If one could get points for effort, surely the Union could have gotten at least one on Saturday at Chicago. Only one team was trying to play soccer on this night and that was the visitors.
Their biggest failure was the lack of a finish, and I’m not really talking about finishing in terms of scoring chances. I’m talking about a final move or a final ball that would lead to a scoring chance, and possibly a goal.
Despite a lopsided edge in possession, the Union could only manage two shots on goal. They had more than their share of shots that went off target, but obviously those don’t get you far.
Chicago’s goals really came against the run of play, and their performance overall was below average, especially considering that they were playing at home. They went into a defensive shell as soon as they took the lead. That’s far too early to play that style, even if you are the visiting team. Chicago got the win, but even they know it was an ugly one. Still, those were three points that they needed, considering they went the month of May without a win.
As for the Union, to me, there were a couple of bright spots. You have to be impressed with Danny Mwanga who was given 45 minutes this time to find the game. Danny’s goal, his third in three games, only adds more confidence to a talented young player. I think if Philly had just two more minutes in that game, either Danny or one of his teammates would have found an equalizer.
The other bright spot was the play of Chris Seitz in goal. He was surely unlucky on the second goal after making the first save. An earlier save in the game kept the game tight when the Union were down by a goal. Credited with four saves, at least three were of the very good (or even better) category. Seitz looks more poised and confident with each outing.
The next stop is Kansas City, on Thursday. This is an opportunity for the Union to pick up points against a struggling team that is only two points ahead of Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference.
Kansas City has a strong goalkeeper, a former Danish teammate of Danny Califf, in Jimmy Nielsen. Nielsen says that Califf gave him a good report earlier when the goalkeeper asked about what life in MLS was all about. Despite Nielsen’s efforts in goal, the Wizards have not managed a win in their last eight MLS games.
I’ll have a closer look at this game later this week.
It is Philadelphia’s last game prior to a two week MLS break for the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It’s also the end of a stretch where eight of the first ten games were on the road. That’s a rough schedule for any team, much less an expansion team. The good news is that 13 of the final 20 games will be played at PPL Park.