decides — with the ball in the air on the corner kick — to leave his man and start heading the opposite direction for a “possible” counter-attack, which never comes because the ball is headed to the man he’s supposed to be marking who scores. Half the goals in MLS are ball watching and unmarked scores, case in point.

    Yeah, need to use more subs. In the last minute of the game Pryzbylko is totally gassed and instead of crossing for a final attempt on goal passes the ball out of bounds from 7 yards away (?).

    Oh well. Flashes of brilliance by Aaronson, but he’s too quick for his skill level — ball running away from him. Union playing as a collection of players tonight instead of team. They still haven’t learned — going back at least a decade, how to work/pass/play together as a team. Guys getting stranded all the time with no one to pass to. Decisioning on the ball is too slow — players dink around on the ball until everyone is covered and then play 50/50 balls, wasting away positional advantage on attacks. Some of this was good Portland defense, but not all of it.

    Blake kept us in it, but he couldn’t do everything.

  9. In Tanner We Trust says:

    People unfairly gave Sapong no leash, while Curtin was patient, and it didn’t work out. Oh well. How long do we tolerate Przybylko’s ineffectiveness? Recall back to the LAFC game, where he was the only guy on the team who didn’t play well. I actually said around 65′ that Wooten should come in for Przybylko and that it may be necessary for him to earn his spot back. Not happy they took Martinez out, but Wooten’s goal has solidified in my mind that it should be a clean slate at striker. All 3 are too inconsistent to lock down a spot. So before we pin another loss on Ray, let’s keep in mind that the strikers completely failed to put themselves in position to trouble the keeper, let alone receive a final pass. I’m probably in the minority, but I think Kacper was offside, which is a shame because Aaronson did an amazing job to set the chance up. At the end he managed to get the ball thru FOUR Timbers defenders leaving the striker in on goal. Just a shame. Still waiting to celebrate a trophy.

  10. Well, the biggest speaking point for me is marking on set pieces and obviously corner kicks. But bottom line, we lost to a team who plays this kind of style best in MLS. And the Union just aren’t fit to expose it enough. There’s plenty of skill, but not enough top third of the field or box-awareness skill. That should be the kind of player we should be looking for after we sell Aaronson and McKenzie. There is so much to like about the Union and this team has a true identity. Can’t say that for most teams after this tournament. It was very successful despite the lack of any silverware. Stay positive Union fans.

  11. The Union are who we thought they were. Lather, rinse, repeat. They tease us, and just when the rubber meets the road, they turn into roadKILL.

    10 years of this BS.

  12. Andy Muenz says:

    At least Union II beat Red Bull II earlier in the day for their first win of the year.

    • And the oldest goal scorer was 17 years old. The second oldest held the record as youngest scorer in club history for 70 minutes. Then the game winner went in and he lost his record!

  13. Curtin must go. Teams have been give the gift of being able to make 5 subs. Curtin can’t even figure out how to make 3 effective subs. His in game management is terrible. Players are going to have off nights, and you need to be able to adjust to that. Kascper had an off tournament. Curtin should have taken him off instead of Santos. Bedoya looked dead from the start of the match. Trying to us Gaddis offensively is just dumb. He has zero talent on the ball. He try’s hard, but just can’t do it. Set piece marking was bad to say the least. I could blame that on poor coaching, but these guys are professionals and should be able to figure out how to mark a man by now. I’m extremely disappointed that the Union once again couldn’t bring us fans a trophy. I know this not a typical piece of silverware, but it could have been something to grow on.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Season is far from over. If you’d like to pin the loss on Curtin, I’ll be open-minded, but he isn’t going anywhere. He has given himself a long leash as far as soccer coaches are concerned.

    • Kip Leitnr says:

      I hear your grumble. About the marking-your-man thing, I just want to point out that American players are never going to mark well because they ball-watch far too much and this habit is picked up very early in soccer and almost impossible to change. When you’re watching the ball is when the attacker you’re marking slips away from you.

      Most MLS players from the U.S. grew up being the fastest, most athletic players on their teams. They scored goals by kick-and-run and using their speed to be first to the ball.

      It feels very weird to play defense correctly, in that most of the time you should be watching your mark with only occasional glimpses at where the ball is. Same on offense, most of your visual energy should be going into seeing where the defense is setup and figuring out how to avoid it and then exploiting the open space patterns. If you watch star soccer players on both offense and defense you will see they spend a lot less time watching the ball than everyone else and far more time (on offense) figuring out how to exploit the space and overload areas of the field and on defense getting inside the shirts of their attacking players.

