Week 14 wasn't quite what Union fans envisioned, especially after a 3-0 triumph over Columbus Crew SC on Wednesday, but some Union players received some well-deserved accolades for last week's performances.
Start with forward C.J. Sapong, who scored a pair of goals this week against Columbus and New York City that earned him a nod on MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week. He now has four goals on the year and is third in MLS in goals scored per minute played.
The recent run of form has defender Sheanon Williams making some headlines. Another strong week for the resurgent right back placed him on Goal.com's Team of the Week.
Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre posted his remarkable third clean sheet of his young career on Wednesday against Crew SC. He kept keep the game scoreless with a wonderful save on Aaron Schoenfeld in the first half. That earned him a nomination for the Save of the Week.
It doesn’t matter which way you cut it, Saturday’s 2-1 loss to New York City FC was certainly a disappointing result. But some of the advanced stats do point to Saturday being one of the Union’s top performances this season, at least offensively.
The Union had season-highs in shots on target (7) and passing accuracy in the final third (75.4 percent). They also approached season-highs in passing accuracy at 79.5 percent (second), crosses with 32 (second), chances created with 11 (third) and attempted shots with 12 (fourth).
So, let’s see where they stack up against the rest of MLS in some categories.
|Team||Possession||Passing Accuracy||Total Shots||Chances Created|
|New York Red Bulls||54.9 (1st)||75.5 (15th)||14.2 (3rd)||10.1 (8th)|
|Seattle Sounders FC||54.3 (2nd)||80.2 (3rd)||10.2 (18th)||7.6 (18th)|
|Orlando City SC||53.7 (3rd)||82.6 (1st)||11.9 (12th)||8.4 (13th)|
|New York City FC||53.4 (4th)||77.2 (7th)||12.9 (9th)||10.1 (9th)|
|LA Galaxy||52.8 (5th)||76.3 (11th)||10.6 (17th)||7.9 (16th)|
|D.C. United||52.0 (6th)||76.8 (8th)||10.9 (15th)||7.6 (19th)|
|Portland Timbers||51.6 (7th)||79.9 (4th)||13.4 (6th)||10.3 (6th)|
|Columbus Crew SC||51.3 (8th)||81.7 (2nd)||14.4 (2nd)||11.5 (2nd)|
|Real Salt Lake||50.9 (9th)||75.8 (14th)||9.9 (20th)||6.7 (20th)|
|Chicago Fire||50.2 (10th)||78.3 (6th)||15.5 (1st)||12.1 (1st)|
|Sporting Kansas City||49.9 (11th)||75.8 (13th)||13.1 (7th)||10.9 (3rd)|
|Houston Dynamo||48.5 (12th)||76.1 (12th)||12.3 (10th)||8.7 (10th)|
|Colorado Rapids||48.3 (13th)||74.4 (17th)||13.8 (5th)||10.6 (5th)|
|New England Revolution||48.3 (14th)||74.6 (16th)||11.0 (14th)||8.4 (12th)|
|Montreal Impact||48.2 (15th)||79.0 (5th)||12.1 (11th)||8.1 (14th)|
|FC Dallas||46.9 (16th)||74.1 (19th)||10.1 (19th)||7.9 (17th)|
|San Jose Earthquakes||46.5 (17th)||74.2 (18th)||11.6 (13th)||8.5 (11th)|
|Philadelphia Union||45.8 (18th)||73.8 (20th)||10.8 (16th)||8.0 (15th)|
|Toronto FC||45.5 (19th)||76.7 (9th)||13.0 (8th)||10.1 (7th)|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC||45.4 (20th)||76.4 (10th)||14.1 (4th)||10.9 (4th)|
As we documented earlier in the year in this blog, possession isn't detrimental strictly on it's own. Teams like Toronto and Vancouver have created plenty of scoring chances regardless of the amount of possession they have per game. But, this possibly stems from increased accuracy in passing. Furthermore, look at the Fire, who lead the league in total shots and chances created, while only have league-average possession.
