Sunday, April 15, 2012

Philadelphia Union vs. Cloumbus Crew Recap

Well I was wrong. And I was wrong on a lot of things. First of all, I thought Danny Mwanga would start up top with Lionard Pajoy. He didn't Nowak went with yet another formation. I also thought that the Union offense would find a way to open up the scoring again, but they didn't. Not that the game was a poor effort. Far from it in fact.

First off, lets give kudos where they are deserved. Even with a pregame injury to Captain Danny Califf, the back line performed well for the Union. The Crew created a couple of tense moments, but the Union defensively are looking better every game. Whether this is a function of playing with 4 instead of 3 on the backline, or shaking off the rust a weak preseason didn't, I couldn't tell you. But I do know that the Union defense has pitched 2 straight shutouts, and they look like they are spoiling for a fight.

And Zack MacMath has performed well too. I think the defense and MacMath are complementing each other well. When MacMath knows he has quality on the line in front of him, he plays better. He makes gutsy calls in net, and comes off his line to make key saves. Against Vancouver, he stopped Le Toux on two occasions, and he continued this trend against the Crew, coming off his line to make a fantastic save. So defensively, the Union are looking more and more like the Beast of the East they were last season. And boy do the Union need it.

Because the offense can't produce. The midfield performed better this week. There is no denying that. Crosses were on point, through balls were so close. But the Union offense just cannot seem to put the ball in the back of the net. Gomez scored his second goal of the season on a PK that was just pretty to watch if you were a Union fan. But the Union continue to be unable to produce a goal in the run of play. And I can't for the life of me figure out why. Because they had chances in this game.

Pajoy had a beautiful ball come to him in the area, he played it off his chest, but couldn't settle it for a shot. Michael Farfan split defenders to take a shot that curled just wide of the post. And Adu sent a beautiful cross off his left foot to a streaking Keon Daniel who headed the ball just over the crossbar.  So the chances are there. And just like last season, the Union can't seem to finish them. Defensively, this team is beginning to return to their form last season. Unfortunately, the offense is doing the same thing.

So what can they do to convert these chances? I wish I knew. I think Peter Nowak would like to know too. Because the Union are taking chances. The defense is stopping balls. the midfield is feeding the balls in to the area, and putting players in good position. And players are taking shots. Pajoy is trying, Farfan is trying, it's clear the effort is there. No one is denying that. This team does not look like they did at the start of the season. But the finishing isn't. And they won't be able to take that next step until the goals start coming.

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