      People don’t realize how important this is. A player who turns his head for 2 seconds to watch the ball cannot mark well. Give me a two-second head start and Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt and I would cross the finish at the same time on a 100m sprint. That’s why speed is overrated.

      It’s very hard to retrain these mental habits because they are wired in at the neurological level to players. Having said that, the best coaches knows how to do this, but it takes special training methods. You can’t just tell your players to mark better, you have to practice players with their eyes closed, reaction time training, stuff like this, not easy. The first step is to have players watch film and NOT WATCH the ball, but follow a certain player around on the field. Try this sometime — watch a soccer game and take 10 minutes of a game and just follow a single player with you eyes and notice how he plays. The first thing you’ll feel is this almost instinctive urge to want to know where the ball is. Resist this urge and just follow the player, and you’ll get some idea of how weird it feels to not know where the ball is.

      The same is true in Hockey and the puck, where Wayne Gretsky said the most important thing is knowing not where the puck is now, but where it’s going to soon be. So if you have someone like Aaronson bombing down the wing 1v1 on a defender, you should be sprinting to the box, because with his speed/skill, you know a cross is coming. With a lesser player, you should go to support — stuff like this.

      • Best part is the ball watching players become ball watching coaches then pick talent based on the only thing they see, which is industry around the ball.
        This is not an exaggeration.

      • Wracked Opinion says:

        A fantastic, astute analysis and presentation Kip!

        Back in the covered wagon days… when I played… our coach would do daily “freeze scrimmage” segments: so to create and coach both positional and man-ball awareness.

        He’d observe practice live scrimmage play and blow the whistle when unproductive, poor, incorrect circumstances were… such as ball-watching, undisciplined positioning and thoughtless / non-existing runs occurred in game.

        You froze: and he would then address, question and coach each player as to what they were doing, where, how and why.

        Soccer is an amazing game in its subtlety and requirement / demand for both thought and discipline to be a truly consistent effective player.

        It is a thinking person’s game… more than any other… as one cannot run full bore for 45 straight minutes, nor 90 minutes per game.

        So strategic thought, plus discipline (beyond the necessary obvious excellent conditioning) is required… beyond physical skills and ability such to succeed.

        Players must learn and be coached how to be maximally productive with their skills… while managing both their acute and overall game energy limitations… optimally, ultimately within a club’s system.

        This is why both good coaching, plus thoughtful managing are necessary for success.

        Thanks for your insight!

  14. well that game plan asked a hell of a lot of ray. once we conceded and it was clear that portland was content defending a one goal lead, we looked like fools. heartbreaking PK miss for SS who’s confidence and joy seem tied to his positive performance. disappointed in monteiro for not taking it. Cannot believe Blake is continuing his hot streak! hope we get to play another game soon…. 2/5 subs is not enough when players like bedoya are gassed before half time. The only positive other than blake’s hot streak and elliots goal line clearance is that wooten showed something

  15. any updates on Burke? am I the only one yearning to see him play with Santos and Aaronson?

  16. Man, oh man, is this style of play Union kryptonite. Luckily, not many MLS teams play it well, but when they do, we struggle. With respect to some of the comments above, this didn’t look like a team that is a right-back upgrade away from cracking the bunker-and-counter code. That said, I too was puzzled that we didn’t consider subbing Ray off, particularly given Curtin’s comments at the water break that they were (of course) planning to leave the CBs isolated and push the outside backs high. Why not add Fontana, who has goals in him, and let Bedoya continue to play high up the right side? That was basically what Bedoya had been doing the whole game anyway; he and Ray had almost identical heat maps in this one.
    I was a little disappointed we didn’t get Aaronson on the ball a bit more. He always has the possibility of a brilliant creative moment in him, as he showed with the almost-assist at the end, but he had fewer touches than any outfield player except the strikers (only 32 touches the whole game; compare to Monteiro’s 87). Still, some credit probably has to go to Portland for making marking him out of the game part of their strategy.
    Positive point: I was happy for Wooten get off the mark. I’d like to think that will give him a little boost, but tough to say with still not having a schedule for continuing the season. Hopefully MLS can figure out a way to safely resume the regular season shortly after this tournament is over.

  17. Atomic Spartan says:

    How in the world does an AR ever see that a toe is offside? That was much too close to call and if he does not make the call, VAR would not have found “clear and obvious” offside. But we were playing vs a darling of the league so of course we don’t get the benefit of the doubt.

  18. Atomic Spartan says:

    Riddle me this: if U marked corners the way they should have, do they win the game?

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Portland is so much more lethal when leading, so it wouldn’t be a stretch. If we take the lead first, it’s a 180° switch.

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