Finally, one last number to push along is the resurgence of forward C.J. Sapong. Since returning from a month-long absence, Sapong has bagged three goals in four games and is now third in MLS in goals per minute played.
|Player||Minutes per goal||Goals|
|Chad Barrett (SEA)||102||3|
|Kei Kamara (CLB)||116.2||10|
|C.J. Sapong (PHI)||117.3||4|
|Will Bruin (HOU)||124.7||7|
|Jozy Altidore (TOR)||131.8||5|
|Krisztian Nemeth (SKC)||135.3||6|
|Cyle Larin (ORL)||137.6||5|
|Clint Dempsey (SEA)||138||7|
|Chris Wondolowski (SJ)||147.3||8|
|Obafemi Martins (SEA)||150||6|
The Philadelphia Union were off on Monday and goalkeeper John McCarthy spent his time at duPont Hospital in Wilmington, Del.
The 22-year-old Philadelphia native surprised one patient, Cameron McCarthy (no relation), to drop off a few gifts and even brought some hair clippers. The Union goalkeeper then let his new friend shave off all of his hair.
Cameron shaves John McCarthy's head at the hospital! #TeamCameron
Posted by Philadelphia Union on Monday, June 8, 2015
To help support Cameron and her fight, you can visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/teamcameron111 and can donate at http://www.gofundme.com/w5d79c. And if you missed it, here's MyFoxPhilly's story. #TeamCameron
As many of you probably know, tonight the United States Women's National Team plays its first game of the 2015 Women's World Cup agaisnt Australia. The game will take place in WInnipeg, Canada at 7:30 p.m and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. In the interest of supporting the USWNT and the Women's World Cup, we asked a couple of the players to give their predictions on what the score will be tonight.
Here is what they said:
Sheanon Williams: 2-0, USA wins
C.J. Sapong: 3-1, USA wins
Vince Nogueira: 2-0, USA wins
Michael Lahoud: 4-1, USA wins
Sebastien Le Toux: 2-0, USA wins
Ray Gaddis: 4-0, USA wins
John McCarthy: 3-0, USA wins
Brian Sylvestre: 3-0, USA wins
Zach Pfeffer: 2-0, USA wins
Richie Marquez: 2-0, USA wins
Ethan White: 3-1, USA wins
It isn't surprising that the Union all picked the USWNT to win as they are viewed as one of the favorites to win the tournament. The team finished in second in the last Women's World Cup in Germanny in 2011, losing in penalty kicks to Japan. The team then went on to win the gold in the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
Philadelphia Union and New York City FC have met twice so far this season, with the Union winning the first game and playing to a draw in the second, with Saturday's match being the third between the two clubs this year. The Union won the first match 2-1 at PPL Park, and then drew 1-1 with NYCFC five days later in Yankee Stadium.
Here is today's starting lineup with career stats listed in parenthesis.
GK: Brian Sylvestre (Game No. 6, start 6)
LB: Fabinho (Game No. 42, start 36)
LCB: Richie Marquez (Game No. 6, start 5)
RCB: Maurice Edu (Game No. 84, start 83)
RB: Sheanon Williams (Game No. 137, start 136)
LCDM: Brian Carroll (Game No. 330, start 308)
RCDM: Vince Nogueira (Game No. 41, start 39)
LAM: Andrew Wenger (Game No. 95, start 52)
CAM: Cristian Maidana (Game No. 39, start 33)
RAM: Sebastien Le Toux (Game No. 200, start 166)
ST: C.J. Sapong (Game No. 120,start 73)
Bench: John McCarthy, Raymon Gaddis, Ethan White, Fred, Zach Pfeffer, Eric Ayuk, Jimmy McLauhglin
Career stats vs. NYCFC
Brian Sylvestre (0 GP)
Fabinho (0 GP)
Richie Marquez (0 GP)
Maurice Edu (2 GP, 2 GS, 0G, 1A)
Sheanon Williams (2 GP, 2 GS, 0G, 0A)
Brian Carroll (0 GP)
Vince Nogueira (2 GP, 2 GS, 1G, 0A)
Andrew Wenger (2 GP, 2 GS, 0G, 0A)
Cristian Maidana (2 GP, 2 GS, 0G, 0A)
Sebastien Le Toux (2 GP, 2 GS, 0G, 0A)
C.J. Sapong (2 GP, 0 GS, 1G, 0A)
Practice today, much like the weather gradually warmed up as it went along. Players got out on the field around 10 and proceeded to do stretches and other conditioning work before breaking down into passing drills.
