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Philadelphia Union v. Seattle Sounders–Live blog

Okay guys, here we go.

Philly Union v. Seattle Sounders live commentary after the jump.

Final: A hard loss but not a surprising loss. The Union came out of the gates well for a young expansion, holding possession for much of the first 12 minutes. The Sounders’ first goal came against the run of play. The Union’s worrisome yellow-card magnetism ultimately cost them, however. Once Toni Stahl received his second yellow the game was pretty much over.

Are there any postivies to be taken from the match? Absolutely. First, we got to see the Union play. What fans wanted was a team, and that’s we got today. That should be enough to make any Union fan happy with the day’s events.

But there are also other things to be happy with today. The Union’s youth contingent did well. Mwanga started fine but disappeared as the first half went on. Roger Torres was a revelation and never really seemed to tire–in fact, I’m a little surprsied Nowak took him off in the second half. McInerney and Okugo also looked good in their brief time.

Things to worry about? Aside from the yellow cards/red cards, we now have two vacancies in our back line for the next game (unless Myrie recovers from his injury). That is a tough, tough task for an expansion side that lacks depth. Orozco was OK in midfield but I’d rather see him as a CB or LB.

Le Toux was active up front but his final pass/touch failed him on multiple occasions. His partner, Moreno didn’t much all game. This team needs a franchise striker. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing McInerney starting up front next game. The kid scores goals.

Final thoughts? Keep your chin up, Union fans. It is a long, long season. The guys showed some real potenital on the pitch today. Once the opening match jitters get cleansed from the system–and Fred and Shea Salinas return in week two–we could be in store for some good soccer in the coming weeks.

***

92′: Game over. Seattle wins 2-0. Post-game analysis in a couple of minutes.

90′: McInerney was waiting for his first MLS goal at the top of the box but Le Toux didn’t see him, lost possession.

86′: Another yellow, this one for Moreno.

81′: Myrie was the sub for McInerney. Not sure yet what the formation is.

78′: Jack McInerney on! Here come the goals. Let’s get one from midfield Baby Jack.

76′: No sub for Myrie yet. Union playing 9 v 11.

75′: Myrie down. Holding his knee.

71′: Okugo on for Torres

70′: Okugo preparing to come on.

65′: AmI the only one who’s been totally unimpressed by Moreno? Has he done much at all? Le Toux has been all over the place, but Moreno just hardly seems to be on the pitch.

63′: Wow. Myrie takes out Zakuani. That was a”stop running so damn fast!” tackle. Yellow card for Myrie. Big surprise.

58′: My bold prediction: if Jack McInerney sees the field, he will score a goal. Also, Ljungberg looks hurt. Will likely come off.

55′: Seitz comes crashing out of the box. Risky but it works. Zakuani misses the open net from 30 yards out.

50′: Migli on for Mwanga. I expected it to be Le Toux, but not surprised. Mwanga looked a little out of his element after the first ten minutes or so. He needs to adapt to the speed of MLS.

49′: The Sons of Ben are still singing loud and proud. Good to see and hear.

45′: Here we go again. Long, long road back if the Union are to salvage anything here.

Halftime: What have we learned so far from the first ever half of Philadelphia Union soccer? Cards, cards, cards. We got too many of them in the presason, and we’ve gotten too many of them in the first half of this game. Stahl needed to be more careful–the ref showed early that he was more than happy to dispense with cards.The defense has been disappointing, and unable to keep up with the speed of Seattle’s counter attack (and regular attack). Part of this can be blamed on first game jitters, part of it on inexperience playing together, and part of it on mistakes. Both goals have come from David Myrie’s side of the field. I’ll be keeping a close eye on his play in the second half.

But there are positives. Roger Torres looks phenomenal for an 18-year-old. Mwanga has shown skill, but hasn’t gotten into the rythm of the game, and more-or-less disappeared as the half continued. Le Toux looks dangerous, but his final touch, or pass, has failed him on multiple occasions. What impressed me most, however, was the first 12 minutes or so. The team clearly can play. We all knew the first game in Seattle, against one of the best teams in the league, would be difficult. But there is definitely potential in what we’ve seen.

Things to look for? I think the defense will stay the same. Expect Migli on for Le Toux, and eventually McInerney on for Moreno. But…then again, Nowak likes to read my mind, and then do the opposite. So maybe we’ll see JT Noone come on for Califf.

44′: Goal Montero: Alonso’s awkward shot just reaches Montero at the far post. Seitz cleared the corner but not far enough.

41′: Orozco drops back to CB. I assume Le Toux will pull back to right mid and Torres will pull inside. Moreno will stay alone up top.

40′: Stahl’s second yellow for a foul on Moreno. Just erased the good he had been doing. Remember my presason warning about red cards?

39′: Our man Nowak is no sweat suit Brandley. Our man has style. And he’s a mean SOB.

38′: Le Toux scores! . . .  but is offside.

33′: Torres looks good.

32′: SAVE Seitz! Montero hits one right to him off a Ljungberg corner. That was close

28′: Just to be clear (I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet): Orozco is starting at d-mid, Stahl is at CB.

25′: Stahl with a sliding save. The rookie is looking good so far.

24′: Ljungberg gets crunched. Yellow card for Stahl. We are winning on yellow cards. Ljungberg’s holding his back, but no contact made. <–let me correct that, his back wasn’t hit in the tackle. Just his legs.

20′: Jacobson with a big miss. Whoops. They get one, we get one. Er, they miss one, we miss one.

19′: Le Toux almost sneaks one in but can’t get the final shot off.

