Blog

01 July 11:10 am

So, here we are. 19 games into the 2015 MLS season, just over halfway done. What do we think?

Wait, don’t answer that. You’re probably not very happy, right? I mean the team is only 5-10-4, not exactly a record that makes you smile and say “I think we have a chance to win the MLS Cup this year”.

So sure, the record might not be great. We’ve let up far too many goals, something that head coach Jim Curtin and many other members of the team have admitted to. Sure, there are times this year when the Union have struggled to score goals, with some of the team's best players going through goal droughts.

But nobody is hiding those facts.

In the first 11 games, the Union went 1-7-3, only scoring 10 goals while conceding 21. That isn’t exactly a recipe for success. However, it’s important to remember injuries have nearly paralyzed the team throughout the first 3-4 months of the season. Take the goalkeeper position, where Brian Sylvestre, a player who started the season essentially as the team's fourth-string goalkeeper, has been forced into action. That doesn’t mean Sylvestre is playing bad, he’s been very good since joining the team on loan from the Carolina RailHawks, but his playing time was the result of a combination of poor form and a series of freak injuries, forcing the team to look elsewhere.

In the nine games that Sylvestre has played, he has only allowed 14 goals, and that includes the blowout losses to Vancouver Whitecaps and Los Angeles Galaxy (eight goals allowed in the two games combined) that weren’t entirely his fault. In fact, he had seven saves against Vancouver, which at the time, was tied for the league-high in a single game this season.

So while Sylvestre has been having himself a good season, he isn’t the only one. The team looked itself in the mirror after the Vancouver loss and decided things needed to change.

Since the game against Vancouver on May 9, the Union have gone 4-3-1 in league play and 2-0 in the US Open Cup for a combined record of 6-3-1. In those 10 games, they have scored 14 goals while only allowing 12, leaving the team with a positive goal differential for that stretch. That includes a 5-1 drubbing to LA Galaxy.

Key offseason acquisition C.J. Sapong has found his form, scoring five of his six goals in that stretch. Sheanon Williams has roared to life, solidifying his spot at right back with a couple of very impressive performances while Fabinho has played out of his skin at left back since coming on for an injured Ray Gaddis on May 17.

The resurgence of Brian Carroll and the technical midfield duo of Cristian Maidana and Vincent Noguiera have helped to lock down the center of the pitch, giving more room to the players on the wings to maneuver around opponents.

Oh and Maurice Edu -- the team’s captain? He’s quietly having one of the best seasons of his career, anchoring the backline with Richie Marquez, the Union’s version of Sergio Ramos (hair and all).

While some would try to take away from this Union team, keep trying to look at the positives rather than the negatives. Yes the season started poorly, but since the middle of May, they’ve been playing like one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, something that shows in the fact that the New England Revolution, who sit in second, are only five points ahead of the Union in the standings (and they're even in games played).

So as we prepare to enter the second half of the season, enter it thinking about how this team primed to string together a run of results and how at the end of it. Who knows, they may be driving down the streets of Philadelphia holding not one, but two pieces of hardware.

30 June 6:31 pm

The Philadelphia Union take on the D.C. United at 7 p.m. tonight at PPL Park. Here is the lineup:

 

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Starters:

ST: C.J. Sapong

LAM: Andrew Wenger

CAM: Cristian Maidana

RAM: Eric Ayuk

LCDM: Brian Carroll

RCDM: Vincent Nogueira

LB: Sheanon Williams

CB: Richie Marquez

CB: Maurice Edu

RB: Ray Gaddis

GK: John McCarthy 

Bench: Andre Blake, Fabinho, Ethan White, Zach Pfeffer, Fred, Antoine Hoppenot, Jimmy McLaughlin

 

Career Stats vs. DC

C.J. Sapong (9 GP, 4 GS, 1 G, 0 A)

Andrew Wenger (5 GP, 4 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

Cristian Maidana (4 GP, 4 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

Eric Ayuk (2 GP, 0 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

Brian Carroll (16 GP, 16 GS, 1 G, 0 A)

Vincent Nogueira (4 GP, 4 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

Sheanon Willams (10 GP, 10 GS, 0 G, 3 A)

Richie Marquez (1 GP, 1 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

Maurice Edu (10 GP, 10 GS, 1 G, 1 A)

Ray Gaddis (5 GP, 5 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

John McCarthy (0 GP, 0 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

29 June 12:17 pm

The weather for today’s practice was perfect, hot and sunny but with a cooling breeze coming off the water.

Everyone was in practice today with the exception of Fernando Aristeguieta who is still trying to come back from an ankle injury.

Practice began with passing drills, working on the long through balls on the ground while utilizing only two touches. This then shifted over to long air though balls, trying to get the balls to drop in past the defenders(training dummies).

Goalies were again working on bouncing ball and reaction saves, working more on saving balls that fall into the box.

Practice then switched over to a game of transition possession, with three separate teams trying to complete 10 passes while under duress from an opposing teams. Michael Lahoud and Sebastien Le Toux did not participate in this but instead worked on rehabbing and doing other strength and conditioning exercises.

The three teams broke down like this:

Green: Sheanon Williams, C.J. Sapong, Eric Ayuk, Jimmy McLaughlin, Steven Vitoria, Fabinho, Vincent Nogueira

Orange: Cristian Maidana, Ray Gaddis, Brian Carroll, Richie Marquez, Raymond Lee, Conor Casey, Antoine Hoppenot

Grey: Zach Pfeffer, Maurice Edu, Dzenan Catic, Andrew Wenger, Fred, Ethan White

This then turned into small-sided games on a shortened field. Orange won the first two games, green won the next two, and then grey won the final game. Antoine and Sheanon looked particularly good, both scoring for their respective teams.

27 June 6:16 pm

The Philadelphia Union take on the Montreal Impact at 7 p.m. tonight at PPL Park. Here is the lineup:

 

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Starters:

ST: C.J. Sapong, MLS start No. 76, Union start No. 7

LAM: Zach Pfeffer, MLS start No. 11, Union start No. 11

CAM: Cristian Maidana, MLS start No. 36, Union start No. 36

RAM: Eric Ayuk, MLS start No. 5, Union start No. 5

LDM: Brian Carroll, MLS start No. 310, Union start No. 122

RDM: Vincent Nogueira, MLS start No. 42, Union start No. 42

LB: Fabinho, MLS start No. 45, Union start No. 38

CB: Richie Marquez, MLS start No. 8, Union start No. 8

CB: Maurice Edu, MLS start No. 86, Union start No. 48

RB: Ray Gaddis, MLS start No. 96, Union start No. 96

GK: Brian Sylvestre, MLS start No. 9, Union start No. 9

Bench: Andre Blake, Sheanon Williams, Ethan White, Andrew Wenger, Fred, Antoine Hoppenot and Dzenan Catic.

 

Career Stats vs. Montreal:

C.J. Sapong (7 GP, 4 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

Zach Pfeffer (0 GP, 0 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

Cristian Maidana (2 GP, 1 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

Eric Ayuk (0 GP, 0 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

Brian Carroll (8 GP, 8 GS, 0 G, 1 A)

Vincent Nogueira (3 GP, 3 GS, 1 G, 0 A)

Fabinho (4 GP, 4 GS, 1 G, 0 A)

Richie Marquez (0 GP, 0 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

Maurice Edu (3 GP, 3 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

Ray Gaddis (6 GP, 6 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

Brian Sylvestre (0 GP, 0 GS, 0 G, 0 A)

26 June 1:59 pm

The Philadelphia Union U-18s were in action again today for the final day of group play in the US Soccer Development Academy playoffs. The U-18s took on LA Galaxy’s U-18s in the final game for U-18 Group E.

The U-18’s game was first, playing against the LA Galaxy at 9 a.m.. The Union U-18s are unable to advance beyond the group stage, making this the final game for some members of the team.

Today’s lineup featured a bit of a shake-up, running a 4-1-4-1 formation with Yosef Samuel up top. This was Samuel’s first game action in the USSDA playoffs.

 The game started fast for the Union with Samuel getting off some good looks early and actually putting on into the goal in the 8th minute off of a long distance strike. After the goal, the game opened up more for both sides as both were playing for pride after being mathematically eliminated.

The Union continued to high press, even after the halftime break, causing some mayhem for the Galaxy. They took their foot off the gas a little bit but managed to keep it close. Towards the end, coach Peter Fuller started to put more on the seniors in, giving them the chance to play in their final game. They managed to hold the game as it was and when the final whistle blew, the Union had won 1-0.

