How did I feel after yesterday’s draw? Not terrible to be honest. The team played far better (defensively at least) than it had all season. While Sebastien Le Toux had a couple opportunities to slip behind the defense he wasn’t able to get one in the net, despite having a couple good chances. Hell, even Peter Nowak was up and yelling at the team instead of sitting there the entire time. Yesterday’s effort was hopefully a sign that the team is starting to put things together
But before you think I’m being all warm and fuzzy and overlooked things, notice that I said “starting” to put things together.
You do not want to “start” gelling as a team during the season, which means that by the time your guys “get it” it will be too late to make the playoffs.
Now, you might be accusing me of looking a point in the mouth and maybe you’re right, however, let’s look at some results from around the league of teams that we’ll be playing soon.
New York beat Montreal, 5-2, Columbus beat Toronto, 1-0, New England freaking NEW ENGLAND beat Los Angeles, 3-1. DC beat Dallas, 4-1.
Now, some of you might be saying, “Well, Montreal is an expansion franchise so New York crushing them shouldn’t matter and Toronto has a worse record then we do,” and hey, you might be right about the Montreal thing. However, the week before that New York absolutely knocked the crap out of Colorado, 4-1. Remember Colorado? The team that beat us 2-1 in our home opener? Yes, they were smashed 4-1 by a team that we will be playing three times this year. Toronto also has the excuse of being involved in the CCL so obviously their attention is focused elsewhere rather than MLS.
So while a draw was…“okay” it’s not exactly a good sign. Vancouver came into the match with an injury report seven players long, missing their DP forward and their rookie forward who showed quite a bit of speed in the preseason against other MLS competition. I know some people are celebrating the Union getting the first point of the season, but perspective needs to be maintained here. Vancouver wasn’t traveling with one of their biggest scoring threats as well as the sub that they could have used off the bench to put the game away in the latter half of the match.
The team played decently…but unfortunately, the rest of the Eastern conference is showing signs that they’re playing better right now. We have a point, which puts us on par with Montreal, the expansion club that two paragraphs ago you might have said, “Well Montreal sucks so a big win against them doesn’t count.”
I’m happy that the team held defensively, I’m happy that we got our first point of the year. However, I’m still upset because in many ways the team blew its chance to take three points from the match.
So, in keeping with the theme that I decided to set up, let me go through the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of yesterday’s match.
Was probably the Union player of the game for me, in the 15th minute, Sebastien Le Toux got a nice little pass from Atiba Harris. Le Toux had no one in front of him except for our GK who came flying out of the box and slid into the ball and Le Toux, ending the attack. MacMath also made a one handed save and throughout the match kept Vancouver off the scoreboard. A solid performance from MacMath.
Finally the defense gets stingy. It was also good to see our guys playing hard and not giving the Whitecaps many easy chances. Also, Califf and Valdes both nearly had goals which was good to see, especially from Califf.
I have to give props to Peter Nowak for this.
I’ll pause so you can recover your socks that I have no doubt just blown off.
I said in a previous article that Lopez hasn’t impressed me and he saw just 45 minutes in this game. After the break he was taken off in exchange for Michael Farfan with Gabriel Farfan being slotted back into the LB role that he occupied last season. Furthermore, Hoffman was brought off in the 51st minute in exchange for Jack McInerney, once again a solid substitution. The Mwanga sub was a bit too late for my taste (the 86th minute) so Danny doesn’t have the time to really try and impose himself on the game. But overall not a bad strategy from Nowak.
Who is Elias Bazakos? Well, for starters he is “The Bad” in the picture I made. More specifically he was the ref for yesterday’s game. I think we can all agree that the refereeing was consistent, but I think most of us can agree that the refereeing was consistently bad. Now, I’m a fan of letting the players play and only calling egregious fouls, however, Bazakos couldn’t seem to decide when to blow on his whistle or swallow it. The first big call that should have been a card is when Sheanon Williams had the ball and was trying for an attack down the right side of the field, all of a sudden, one of Vancouver’s players slide tackles Williams from behind, I don’t know who and the replays don’t show the tackle. The ref called the foul, however he didn’t give the card despite the fact that the tackle was from behind Williams. The entire match he seemed to award fouls when there was little contact and let play go on when there were larger ones. I’m not even accusing him of bias towards either team, he just flat out sucked.
The Union’s Shooting Skills
Keon Daniel became my poster child for this. At one point in the second half, Daniel had the ball in Vancouver’s box. He could’ve fired one off, hoping for a lucky strike, or even a rebound. What did he do?
He tried to dribble the ball some more into the box.
This is something I’ve been noticing about our midfielders and forwards this season. They very rarely ever just pull the trigger; they are always trying to be in that perfect position that never happens. Virtually every forward and midfielder did this at some point during the game. It’s getting very annoying and my voice box won’t be able to withstand much more screaming at the team during the game to “SHOOT THE BALL!”
I understand that you’re trying for the “sure thing” however; a lucky goal or a rebound goal counts the same as one that you beautifully dribbled into the box and slipped past the keeper.
Sebastien Le Toux
Yup, Le Toux gets it here. Not for anything during the game, oh no. But what he said before the game. Specifically this quote when asked about shaking hands with Peter Nowak, “No. No, I will not shake his hand. For me, I forgive pretty easy and I forgive (Nowak) for how the thing happened. But I cannot forget.”
Look Sebastien, this isn’t something deadly serious. This is professional sports. Peter Nowak traded you to another team. He didn’t slaughter your family or anything like that. I understand that the sale of you was very acrimonious but really? You would refuse to shake the guy’s hand? Come on dude, your team was 2-0-1 coming into this game. The Union were 0-3-0. Your team is doing better than ours, take pleasure in that at least. No one is asking you to take the guy out to dinner and make out with him, just shake his hand, hell; you can smile at him and think of how badly you’re going to kick our team’s ass while you do so.
Finishing this thing up, I want to say that I’m happy the team played like well…a team should. We should’ve gotten three points but that’s life. Nowak and company have a bye week in which they need to get this team working together, I think that if the team comes out firing against Columbus we can put this winless streak behind us and start being the team that we were supposed to be when the season started.