Blogs > Union Tally

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. Read more »

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Columbus Crew preview: Back at it

When the Union clash with the Columbus Crew Wednesday afternoon (kickoff at 1 p.m. available online at, they should see plenty of similarities in the yellow-clad team on the other side of the pitch.

After all, both are hard at work incorporating a bevy of new players into their scheme this offseason. The Crew, though, have had a little more practice at it.

Wednesday represents Columbus’ fifth preseason game, including a 1-0 win in their Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic over Toronto FC. But there are red flags for the team that finished sixth in the Eastern Conference standings last year to be wary of.

For one, they’ve scored only four goals in four games; only two have come from open play, including a perfectly executed corner kick from the foot of playmaker Federico Higuain to the head of new Brazilian defender Glauber against Toronto.

The Crew get an added edge with the return of Costa Rican international Jairo Arrieta from a national team camp with his county and venerable MLS stalwart Eddie Gaven from the birth of his second child.
Read more »

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Union 1-1 Orlando: Some initial impressions

Saturday’s meeting with Orlando City was the Union’s preseason opener, and boy did it look like it. Only a Leo Fernandes goal in the 75th minute salvaged a point for the Union at the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic, the third straight preseason that they’ve failed to beat Orlando City.

Here is the nuts-and-bolts recap on the site, but a few extra observations if I may.

- I’ve been impressed by Fernandes through the preseason. He has an eye for goal and a clinical finish that’s evident even in training, and it’s nice to see it translate into the games. His goal was a thing of beauty. Roger Torres chipped a beautiful pass over the defense, which Fernandes touched down and fired home. We’ll see if there’s a place on this team for the Supplemental Draft pick out of Stony Brook – though playing regularly at a lower level may be more beneficial – but he’s certainly made an impact.

- After weeks of writing and talking about his 4-3-3 formation, manager John Hackworth went with the 4-4-2 that he professed an attraction to last season and seemed on paper to better fit this squad. The first 60-some minutes of Saturday’s game begged to differ. The team lacked any sort of cutting edge, disjointed in attack and at the back. We’ll write it off to early-season issues … for now.

- Jeff Parke spent most of the preseason working out with the U.S. National team. Amobi Okugo spent most of it in the midfield. When the two were paired in central defense, the divergent training habits were obvious. There was no rapport between them, Parke often venturing out wide and Okugo left to cover in the center, and the opportunities exploited by Orlando City were myriad. Long Tan had a field day, and he’s unlucky not to have scored, coming closest in the 59th minute before he was surprisingly withdrawn just past the hour mark.
Read more »

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Orlando City preview: And so it begins

Opening up with a lower-division side may not be the cakewalk it appears on paper. That’s a phenomenon with which the Union are all too familiar when it comes to Orlando.

Saturday marks the third meeting between the clubs, and the Union own an 0-1-1 against their USL Pro foes. The 2011 meeting ended in a 1-0 Orlando City win, thanks in large part to an early red card received by Carlos Valdes. Danny Califf’s goal off a Gabriel Gomez cross (remember them?) was nullified by a late equalizer from Orlando City in a 1-1 draw.

So what to expect this time out? Union manager John Hackworth will have his team ready for a challenge in an MLS-type atmosphere.

“We have the good fortune to have a good relationship with Orlando City, and they are a really good professional organization. I think there’s an obvious reason that the MLS is considering them for a franchise here,” Hackworth said in his weekly conference call Wednesday. “They have great fan support, and the team and the coaching staff do a fantastic job and we’ve obviously been tested both times we’ve played down here. We think that will carry on Saturday, which we’re looking forward to. We want to be challenged, we want to be frustrated.”
Read more »

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Union release 2013 television agreements

The Union released broadcast details for the 2013 season, and it’s more of the same in terms of the networks, though there are some changes in the broadcast booth.

The Union will continue with 6abc as its official broadcast partner, though it will televise just three games this season. The Comcast networks, CSN and TCN, will air 20 matches while the Live Well Network (I have no idea where on the dial that is and I watch a fair amount of TV) will air the April 6 match against Columbus.

There have been some substitutions as far as who’ll do the broadcasting, though. Revered play-by-play man JP Dellacamera returns, but his new color commentary partner will be former Union forward Alejandro Moreno. Moreno, who scored 52 goals in 272 MLS matches over 11 years, will replace Bob Rigby. The Venezuelan striker spent the 2010 season in Philadelphia, with which he scored two goals and seven assists.

“We are very excited about our expanding team of broadcast professionals and looking forward to what will be a new look and format to Union broadcasts,” Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz said. “We've listened to our viewers and have worked very hard in the offseason to provide the best possible viewing experience for Union fans.”

The studio pre- and post-game shows will be hosted by Tony Limazri, who will be joined by former Philadelphia Kixx goalkeeper Peter Pappas. Union Academy Director Iain Munro will make guest appearances on both.

The hit TV shot “State of the Union” will continue to air bi-weekly on Friday nights.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

MLS enjoys an impressive close to the transfer window

It’s been an international transfer window book-ended by attention for MLS.

Days before the window opened, FIFA president Sepp Blatter made headlines by swiping at MLS’ progress, both in the world of soccer and the American mainstream.

“It is a question of time, I thought – we had the World Cup in 1994,” Blatter said Dec. 30. “But it is now 18 years in so it should have been done now. But they are still struggling. … There is no very strong professional league (in the U.S.). They have just the MLS but they have no professional leagues which are recognized by the American society.”

As with most of the hot air emanating from the Swiss exec, Blatter’s withering criticism didn’t make way for facts. The dealings in the transfer window didn’t seem to want to follow Blatter’s paradigm either. So a month on from Blatter’s blithering assertions, MLS has shown itself to be a chic marketplace for big European clubs to do their shopping. Read more »

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