16‘: Big wiff from Levesque. The Union has to ride out this wave of Seattle pressure if they’re going to have a chance in this game.

Myrie looked suspect on that one to me. Did not close down the ball fast enough.

12′: Goal Evans. Seattle scores against the run of play. Bad luck for the Union, good play up front by Seattle. The guys need to keep their head in the game. They’ve been playing well and need to keep it up.

10′: Torres looks good on the ball too. I’m liking what I see from the youngsters.

6′: Great shot from Orozco! Impressive opening from the Union. Good possession game. The d is doing well to support the offense and add pressure up front.

5′: The boys are passing well early. Orozco coming forward well.

3′: Mwanga has a sweet touch. Early on you can see why he can play in the middle of the field.

2′: Seattle free kick blocked.

1′:Yellow card for Califf for a foul on Montero. We’re living up to the pre-season so far!

0′: And we’re off! ESPN has Mwanga in the midfield. Whaaaat???

Pre-game: No big names Alexi? Califf, Orozco, Seitz?

Pre-game: Soccernet fail! The main story on Soccernet is not Philly v. Seattle. C’mon guys. Nothing else is happening right now!

Pre-game: Loving the Charlie Davies vids.

Pre-game: Ives had this to say:

“Looking at Philly’s lineup, I really do think they’re a DP away from being able to move past a few teams in the East. Their defense should be strong and if Seitz lives up to the hype, they will be tough to score on.”

Totally agree (as I mentioned–more or less–in my predictions earlier today). My guess is that the team is planning on getting a big name DP over the summer–in particular a striker.

Pre-game: Alexi Lalas thinks the league would have survived a strike. Ha.

Pre-game: Seattle’s lineup:

————-Montero———Levesque————-

Zakuani————-Ljungberg—————-Evans

———————–Alonso————————-

Gonzalez——Hurtado—–Marshall———Scott

———————–Keller————————-

It will be a rough day for the Union’s midfield today. Can Stahl and Jacobson contain Ljungberg and Alonso?

Pre-game: And we’re live! Well, I was already live. Now ESPN2 is.

Pre-game: A very interesting lineup for Nowak. I can almost guarantee that is nothing at all what Sigi Schmid was expecting. A lot of pressure on the two 18-year-olds, Mwanga and Torres, tonight. I’ll add that the absence of Shea Salinas and Fred is probably a big part of why that midfield is so surprising. In the preseason Salinas often played on the left, with Torres (or Le Toux…) on the right.

Pre-game: The Union’s lineup:

————–Mwanga———-Moreno—————

Torres——————————————LeToux

——————Stahl—–Jacobson——————

Harvey——–Califf——-Orozco————Myrie

———————-Seitz—————————–

Surprises? Lots. Stahl and Jacobson as D-Mids in a 4-4-2, Mwanga starting up front, Myrie starting at right back, no Migli, no Thomas.

Pre-game: Q: When Peter Nowak realizes his players will no longer be anonymous, will he force all his players to wear bags over their heads?

Pre-game: The leaked line-up for the Union was:

———————————-Seitz———————————–

Orozco————Thomas———-Califf————–Harvey

———-R. Torres———Okugo——–Miglioranzi———-

Zimmerman———————————————Le Toux

——————————–Moreno——————————–

I’m not sure about Okugo starting in the middle. An 18-year-old? I’d rather see Migli and Stahl.

Pre-game: Watching Syracuse lose right now. That’s a pre-game bummer. Let’s hope the Union (and Cornell) make me feel better.

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  1. Stoehrst
    March 26, 2010 at 4:17 am

    I have to say, the most worrying thing for Philly is the way Nowak just seemed to totally misuse what was available to him. Stahl may be capable of playing CB but he’s a natural defensive mid. Conversely, Orozco may be capable of playing holding mid but he’s a natural center back. Why swap them? To me, that’s a massive gaffe on Nowak’s part. Instead of having two players in their comfort positions in a game where you’re starting a team full of rookies and teenagers, you contribute to the madness by playing them out of position. He did the same to Mwanga. Danny is a striker, and instead was being told to play in a creative midfield role. He looked lost for the entire 45 minutes he was on the pitch, like he wasn’t sure what his responsibilities were. Alejandro Moreno is a guy who’s not unused to playing in the hole behind the strikers, so why wouldn’t you have Mwanga partnering Le Toux up front with Moreno behind and Torres/Jacobson on the wings? I was disappointed to see such poor decision-making from Nowak in just their first match.

    On the other hand, Jack Mac was absolutely buzzing for the few minutes he was on. Kid craved the ball, looked dangerous, and brought a spirit that I think went right out of the Union after the first goal. He should start next week, without a doubt.

  2. K.M. Morris
    March 26, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Hey Stoehrst,

    Great comment. I didn’t want to criticize Nowak’s lineup or substitutions because, to be honest, I simply hadn’t seen the players enough.

    But I think you’re right on this one.

    Moreno was ineffective at the top of the field, and needed to be pulled back more. Mwanga, at 18, in an unfamiliar position, had little chance to get into the game (I was still impressed by his first touch, at least). The Orozco decision seemed bizarre to say the least. He did fine in a central midfield role but, after the red card, when he was pulled back to CB, the defense seemed a lot less shaky. And why not start Miglioranzi at mid, bench Stahl, and play Orozco at CB?

    So, you’re right. And it is a little worrisome. But I think a big part of the problem was the absence of Fred and Shea Salinas. I think Nowak may have just out-thought himself.

    I’m not ready to lay on the criticism yet, though. We’ll see how the next few games go.

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