26 June 11:48 am

Today was a good day for practice, with the weather being cool but humid, allowing the players to recover more and prepare for the game tomorrow.

Conor Casey, Dzenan Catic, and Michael Lahoud were all in practice today, though Lahoud only participated in warm-ups with the team before doing individual strength and conditioning work.

Practice opened up with triangle passing, working on the one touch pass and controlling the ball when if comes to their feet. Curtin stalked around the team as they did this, calling out mistakes and praising those who deserved it.

After the triangle passing, the team moved over to transition possession, where they had to complete at least ten passes before attempting to play it down to where the other team was waiting.

While this was going on, all three goalkeepers worked on their reflexes, especially pouncing on balls that bounce in the box.

Practice wrapped up with 10v9, where the team with 10 played without a keeper. The teams broke down like this:

Grey (10): Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Maurice Edu, Ray Gaddis, Vince Nogueira, Brian Carroll, Zach Pfeffer, Cristian Maidana, C.J. Sapong, and Eric Ayuk

Green (9): Sheanon Williams, Andrew Wenger, Ethan White, Antoine Hoppenot, Fred, Casey, Steven Vitoria, Catic, and Brian Sylvestre

After practice was over, the team voluntarily decided to work on shooting. Curtin told them the focus was getting it on goal rather than scoring a spectacular goal, something that should increase the number of rebounds in the box.

26 June 10:10 am

@jmacdaddy77 making another save for @PhilaUnion!!!@VoorheesTownCtr pic.twitter.com/nnhTtxKRuS

John McCarthy and Sébastien Le Toux took over the Voorhees Town Center on Monday, June 22nd to enjoy some fun and games with fans!

A new installment of “On the Road” was released on the Philadelphia Union’s YouTube channel. Follow the team to Los Angeles and get a look into the life of a Union equipment manager.

Fábio Alves joined fans at the 90th minute Radio Show at Chickie’s and Pete’s in North East Philadelphia. Two home matches in one week have kept the Union busy. On Wednesday June 24th, the Seattle Sounders made their way to PPL Park and were defeated 1-0 by the Union after C.J. Sapong scored in the 69th minute.

 

 

#PHIvSEA all in one infographic

 

25 June 1:25 pm

Always nice to updates stats after three points. Today, let's take a look around the league and see where the Union and some players stack up.

C.J. Sapong -- consecutive games with a goal.

Union -- Franchise Games MLS -- 2015 Games
Jack McInerney (Sept/Oct 2012) 4 Charlie Davies (April-May) 4
Sapong (June-present) 4 Chris Wondolowski (May) 4
    Sapong 4
    Sebastian Lletget (active) 3
    Five others tied 3

 

 

 

 

C.J. Sapong -- goals per minute played

Player Team Min/goal Goals
Sebastian Lletget LA Galaxy 73 3
Anatole Abang NY Red Bulls 89.5 2
Chad Barrett Seattle 102 3
Sapong Philadelphia 108.2 6
Kei Kamara Columbus 111.8 12

 

 

 

 

 

  • Sapong is also tied for 9th in MLS with six goals scored. Kei Kamara leads the league with 12. Full list here.

Cristian Maidana -- assists

Player Team Assists
Ethan Finlay Columbus Crew SC 9
Benny Feilhaber Sporting Kansas City 8
Sebastian Giovinco Toronto FC 7
Clint Dempsey Seattle Sounders 6
Maidana Philadelphia 5
7 others tied   5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maurice Edu -- minutes played

Player Team Minutes
Bobby Boswell D.C. United 1625
Baggio Husidic LA Galaxy 1590
Perry Kitchen D.C. United 1571
Juninho LA Galaxy 1544
Omar Gonzalez LA Galaxy 1542
Edu Philadelphia 1530
6 others tied   1530

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Others Notables

  • Brian Sylvestre is tied for 10th in MLS in clean sheets with four. Full list here.
  • Andrew Wenger is tied for 6th in MLS in games played with 18.

Team Stats

  • Union are eighth in shots on goal (74) and 10th in goals scored (20).
  • They're second in goals scored (11) on the road.
  • Despite being last in MLS in goals allowed, the Union are the only team in the league not to concede a goal in the first 15 minutes.
  • They're 12th in MLS in average home attendance at 17,493.