Union show fatigue in loss to Salt Lake; seek revenge at Yankee Stadium


The Union had opportunities to start strong, including a Fafa Picault attempt that was cleared off the line. Philly had a few more chances at the beginning of the match during the run of play, but nothing came of it. Throughout the match, the Union regressed back to their uninspiring play reminiscent of the beginning of the season. The bottom line is, they showed real fatigue in the loss to Salt Lake last Saturday. The team that had won four in a row was a mere shadow of themselves.


Players were noticeably fatigued:


The Union’s fatigue came from playing four matches over the last two-and-a-half weeks. Players who had logged a lot of minutes; Bedoya, Onyewu, Ilsinho, Pontius and Gaddis, all looked gassed.  Bedoya found little of the ball, and had little impact running around the midfield stopping RSL attacks. Onyewu looked slower than usual, and was out of position on the goal scored against the Union. Ilsinho did little to start the attack as he had been doing in the previous matches. His movement and passing were off, as was the Union’s attack.

Pontius didn’t do much in the match either. When he was not targeted down the wing, he was useless in the attack. He was also slow to get back and help the defense. Gaddis seemed out of sorts. He was defending for his life against RSL’s fast winger. He held RSL’s attack onside on the goal, and didn’t do enough to challenge the scoring attempt. Gaddis also offered little going forward when he had space to do so. While everyone logged a lot of minutes over the last few weeks, another problem was team defense.

Team defense beat the Union:

Over the previous five matches the Union’s team defense has been stellar conceding just one goal. The stout defense has been led by Gaddis, Elliot, Onyewu and Fabinho. Two of the four were noticeably fatigued this past match, and were at fault for the goal conceded. The Union’s midfield has also been great at getting back and helping the back four; creating a compact area that was hard to break down. So let’s get to the goal.

As Philly Soccer page pointed out, the Union players didn’t do well during the loan goal sequence. In the sequence leading up to the goal, the midfielders did little to compress in order to stop the attack. This cause a lot of space for RSL to work passes. This led to simple RSL one-twos that cut through the defense.

A ball from Savarino to Plata drew the defense in. Plata played the ball back to Savarino. Gaddis and Fabinho kept him onside, while the Union midfielders put their hands up for offside. Plata left Onyewu and Elliot in the dust; Savarino played the ball to him, and he placed the ball past Blake. The Union’s fatigue definitely played a factor in this cross-country match. The loan standout from the match was Andre Blake, saving all but the one effort. The Union have an even harder road match this coming weekend, but it should be one that everyone will be up for.

Revenge at Yankee stadium:

Back in April NYCFC came to Talen Energy Stadium and beat the Union down. Including David Villa’s half field goal, which served to put an exclamation point on things. The Union get their chance for revenge this weekend at Yankee stadium. NYCFC played already this week against New England to a two-two draw Wednesday night. NYCFC rolled out a strong squad for their midweek match, and it’s likely that certain players will be tired or reduced to a substitute role as a result.

As far as getting revenge on NYCFC, the Union can find success on NYCFC’s uniquely small field through the middle of the midfield.

Who’s gonna play in the midfield?:


The usual central midfield won’t be able to contribute for the Union this week. Alejandro Bedoya has been called up for US Mens National team duty ahead of their World Cup qualifiers. Haris Medunjanin also got called up for World Cup qualifiers by Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was supposed to report for national team duty June 1, however, Haris decided to play in the match against NYCFC and then report. This helps the Union’s shape and structure.

Medunjanin will likely play next to Creavalle. This will help the Union control possession in the middle of the pitch. Creavalle’s ability to win the ball, and Haris’ ability to distribute, should help the Union’s attack find success.

The Attack needs to be lethal:


Sapong’s ability to hold the ball in the attacking area, and his goal scoring ability make him the target for the Union going forward. On this small field his skills are exponentially more useful. Any ball in the air from Medunjanin and the back line can find him. If Sapong is able to tun and shoot or provide, then he’ll have a strong day. The supporting midfielders; Pontius, Fafa and either Ilsinho or Alberg need to make smart runs in the small space, This can create mismatches against NYCFC’s defense which will most likely suffer from playing a second game in a week. The attacking efforts should be there, but the defense will be called upon to respond better than last week.

Defensive response:


The Union’s defense was the weak spot last week. This coming week the defense will have less field to cover to stop the attack. After last week, the Union will likely have sured up the way they respond to quick attacks. Which is a good thing, because NYCFC thrive on quick attacks with great passing. If the Union’s back line and midfield can stay compact when off the ball, then they should be able to stop NYCFC’s attacking style. Let’s face it, David Villa is David Villa – meaning he’s hard to stop, and can always create something out of nothing. However, again, the Union’s ability to be compact, and defend as a team, should benefit them on a small field.

If Medunjanin and Creavalle gel well, Sapong is on the ball to create offense, and if they can be compact and defend as a team, then the Union have a good chance in this match. Where we should expect at least one point from this match, if they can do all of these things listed above to perfection they just might be able to take home all three points. This will be the Union’s last match until they start US Open Cup play June 14th, so they should leave everything out on the field.

The Union take on NYCFC Saturday at 1 pm. Be sure to follow me on twitter @TGing21 for live tweets, re-tweets, and soccer twitter fun. Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for a recap of all the MLS action from the past week, a recap of the US-U20’s win in the round of 16, and a preview of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers.


Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports