Photo Cred: Philadelphia Union
Flach, Gazdag, Brujo, Bedoya
Real, Elliott, Glesnes, Harriel
Sporting Kansas City
Salloi, Thommy, Walter, Russell
Voloder, Radoja, Zusi
The Union have been weathering the storm of late, and there was no exception on Saturday evening. A weather delay pushed our start time to nearly 9pm. To add some extra suspense into the match, Kai Wagner was missing from the lineup, and according to Jim, is dealing with a Grade 1 Hamstring injury (his first of his career). Matt Real earned his first start of the season, while Andre Blake returned into the net.
Hate to keep beating the same drum, but my goodness this team looks so disconnected from each other. Poor passes and turnovers allowed Kansas City to earn a handful of corners and keep possession in the Union's side of the field. One positive note was that Agada earned a yellow in the first 20 minutes, while Blake, although busy, looked sharp in his return. Specifically, he saved a point blank header to keep the Union tied 0-0. It should have gone into the net, nor did Philly deserve to be tied after this half.
A growing concern for Philly is how they're starting matches. Went down first against Columbus, Miami, Montreal, and Orlando. Almost gave up an easy goal against Chicago in the opening moments, and now looked helpless against a struggling Western Conference squad. I know the rain delay throws a bit of a wrench into the routine of the evening, but this is clearly an issue for Philly. I don't know what can fix their current form. Would hope that a change in the lineup, or even a change in the formation, would be on the table at this point.
The unorganized performance continued to the ending minutes of the first half. Each time Philly pushed it into the visiting territory, they turned the ball over. To make matters worse, Daniel Gazdag earned a very soft yellow card around the 40th minute. He and Espinoza were sprinting toward the Union goal, and their interlocked arms brought Espinoza down. It seemed that he may have slipped, but the lead official (who was getting booed heavily) did not hesitate to issue a yellow card. It's one thing to call a foul, but to immediately issue a yellow card for something so incidental is extremely poor officiating.
The left side of the pitch drove me nuts in the first half. Flach and Real both had their miscues, especially when going forward. This left Union fans and myself screaming for Andres Perea. If you watched the Across the Pitch episode from Monday, we were clamoring for Andres to get the starts he deserves. He's a two-way player who can help this midfield regain some sense of life. Unfortunately, Curtin kept Flach and the same formation entering the second half.
Second Half Summary
It took 10 frustrating minutes for Philly to show some signs of life. Brujo had a flashy bicycle clearance, Carranza had an excellent leading ball to Uhre, and Mikael's push forced Melia to come out and make a play on the ball. The Union earned their first corner around the 55th minute, and although we had a couple of strong strikes toward net, Kansas City was able to deflect our chances.
Melia continued to make plays. A very long free kick from Gazdag found the head of Matt Real, and his strike looked like it could find the back of the net. Somehow, though, Melia's outstretched save looked effortless.
I'm not going to say that the Union looked better as the half continued, but they were at least stringing together some passes and keeping the visitors closer to their keeper. Jim made his first sub just after the 60th minute. Leon Flach was replaced by Jack McGlynn. Knowing that Real isn't the same offensive production as Kai certainly made me question Jim's starting lineup. Why not Perea or even McGlynn to help generate more reliability on the left? I was happy this change was made, but would have liked to have seen it sooner.
The next sub is another frustrating moment from Philly. Mikael Uhre was replaced by Quinn Sullivan. I'm thrilled to see what Quinn can do with extended time, but why can't Mikael play 90 minutes? It is worrisome that our star forward can't stay on for the entire match. Last week we had the excuse of Uhre being sick, but why this week? It's not like Carranza played great, or has even scored since Week 1. When your backups are still young, unproven players, you need your veteran and talented forward to stay in the match.
Melia came up huge again with the 80th minute approaching. Gazdag had an impressive strike at goal, but the KC Keeper leaped and stretched to push it out of play. The chances continued though from Philly. McGlynn showed off his ability and hit a perfect pass to Julian in the box. Carranza brought it down for a strike, but the closing defender did just enough to deflect Julian's chance. With Philly desperate for a win, they continued to make their changes. Torres and Mbaizo replaced Brujo and Harriel, but neither made a significant impact. If anything, Torres blew one of the best chances of the night. Torres had a lot of space within the top corner of the box, but he tried a chip rather than a more certain strike. Not the right time to get cute.
Four minutes of stoppage time was awarded, but it didn't make much of a difference. The Union earned a point, had a shut out, but looked poor. That's probably putting it nicely. We return to the field on Tuesday night against Atlas in the CCL Quarterfinal. I would like to say I'm excited for the match, but not so much after this performance.
- Mike Barrera (Mbarrera1323)