Sit down class, I SAID SIT. DOWN. Now that we’ve got everyone in here, let’s start out with Math, not Algebra or anything, oh no, we’re keeping it simple today, today everyone we’re going to start out with numbers, this is going to be FUN! So here we go, let me write this on the board.
I’m just gonna let that sit there for a moment, let you all breathe it in. Stare at those three numbers; embrace them, because that’s our record right now. You want some more numbers? How about these babies, 19 to 6 and 6 to 1, in case you’re wondering what in the hell those numbers are, they are in order, the attempts on goal of each team, and the second set are the shots on target from the Seattle game. In both cases, Seattle had the higher number in both sets.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, let me just flat out tell you. Seattle managed more shots on goal than our team could attempt, the entire freaking game.
You happy with that? You content? Let me throw some more numbers at you.
18 to 10 and 7 to 2
Those are the same statistics (Shot attempts and shots on target) except those are the numbers for the San Jose game. The Union “just” only was able to avoid giving away more shots on target than they were able to take period.
So yes, even at home, our team can’t generate much offense. Now, this is a more recent development and some of you might start quoting last season through the first few games how the team didn’t generate much offense, however, because I’m being a numbers dick so far in this article, I’m going to throw out some more numbers at you.
What is that? It’s the total losses we had all last season. If you go back up and stare at the numbers I started out this article with, we’re now over half way to our loss total from last season.
You pleased yet?
Well how about another question. What would you argue is a forward’s primary job?
“Score goals!” you might yell back happily. Yes indeed my little ducklings, yes indeed. So let’s look at some numbers and then I promise, I promise we’re done with the numbers and can go out for some ice cream, ok?
Lionard Pajoy, our starting forward for the entire season up to date, had a single shot last game, “Well that’s just an aberration!” You might yell back at me because you’re defiant and fiery and I like that but here is where I break your spirit.
You see, before the Seattle game, Lionard Pajoy managed to take a grand total of zero shots. Adding up the minutes (not including extra time) in 254 minutes, Pajoy could not manage to send the ball even in a vague direction of the freaking goal. In time totaling just over 4 hours of game time, Pajoy could not manage to do the thing that he solely is paid for, put the ball in the back of the net, hell, he couldn’t even be bothered to try. That is unacceptable. That is WRONG.
Now, some of you might argue that the team is letting down Pajoy, that the service isn’t good and that the passes aren’t helping him. However, some this can be blamed on coaching (and we shall cross that bridge in a bit, oh yes), but we cannot and must not ignore individual player effort. I went through the highlights and it’s not in there so I can’t cite exactly when it happened, but at one point, Pajoy had the ball in the box and rather than try and take the shot, he instead passed it off to his right where there was no one from the Union and in fact there was a Seattle defender. Myself and the people I was watching the game were SCREAMING at Pajoy to shoot, but nope, attack ended.
Pajoy needs to sit, now. Porfirio Lopez was originally my “player who needs to be benched” through the first few games of the season, but Pajoy has quickly emerged with more speed than he’s shown on the field to date to take the lead in that race.
Now, let’s move on to History shall we? Let’s start by going over some ancient quotes from…earlier this year.
“We feel that in the best interest of our club these decisions need to be made for our short and long-term benefit. Although we achieved great success making it to the semifinals of the playoffs last year we are not in any way content with that. We operate in a highly competitive and demanding marketplace and believe the moves we have made and continue to make improve our roster and give us a better chance to advance past the semifinals.”
“It’s about trying to a build a club around the future.”
“…We have and we will continue to build the franchise. It’s not about one player. It’s about the foundation. Feelings are not in my job description. I have to make sure the team is good … and that the team is going to have a future.”
The first quote is from Nick Sakiewicz the second two are from Peter Nowak; all three were made after the Le Toux trade. I highlight this not to bring up the tired discussion of Sebastien Le Toux but to point out how utterly wrong and or flat out lying the two men have been.
First of all, looking at Sakiewicz’s quote, so far the season is a swing and a miss, “short term benefit” so far has the team looking worse than it did in its inaugural season (at least then if we lost, then damnit we were going to make you get two or three goals to beat us) and “Long term benefit” yeah…the future looks positively luminescent right now.
But yes, a “highly competitive and demanding marketplace” means that while you’re improving your team so is everyone else. Sakiewicz at least acknowledges the fact that the fans are demanding, we want a winning team. We’ve tasted the forbidden fruit and we want to eat the entire tree. However, the question is, how long exactly are we going to be patient?
