Philadelphia Union

27 May 3:22 pm
River Cup V is a friendly, on field competition between the Union Front Office & Technical Staff and the Union Supporters Group the Sons of Ben.
 
Event Timeline: 
  • September 19th 2015
  • 10:00AM Union Ownership Game
  • 11:30AM RiverCup match
  • 3:00PM Delaware River Craft Brewfest
River Cup Proceeds benefit the Philadelphia Union Foundation! The Philadelphia Union Foundation provides opportunities for children through the power of relationships to offer transformational change in the areas of education, community, health and recreation. The Philadelphia Union Foundation believes that the 21st century presents enormous challenges for today's youth. It is our aim to have a positive impact on these children with respect to character development, academic performance and physical well-being. The Foundation will use soccer as a conduit for change by reinforcing character values of integrity, effort, accountability, and pride.
 
Tickets will go on sale June 15th! Stay tuned for the purchase information.
 
 
27 May 2:55 pm

Injury Report:

 

 

Player

Status

Injury

Andre Blake

Out

Right knee menisectomy recovery

Michael Lahoud

Out

Right Quad Strain

Steven Vitoria

Out

Left hamstring strain

Ray Gaddis

Questionable

Left ankle sprain

Jimmy McLaughlin

Questionable

Left ankle sprain

Conor Casey

Questionable

Left quad strain

Antoine Hoppenot

Questionable

Left hamstring strain

 

Practice:

On another gorgeous day for practice, the players once again could be seen training very hard. There were some faces missing, including starting goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre, and starting centerback Ethan White.

The Carolina RailHawks recalled Sylvestre yesterday so he could start in goal for the team in their U.S. Open Cup game that is being held tonight. While he will return Thursday, by playing for the RailHawks in the Open Cup means that he is “cup tied”. Being cup tied to the RailHawks prohibits him from playing for the Union in any U.S. Open Cup games.

White was inside working on his knee, doing some light workouts with the trainers.

As far as practice itself, Ray Gaddis was, for the most part, a full participant, along with Kyle Morton, a goalkeeper who was temporarily brought up from Reading United.

Most of practice involved different variations of 5-on-5 and 7-on-7, with a special emphasis on shooting. In between each of the team drills, Curtin had players break into groups to practice shooting from distance on each of the goals.

Both Cristian Maidana and Fernando Aristeguieta looked to be in top form, with Chaco playing some great balls into the forwards, and Aristeguieta finishing well, showing that he has returned from Venezuela in top form.

Joining the team for practice today was Icelandic superstar Eiður Guðjohnsen. Guðjohnsen will be practicing with the team for the next week as he trains for Iceland’s upcoming Euro Qualifiers. In the past, Guðjohnsen has played for teams such as Chelsea, Barcelona, Monaco and Tottenham. He currently plays for the Bolton Wanderers. 

 

27 May 9:51 am

In case you haven’t heard, both Brian Sylvestre AND Fabinho have made the MLS Team of the Week after their Week 12 performances against the New York Red Bulls.

Fabinho was getting the start in place of the injured Ray Gaddis and surpassed everyone’s expectations. In what Jim Curtin called his best game in a Union uniform, Fabinho had six interceptions and six clearances while providing an assist to C.J. Sapong after a great run done the left-hand side of the field. Fabinho was able to push forward while keeping the New York Red Bull’s Lloyd Sam from getting a shot on goal.

Sylvestre had another great game in goal, shutting out the Red Bulls for only the second time this season and the first time at home. He only had to make three saves but they were all key to the victory. His best save of the match came after Sacha Kljestan’s shot was deflected, making Sylvestre dive to his left, only for the ball to end up at Bradley Wright-Phillips feet. Wright-Phillips quickly shot towards the exposed half of goal but Sylvestre managed to kick his legs out and send the ball out of bounds instead.

Jim Curtin also recieved an honor this week, being selected as the MLS Coach of the Week for Week 12.

26 May 2:28 pm
On the most beautiful day of practice this year, the Union received multiple pieces of good news in the form of returning players.
 
The first player to make his way back onto the practice field was none other than ironman Ray Gaddis. Gaddis, who sprained his left ankle in the win against D.C. United, was back on the field in limited role that saw him participate in movement and passing drills before doing some light jogging. 
 
The other player returning was Fernando Aristeguieta, who made his way back from Venezuela this week after being called down to be in the 30-man roster prior to the 2015 Copa America. The team cheered and clapped when Fernando jogged onto the field from the locker room.
 