The team focused on quick, one touch passing before moving over to transition possession. The team broke down into three separate squads of seven men, with each team having to complete ten passes, with two touches on the ball before passing it up.
While the team was doing the drills, Curtin was coaching them up, telling them to keep their composure on the ball and to wait for passing lanes to open up before giving the ball up so that they aren’t forcing the pass.
Mike Lahoud was doing strength and conditioning, trying to recover from his injury so he get back to practicing with the team.
Practice ended with the starters going up against a scout team made up of the bench players. The team worked on moving the ball around in the midfield while under game-like pressure, trying to play the ball in over the top.
Following that, the team practiced corners and shooting, with McCarthy in goal as Sylvestre did some extra conditioning work.
After practice, Maurice Edu and Curtin both participated in an event for the Special Olympics. Both of them carried the Special Olympics flame which is making its way across the country to Los Angeles, where the 2015 Special Olympic World Games are being held.
Here are a few highlights from twitter following the Union's 3-0 win on Wednesday night
— Billy Nayden (@bnayden) June 4, 2015
— Adam Michael Gross (@GatorsNeverDie2) June 4, 2015
— Doctor Banner (@TheTimDevoe) June 4, 2015
Counter attacking at it's finest. This is just beautiful. pic.twitter.com/htTq16ZM5r
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) June 4, 2015
Everything you need to know from last night's game in one infographic. pic.twitter.com/vIzMbA100E
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) June 4, 2015
Today’s practice started out with some very good news for the Union. Just when they thought things couldn’t get any better after a dominating performance against Columbus Crew SC, goalkeeper Andre Blake was a participant in practice today.
For the work that he did in the goalkeeping drills, Blake looked sharp, showing good movement and dexterity on his knee. The spring is definitely back in his step, showing off how he is able to jump and cut without any issues.
The mood at practice today was lighthearted, joking around yet playing with the passion of a team that has won three out of four games and wants to win more.
Vince Nogueira and the rest of the starters had a light day today, participating in only the passing drills before doing some strength and conditioning work. Instead of joining the starters in the passing drills, Nogueira spent some extra time running and jogging around the field, looking to maintain the fitness he has showed in the past couple of games.
The passing and movement drills today deal with playing the long ball, with the added focus of staying onsides. When the starters left to go work on conditioning, the players who were on the bench and those coming back form injury did 4v5 drills, playing on a field that was a third of the size of a normal pitch.
Steven Vitoria fully participated in these drills, playing as the facilitator for both teams, and was not allowed to score.
The teams broke down like this:
Both teams played well and really got after the ball but the star was Lee, who showed off some of his shooting skills while playing from his traditional defensive position.
It's a double-game week for the Union, starting tonight at 7 p.m. against Columbus Crew SC at PPL Park. The game will be broadcast on The Comcast Network. It's also the third game in an eight-day stretch, leaving Jim Curtin with a few tough management selections. The good news is the team is relatively healthy, perhaps the most they've been since the season opener back on March 7.
|Andre Blake||OUT||Right knee menisectomy recovery|
|Mike Lahoud||OUT||Right quad strain|
|Antoine Hoppenot||QUESTIONABLE||Left hamstring strain|
|Conor Casey||QUESTIONABLE||Right quad strain|
|Steven Vitoria||QUESTIONABLE||Left knee strain|
With Blake out, the keepers will be Brian Sylvestre and John McCarthy again. Lahoud's injury, also not a surpise, will likely continue to be filled by Brian Carroll. Lahoud will miss a game against his a good friend and national teammate Kei Kamara. If you missed today's story about the two building a school back home in Sierra Leone, check it out here.