As Nowak points out, “It’s trying to build a club around the future,” and THAT is why we’ve consistently started a 30 year old forward and just recently brought in a 27 year old forward/midfielder despite the fact that we have younger players some of whom have been with the team since it started and whom the coaching staff refuses to play. Mwanga looks more and more like a bust to me, he had a good assist in the game against San Jose, but other than that has been ineffective, however, when he is on, Mwanga is ON. Josue Martinez has not gotten consistent start time. Jack McInerney has provided some spark in the forward part of the pitch and despite some solid sub roles, has yet to be given a shot to show what he can do in 90 minutes. I can go on and on. The point is, is that we have other options, but flat out refuse to use them. Nowak and the front office preach this youth movement and how it will set the team up for success, but yet, when the time comes to throw some of these youngsters out there to see what they can do, they hesitate.
The best comparison I can make is the Philadelphia Flyers, they traded away Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, two of their most prolific and popular players in favor of cheaper and younger players. The moves have obviously paid off for the Flyers. They were willing to trust in their coaching staff that the young players were ready to step up and lead the team. They trusted that the scouting reports on these young kids was accurate.
The Union seems to lack that trust.
They are unwilling to put Josue Martinez on the field. They don’t want to give McInerney a shot. Tell me something, if you’re a youth player for the Union and your head coach and what is essentially your owner/GM come out and say, “We think the young guys deserve their shot,” and then you get leap frogged by players who have never played a single minute within your league, how exactly motived does that make you? You going to give it your all in training knowing that at any moment the team might bring in someone who, despite not proving themselves in any training session gets the start over you?
Yes, Peter you’re going to make sure the team has a future…by not letting them play…that makes perfect sense.
Oh wait, NO IT DOESN’T.
The Pajoy and Herdling acquisitions have smacked of the Union tacitly saying that maybe this whole youth thing wasn’t a good idea. The fact that Pajoy continually gets the start despite not doing anything to earn it tells me that the Union has a double standard. The kids have to “earn” their starts, but the slightly older guys get free passes right to the field.
The next subject we’re going to go into is English or more specifically, Reading. This isn’t about reading books, oh no, we’re talking about reading the game of soccer.
Let’s suppose your team is tied 0-0 after the half, now then, what do you do for subs in the second half? Let’s multiple choice this biatch.
A) Bring on an offensive minded substitute
B) Do nothing until you see a drop in play from a player.
C) Bring on a defensive minded substitute
Pick A or B?
WRONG. At least, you would be if you were John Hackworth. In the 61st minute, tied at 0-0 the Philadelphia Union subbed out Kai Herdling and brought on Brian F*CK’n Carroll.
Now, I’m not hating on Brian. I love Brian Carroll, the guy is solid defensively in the midfield, he’s a player that you don’t realize what he does for your team until you no longer have him. Now at this point in the game, the Union actually didn’t look terrible. For the first half they generally seemed to be able to keep possession and it seemed like they would generate a goal given some time.
Then? The substitution.
The Union moved to what was probably a 4-5-1 formation. You know, the one where Pajoy is on an island all by himself and can’t do crap because he’s getting jumped by THE ENTIRE DEFENSE? That one.
I truly have no idea what was going through Hackworth’s head and probably may never know short of the usage of a scalpel and oscillating skull saw, but naturally that’s a bit drastic so I’ll settle for what I “read” of the game. Maybe Hackworth thought that bringing in Carroll would help solidify possession, maybe Carroll would help create chances with some stabilizing play and calm down the midfield.
Then two minutes later the team gave up the goal that they ended losing by. They also began the long, high aerial passes that have made me grind my teeth to dust throughout the season because they NEVER WORK.
It was a boneheaded tactical decision. Hackworth apparently said before the match that he has discussed tactics with Nowak before the matches, but during the 90 minutes he is in “complete control” and unfortunately showed the type of tactics that would make a French Army unit marvel at how quickly we essentially surrendered control of the game at that point.
But at the end of it all, I suppose I can’t be too mad. I actually predicted a loss against Seattle, no, where the Union make or break their season is Mother’s Day, because that is the day we play the New York Red Bulls. We play poorly and god forbid, lose to New York? We’re in deep trouble, far worse than we are now. New York is as vulnerable as they’re going to be. They’re without Thierry Henry one of their two main goal scoring threats. Barring any further injury to any of their starters, this might be the most vulnerable they’ll be all season. The Union needs a win to boost confidence and prove to themselves that they can go toe to toe with a high powered team. They NEED to play well to show us all that they can.
I hate using the term “must win game” but this New York game is a MUST WIN GAME. If the Union lose to New York, I’m pretty sure there might be a riot at PPL Park. It wasn’t until our tenth game last season that the Union managed more than a single goal in a game. This upcoming match will be our 9th of the season. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope they break out of that funk then.