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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Union 0-4 Columbus: Initial Impressions

Somehow, thoroughly uninspiring just doesn’t quite say it all. Let’s put it this way: The Union were lucky that Columbus didn’t put up a football score – American football, mind you – Wednesday, such was the disparity between the two sides in the Crew’s 4-0 win at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic.

Some observations:

- OK, no one go for the lifeboats just yet. Manager John Hackworth had reason to field a young side (essentially the third team on the depth chart) in the first of three games in four days. But the Crew also didn’t play their first-teamers, and the result was still unduly lopsided. For guys fighting for possible MLS contracts, it was a disappointing, unspirited performance.

- Let’s get the positives out of the way quickly. Leo Fernandes was lively in the midfield, though he needs to work on hitting the target with greater regularity. Don Anding sent in a few dangerous crosses in the second half that no one seemed to get on the end of. And Roger Torres again sparked strong play when introduced in the second half. Yeah, that’s it.

- Now for reality. Another defensive unit, another poor showing. Eric Schoenle and Greg Jordan were burnt twice before Damani Richards came on to pair with Schoenle … and get burnt twice. They were completely overmatched. Eddie Gaven must have been salivating like a dog in a butcher shop when he entered at halftime, and he helped create two goals inside of eight minutes. Schoenle and a nothing-to-write-home-about Chase Harrison were beaten on the first goal by Ryan Finley, and the fourth goal was scored by Aaron Schoenfeld, left in acres of space at the far post on a cross. Poor.
- Former Columbus defender and current Union tralist Shaun Francis started in defense – not Ray Gaddis, as the team had originally reported. Willing to bet the Crew are feeling pretty good about the decision to waive him last summer.

- Michael Lahoud started in the midfield. At least that’s what the team sheet said. Not a lot of evidence on the tape to suggest he was out there.

- Ditto Jimmy McLaughlin, who I suppose was withdrawn at some point.

- Chandler Hoffmann and Antoine Hoppenot didn’t provide much in attack. Hoffman should’ve scored on a great chance created by Torres late on. Hoppenot's biggest contribution was a yellow card for an overzealous challenge on the goalkeeper. Not much in the way of creativity.

- A bunch of other guys you’ve never heard of played. Heck, I’ve never heard of some of the trialists, and I don’t think there names will come up after the next week or so.

- I’m tired of hearing about Jordi Vidal, the Union’s 21-year-old trialist who used to be part of the Real Madrid youth system. If he’s fallen from the heights of Europe’s elite to being on trial with an MLS club, I think that’s a decent gauge of his talent.

- With the reserves, Hackworth is looking for players to integrate into the first team. He should keep looking. Schoenle is still a ways away as is Anding. There’s not much good you can say for Stephen Okai’s performance as the holding midfielder for a team that conceded four goals. Hoffmann and McLaughlin didn’t make particularly compelling cases either. Those “second-teamers” for the Union, the likes of Gaddis, Torres, Keon Daniel, Jack McInerney and others, appear to be safe in their positions.

- If the first team comes out and lays another egg either Friday or Saturday against Montreal or Toronto, respectively, then it might be time to worry because there were no ready-made reinforcements on the field Wednesday.

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