Three questionables for tonight include Steven Vitoria. The center back last played April 25, the last time the Union played Crew SC. Vitoria has a shot to be in the 18 tonight, but all signs are pointing to another CB pairing of Maurice Edu and Richie Marquez.
For Columbus, they have three questionables in Wil Trapp, Chris Klute and backup keeper Matt Lampson. Trapp has been going through concussion symptoms and hasn't played since April 8, but has been back in training for roughly the last week-and-a-half.
The bigger news is Crew SC will be without center back Michael Parkhurst, who is suspended for one-game following a red card in Crew SC's prior game against Orlando City. He's started all 12 games this year and will likley be replaced by Tyson Wahl, alongside Emanuel Pogatetz.
In today's press conference, team captain Maurice Edu spoke about the teams performance in the last game and thier focus moving forward. Here are some highlights from what he said:
On the team’s latest run of form
I think we’re starting to click at the right time. We had a difficult start in terms of results early on, but in saying that I wouldn’t say that we were playing terribly. I still think that we had a handful of games that we played pretty well at the start of the season, but we didn’t put together complete performances. We played well in those games, and ultimately in glimpses we came up short. So in the last three games, even in the DC game where we lost, we were proud of our performance. We felt that we put together a good performance over the course of the ninety minutes and in a couple small details we lost that game. But if we go out there and perform like that in the next couple games, we’re confident that we can get the results we want.
On the team’s momentum carrying over from their run of results
I think that the last few games have been a continuation of hard work. We’ve trained well and come into these games very confident, which I think has showed. We’re obviously disappointed not to win that game after going up early, and we thought we could have been up a couple of goals after that first half. From that standpoint we’re obviously disappointed but if you go back and watch the film, you can see that we still played well. We still created a lot of good chances, and defensively I thought we were pretty solid as a group. And again, we’re confident that if we play like that, we’ll get the run of results that we need.
After Edu spoke, head coach Jim Curtin jumped on the podium for his weekly presser. Here are a few of his highlights:
On the team’s reaction to the last loss against Columbus
Yeah, if you look at the season as a whole, the Columbus and Vancouver games were where we got outplayed and beat soundly. Columbus has a way of playing that when they get on you early and dictate the rhythm of the tempo of the game, they’re as good as anyone. They’ve had some unfortunate calls go against them with the red card and penalty against Michael Parkhurst that early in the game against Orlando, and to go on and still get that 2-2 result was impressive. They’ve had a little bit of an unlucky run lately but they’re a good team, a team we respect a great deal, and when they’re clicking on all cylinders they’re a handful. We’re fortunate to get them without Michael Parkhurst who I think is really an underappreciated center back in the league, not just for his defending but for his ability to possess and start their attack as one of the best passers in the league. So for them to be missing him is an advantage for us.
On the positives to take out of the loss against DC
Yeah, the guys are confident now, that is for sure. There’s a belief in the group and we’re healthy, at least as healthy as we’ve been. There’s some continuity in practice each week which goes a long way. I think the guys have worked hard and we’ve gotten a lot of good performances out of some veterans. I think that Brian Carroll’s quietly done a great job in stabilizing midfield. Vincent Nogueira’s back in the mix with Chaco and you guys have written about how important it is to have them both on the field at the same time. You sprinkle in some other guys having good performances and there’s a belief in the group. We know we’re not anywhere near where we want to be in the standings but at the same time we’ve looked like what we can show in the last three games. We can be a team that can play with anybody in the league and that’s the way we’re taking it. Now we have some games at home, 4 out of 5 in June and we need to go on a run if we want to put ourselves back in the playoff picture.