Three things you might not have recognized in Saturday's rainy slugfest against Montreal
Look, there’s no sugarcoating it.
The Union is in a goal scoring funk. The good thing about any funk is that it’s temporary.
There isn’t a player among this Union collective that doesn’t believe that this current streak of coming up just shy of three points will soon subside and the DOOP song will be loud and proud once again at PPL Park.
Against Montreal, there are positives to take from a tough contest and pointers you may not have witnessed. There were many factors that made it hard for the club to break through and pull points from Stade Saputo. After careful review of Saturday’s game tape, here are some of the things we found that are positives heading into this weekend’s match against Seattle (10 p.m., The Comcast Network).
1. Numbers don’t lie.
It’s especially frustrating to see Montreal on the winning end of Saturday’s final score considering the Union yet again dominated the opponent in the numbers game. The one that you may not know is the number of entries into Montreal’s penalty area. The Union impacted Montreal’s 18-yard-box a staggering 49 times to Montreal’s 17 over the course of the 90 minute affair. What made it hard for the Union to equate those entries into goals and points on the board was just how hard Montreal dropped its lines to protect the narrow 1-0 lead following Felipe Martins' goal in the 14th minute. Much like Houston did a week earlier with condensing the space in the middle of the park vertically; Montreal crunched the defensive third horizontally, which made getting clear looks extremely difficult.
Check out the highlights of this one…we wouldn’t lie to you.
2. The “Impact” of Danny Cruz
Earlier in the week, in a conversation with John Hackworth, the Union manager told philadelphiaunion.com about a desire to see Danny Cruz return to action for his ability to “stretch the game” and “run at the opposition.” Cruz did just that down the right flank, creating a ton of chances in front of Montreal’s net and was a major catalyst in the number of final third entries (59) and runs into Montreal’s box (42). A pair of his best chances generated came early starting with this one in the eighth minute. Cruz’ quick passing down the sideline and then run to create a possible play back across the field forced the Impact defense to keep tabs on him at all times. In the 30th minute, Cruz was at it again with a diagonal run into the box and a shot on goal.
And with perhaps a clearer, stronger shot on frame, Union forward Andrew Wenger might have had his second goal in a Union uniform – against his former team, no less – as Cruz was the catalyst on this chance, cutting back into traffic and then laying a nice through ball into space for Wenger to pounce on.
3. Eric Shertz’ became bigger than the game.
It was a rough loss for the Union, made even tougher behind the passing behind one of the team’s most dedicated supporters in Sons of Ben original Eric Shertz. Shertz, 38, died in his sleep earlier in the week, something that resonated not just among the Philadelphia Union family, but with other clubs supporters groups. The beauty though was the outpour of support in Shertz’ honor. The Union wore black armbands and held up a jersey with “Shertz 10” adorned on the back prior to the start of Saturday’s match.
During its game in D.C., United supporters strung a large banner in RFK to show their support for the family, friends and loved ones of a guy who stuck by the Union through thick and thin.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 27, 2014
— Pablo Maurer (@MLSist) April 26, 2014
— Marios C Sfantos Esq (@mcsfantos) April 27, 2014
— Sons of Ben (@SonsofBen) April 27, 2014
Think of something we missed? Leave it in the comments below.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org