The first half of practice focused heavily on passing the ball, and moving without the ball to receive the pass. While this was happening, the goalies received one-on-one training, working on their reflexes and jumping on live balls in the box.
 
Two or three players from Reading United were at practice today, working with the team. Practice was forced to stop for a few minutes when one of the Reading players broke his wrist after getting hit with a shot.
 
Practice wrapped up with some shooting drills, with John McCarthy and Brian Sylvestre in fine form again.
 
After practice, Richie Marquez helped to put on the TruMark Soccer Clinic help in PPL Park, something both he and the kids visibly enjoyed.

 

24 May 8:52 pm

After the loss two weeks ago to the Vancouver Whitecaps, fans were calling for Jim Curtin’s head. Now, after the Union's first win at Red Bull Arena, they’re praising him.

Two weeks, two wins against opponents who are thought to be the best that the Eastern Conference has to offer. The Union have now managed to get 12 points from 13 games, five points behind the Red Bulls, who are in third.

As I mentioned in my thoughts at halftime, the Union seemed to be perfectly fine with the Red Bulls dictating the play, waiting for the chance to strike on the counter attack.

The first goal came when Andrew Wenger did a nice bit of dribbling on the left wing to set the ball up for Cristian Maidana, who hit it first time to Vincent Nogueira. Nogueira provided the goal with a nifty finish, hitting it in with the inside of his boot while facing the other direction.

The second goal came from more great wing play on the break, with Fabinho making a great run and an even better pass across the face of the goal to a streaking C.J. Sapong, who knocked it in for the second goal in 10 minutes.

“As a forward you just want to be near the goal, and [Fabinho] played the perfect ball, I really didn’t have much to do,” Sapong said after the game. 

The assist marks the second in two games for Fabinho, who was starting at left back for the injured Ray Gaddis.

At the end of the day, the Union played the kind of game that they needed to play to win by not trying to possess the ball against the high press from the Red Bulls. Brian Sylvestre and the rest of the defense came up big, posting another shutout in the second consecutive win. 

The team now gets Memorial Day off before they regroup and get ready to face D.C. United away at RFK Stadium next Saturday.

 

 

Here are a couple of other stats that may be of some interest:

 

Possession: New York Red Bulls: 66%, Union 34%

Clearances: NYRB 12, Union 27

Total passes: NYRB 542, Union 285

Total shots: NYRB 15, Union 7

Shots on goal: NYRB 3, Union 3

Crosses: NYRB 33, Union 14

24 May 6:03 pm

The Union are definitely playing a defensive game, allowing the Red Bulls to dictate the amount of time they have on the ball. This, combined with the high pressure style of the Red Bulls, leaves them open for the counter attack, something that the Union have taken advantage of.

Though the Union only have 35% of the possession, they have more corners than the Red Bulls (2-1) and they have the same amount of shots on goal (1-1).

Going into the second half, the Union have the advantage due to the Red Bulls already using one of their substitutions for an injury to Kemar Lawrence at the 30 minute mark.  They have allowed the Red Bulls to play their style and now are in prime position to start to put a bigger influence on the game.

They have to be careful not to get lazy, however, as the Red Bulls have already seen two shots hit off the posts and bounce out.

24 May 4:17 pm

Philadelphia Union Starting XI against the New York Red Bulls

Formation: 4-3-2-1

ST: #6 Conor Casey-MLS Start No. 146, Union Start No. 45

LAM: #11 Andrew Wenger-MLS Start No. 49, Union Start No. 31

CAM: #10 Cristian “Chaco” Maidana-MLS Start No. 30, Union Start No. 30

RAM: #9 Sebastien Le Toux-MLS Start No. 163, Union Start No. 121

LDM: #5 Vincent Nogueira-MLS Start No. 36, Union Start No. 36

RDM: #7 Brian Carroll-MLS Start No. 305, Union Start No. 116

LB: #33 Fabinho-MLS Start No. 33, Union Start No. 33

LCB: #16 Richie Marquez-MLS Start No. 2, Union Start No. 2

RCB: #15 Ethan White-MLS Start No. 54, Union Start No. 20

RB: #25 Sheanon Williams-MLS Start No. 133, Union Start No. 133

GK: #49 Brian Sylvestre-MLS Start No. 3, Union Start No. 3

 

Bench:

C.J. Sapong

John McCarthy

Jimmy McLaughlin

Zach Pfeffer

Eric Ayuk

Raymond Lee

Fred

 

Game Notes:

Williams has two career game-winning assists versus the NYRB…Casey has nine goals and three assists in 11 games against the NYRB…Le Toux played for the Red Bulls in 2012 and had three goals in three games against them last year…The Union have never won in Red Bulls Arena

21 May 1:09 pm
On a cold and wet day like today, it’s nice to bundle up and stay inside while watching Netflix. No such luck for the Philadelphia Union today as they practiced from 10-12 this morning.
 
The team was very good vocally today, talking with each other a lot, calling out where they were and where they were going. Over all of their voices, Jim Curtin could be heard yelling at them to keep their focus, harping on getting rid of their unforced errors.
 
Most of practice focused on playing with possession and defending in a high press against larger numbers. This meant that every pass had to be crisp or you risked hearing a whistle and an earful from one of the coaches.
 
In terms of personnel, C.J. Sapong was back at practice today for the first time since his suspension as a result of his DUI arrest in early May. Sapong looked pretty sharp but lacks match fitness so it is unlikely that he will be in the squad for the game against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night.
 

Practice wrapped up with shooting drills, with Zach Pfeffer looking especially good, seemingly scoring easily with both his right foot and his left foot. And while shooting practice is supposed to be more for the outfield players, goalkeepers Brian Sylvestre and John McCarthy looked on their games today, making the decision as to who will start on Sunday a tough one.

 
21 May 8:53 am

Since Jim Curtin took over as head coach midway through the 2014 season, the Union have more or less earned a reputation as a counterattacking team. Regardless of how you feel about the stigma, the numbers have supported the argument, with the Union trailing in possession in eight of their 12 contests this season.

And while a lot has been made about their overall possession (or lack thereof) this season, it’s actually relevancy it’s debated – and not just by Curtin. On Sunday night, thanks to one of the club’s better passing days all season, their overall number jumped to 46.75 percent on the season, good for 16th in MLS.

But, the greater possession didn't neccessarily equate to better chances. So how important is possession, really?

Joining the Union in bottom quarter of the league’s possession are three of the top four teams in the Western Conference – FC Dallas (also tied on top of the league's table), Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes. Toronto, the other, is fourth in the league in goals per game. And, all are above the playoff line, although admittedly it is only the middle of May.

Sorted by possession, here's how the league ranks:

Team                   Possession Games Played Chances Created Goals CC P/G G P/G Conversion
Red Bulls 55.67 10 107 14 10.70   1.40 13.08%
NYCFC 54.03 11 110 9 10.00 0.82 8.18%
Orlando City 52.30 11 86 13 7.82 1.18 15.12%
Crew SC 52.16 10 125 15 12.50 1.50 12.00%
Seattle 52.13 10 75 17 7.50 1.70 22.67%
Portland 52.06 11 100 10 9.09 0.91 10.00%
LA Galaxy 51.99 12 90 11 7.50 0.92 12.22%
Sporting KC 51.58 10 107 13 10.70 1.30 12.15%
Salt Lake 51.09 11 67 10 6.09 0.91 14.93%
Montreal 50.97 6 54 7 9.00 1.17 12.96%
Chicago 50.93 9 105 9 11.67 1.00 8.57%
D.C. United 50.06 11 82 13 7.45 1.18 15.85%
NE Revs 49.08 11 99 15 9.00 1.36 15.15%
Houston 48.7 12 104 16 8.67 1.33 15.38%
Colorado 48.67 10 108 9 10.80 0.90 8.33%
Union 46.75 12 91 11 7.58 0.92 12.09%
Toronto FC 46.26 9 88 13 9.78 1.44 14.77%
Vancouver 45.78 12 127 14 10.58 1.17 11.02%
FC Dallas 45.51 11 82 17 7.45 1.55 20.73%
San Jose 44.96 11 92 12 8.36 1.09 13.04%

Looking at the teams along the bottom quarter with the Union, possession hardly influences Vancouver's ability to get in goal-scoring situations – only five teams create more chances per game. As for Dallas and Toronto, they've simply been finishing at a very high level. At the end of the day, the only stat that matters is how many you put in the back of the net, but possession isn't the issue for the Union right now.

The bigger issue for the Union lies in the chances created department, which typically does not historically correlate off possession. But the lack of chances for the Union can be correlated to missing Vincent Nogueira and Cristian Maidana for stretches this season, especially Nogueira.

