Thursday, May 10, 2012

Philadelphia Union vs. Schalke 04 Recap

So they won. And the Union improved to 4-0-0 in friendlies at PPL Park. And we saw something from the Union that we haven't seen in a long time. Attacking soccer. And guess what? It works!! Especially when you play the young guys! I'm not sure if Union fans remember what a goal celebration looks like, but here's a reminder.

So what does this tell us about the Union? Besides the fact that they can score, despite their season thus far? That Nowak is right and wrong. He's right when it comes to youth. For the second time in as many years, the Union faced off against a powerhouse European team, and had their youth do them proud. Last year, the friendly against Real Madrid showcased Union youth. In the second half, against Real's starters, the Union youth held stars like Ronaldo scoreless, and notched a tally of their own. And yesterday, against Schalke, Union youth again showed their quality. Mwanga had a near miss, and Hoffman scored. Keon Daniel played well yesterday. So Nowak is right. Youth is the future for the Union.

So how is Nowak wrong? Because despite the fact that he preaches to the fanbase youth and attacking soccer, he doesn't manage that way. Does youth make a showing? Sure. You have the Farfan brothers, and you see Keon Daniel and Freddy Adu in the midfield. But do you see Hoffman, Mwanga, McInerney  up top? No. You see Lionard Pajoy struggling to figure out which direction is up when he plays lone striker. I know that isn't what he normally plays, but at some point he has to figure out how to create something. Or else Nowak needs to change his strategy.

And one more thing. I know there have been rumors about Raul coming to play for the Union. Would that be a good thing? Of course! The leading scorer in Real Madrid history is always a nice edition to have for a team. But even if the Union do land Raul, will he turn the team around? There's no guarantee. Unless the Union can play a game more like what we saw last night and less like what we've seen all season, it's going to be a long summer. Because even if you lose, if they play like the did yesterday, they'll go down fighting.

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