Three things you might not have recognized in Saturday's rainy match against Montreal

Deep observations from Saturday's MLS match against Montreal

Three balls PPL Park

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

A frustrating result, this was another game where Philadelphia controlled the possession battle and had the better opportunities in the game.

The Union had more shots on goal, more passes, better passing accuracy, and more set piece attempts, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw against 10-man Montreal.

1. Nogueira’s Activity

Vincent Nogueira was again active all over the field.

Take a look at his stats on the OPTA Chalkboard:

  • 45-for-60 in pass attempts
  • Three (3) fouls won
  • Five (5) layoffs
  • Four (4) headers
  • Three (3) successful dribbles
  • One (1) key pass
  • Two (2) through balls
  • Four (4) tackles won
  • One (1) interception
  • Five (5) recoveries

In essence, the lone moment of that blemished this game was the turnover that lead to the Montreal goal. It's unfortunate, because he really played a great game on Saturday.

Nogueira got the first goal of his MLS career. He was co-leader on the team with three attempted shots. He played another full game and has not missed a minute of action in 2014.

A great find for the Union who was in desperate need of a true box-to-box midfielder. Nogueira was all over the field, has all the prototypical movement, getting into the attacking third but also committing to his defensive responsibilities as well. He's been an excellent addition to the club.

2. The "Wall of Wheeler"

It was another solid game for converted center back Aaron Wheeler.

He was mostly mistake-free on the day, conceding zero fouls and getting down to block two shots. Wheeler had two interceptions, eight clearances, ten recoveries, and conceded two corner kicks on the afternoon.

You see the physicality that he can bring to the game with his six-foot, four-inch frame. Wheeler put in a couple of crunching, legal tackles on Justin Mapp that sent the former Union winger to the ground. They were shoulder-to-shoulder challenges that exhibited good positioning and good balance on his part.

In just two games, Wheeler has played 180 minutes and eclipsed the 127 minutes he played in the entirety of the 2013 season. It's a rarity for strikers to make a successful conversion to center back, but it looks like Aaron's transition has been smooth.

3. Finishing the Job

This was the fourth time since July that the team has conceded a goal while playing with a man advantage. In each of those instances, the game ended in a draw when it could have ended in a win.

Learning how to play against 10-men is one thing, but the bigger issue in my mind is learning how to put teams away.

The Union has jumped out to a 1-0 lead in three games this season, only to finish with one win and two draws.

If you go back to last season, it's now been 14 straight games without scoring more than one goal. The last time the Union had a multi-goal game was on August 10th, when the squad shutout D.C. United 2-0. Since that victory, the team has scored just ten total goals and compiled a record of 3-6-5.

This was another game where the Union had more shots on target than the opponent – five for Philadelphia and just two for Montreal. It was a similar story in Columbus, when the Union had four shots on goal and the Crew only had two.

In fact, it's the same exact thing in every game this year.

Shots on goal: 2014

  • Philadelphia 6, Portland 2; Result: Draw
  • Philadelphia 4, New England 3; Result: Win
  • Philadelphia 4, Columbus 2; Result: Loss
  • Philadelphia 5, Montreal 2; Result: Draw

You can see that the Union have put more shots on goal than every single opponent in 2014. Right now, just four of those 19 shots on goal have found the back of the net.

The good news is that the opportunities are there. They just need to start falling.

What are your thoughts on Saturday's match? Leave a comment below. 

Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at k.kinkead@hotmail.com