However, that would be misleading if you were to look at overall numbers. Nogueira has created just five chances this year, compared to Maidana's 23 – far away the team leader.

Here's a breakdown of each game, listed in order of chances created. Note the minutes Nogueira and Maidana, respectively played.

Opponent Chances Nogueira mins Maidana mins Both Result
vs. COL 13 85 45 130 D
vs. FCD 10 90 0 90 L
at NYC 9 63 32 95 D
vs. NYC 8 90 6 96 W
vs. DC 8 87 90 177 W
at RSL 8 90 79 169 D
vs. NE 7 0 63 63 L
at CLB 7 0 90 90 L
at SKC 6 0 0 0 L
at VAN 5 28 90 118 L
at CHI 5 67 0 67 L
vs. TOR 5 0 90 90 L

It's clear that Maidana has been most effective when playing with Nogueira underneath him. Through 12 games this season, the Union have created eight or more chances in six games. In the other six games that they created seven chances or less, the Union were without either Nogueira or Maidana in the starting lineup for every single one of them. And in four of those, Nogueira didn't even play. Yes, the draw at NYCFC hardly featured Nogueira and Maidana together, but the two were both on the field for the decisive, end-of-the-game goal against NYCFC at home. And they were excellent together in games against Salt Lake and Colorado (when Maidana came on at halftime).

You may also notice the team's record in these two sets. In those first six games, the Union are 2-1-3 with the lone loss coming when they were sent to 10 men in the first half against FC Dallas. They're also creating 9.3 chances per game in those contests, slightly above league average. In those other six games, while missing either Nogueira or Maidana (or both), they're 0-6-0. Right now, the equation seems to be Nogueira + Maidana = more chances. More chances, well... the better odds of a result, regardless of possession.

Finally back to Nogueira, and it's pretty simple: the Union are 2-2-3 when he starts; 0-5-0 when he doesn't.

We'll see if this pattern continues Sunday with Nogueira and Maidana both likely healthy for selection.

20 May 4:53 pm

Press Conference Recap:

This week, Conor Casey took to the podium as the star of the player press conference. Here are some of the best parts of his presser:

On playing a full 90 minutes on Sunday:

It was great, you know, first and foremost just to get the win. And to play it was definitely a grueling 90. A little bit sore but definitely excited to play, excited to win, and looking forward to this weekend.

I mean practices has been good, they’ve been sharp a couple months now. So I think the fitness, if you can get that good base fitness in practice then in the game, its kind of a different animal. Getting those minutes on the field will definitely help to push the fitness.

On playing the New York Red Bulls and their high pressure style this weekend:

It doesn’t effect my playing style as a forward that much. I think that we understand that they’re playing quite a bit different then they did last year, in terms of their pressing. It will be something that we’ll certainly have to deal with, especially since we’re playing there, but you know I think my job individually remains the same in terms of just trying to work hard, hold the ball up, and score.
 
After Casey spoke, head coach Jim Curtin held his weekly presser. Here are some highlights:

On playing the Red Bulls on Sunday:

It doesn’t get any easier for us having to go to New York, a rival game. New York will certainly be a tough task, a team that’s in very good form, a tam that high presses all over the field. I think the team that has the best midfield in the league going right now between Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan, and Felipe. A team that, if I’m being honest, gave us a lot of issues in the preseason even though the scoreline in that game was very much in our favor They created a ton and were very good against us. A team we respect, a team we know is going to be good, a coach I know in Jesse Marsch. Anytime you go on the road in this league its difficult to get wins but that’s going to have to be our task.

On preparing for the Red Bulls:

Yesterday was more of a regeneration day. We pushed the group that didn’t get a lot of time. Today we focused on dealing with, because their three midfielders are so comfortable on the ball and versatile, they have a way of really getting forward and creating a numbers advantage in the midfield. Lloyd Sam is another underrated player that is having a great year, that can come inside, can beat you one on one outside. They a tendency to outnumber you in midfield. That’s something that we worked on today, dealing with the extra number, its not so much man to man, its more about guys looking around, cutting off passing lanes, and doing their job, sometimes dealing with two guys and doing that in a smart way. With their high press they put their defenders on islands and they ask them to make tough one on one plays and they’ve a very good job. Their backline has done a  great job of making those individual efforts because they do press so high and put a lot into making you turn the ball