10 man Union couldn’t hold off New York Red Bulls: what we learned


A 10 man Union squad couldn’t hold off Red Bull in a crucial conference match. The Union tried to cope after going down a man, and fought valiantly. However the Red Bulls persisted. A Bradley Wright-Phillips brace in the last 10 minutes of the match killed the Union’s hopes.

The Union fell short for the third straight time in league play this past weekend. A competitive match teetered on transition play and fouls committed. In the first half there were 11 fouls committed, no cards came as a result of the fouls. The first card from referee Allen Chapman came in the 52nd minute, and was awarded to the Union’s Derrick Jones. He slid into a 50/50 ball; his foot went over the ball and caught Felipe. A straight red card was shown. After fighting for thirty minutes the Union met their demise. This slump raises some questions. These questions, and the events from this match, show where this team could go in the future.

Question one: Can the Union’s attack get goals needed to win crucial games?

The Union’s attack has been up and down this year. Against Red Bull they were down. The main attacking chances happened in the first half. A main chance being shown in the video above. Pontius brings the ball down and can’t find a way past Robles. He had another attempt at the death of the first half; an open header that just missed the near post. His efforts were the main source of a Union attack in an otherwise sloppy game. Ilsinho didn’t really create anything at all. Sapong did well to hold the ball and sustain fouls, but he had an otherwise quite night. Fafa’s speed was good to start some attacks, but the rest of his game was lacking again. All this begs the question, are these players good enough to help the Union compete in the east? We’ll get to that later.

Question two: Can this back line help them get the results they need?

After starting a back line of Wijnaldum, Elliot, Yaro, and Rosenberry midweek in the US Open Cup, the Union went back to the back four they’ve been playing; Fabinho, Onyewu, Elliot and Gaddis. This Union back line has been good and bad this season. The pairing shut down opposition during the Union’s four game winning streak, and fell apart during this current three game losing streak. The back line was at fault during both goals. It was late in the match, and they were down a man, but the back line didn’t snuff out chances they could have.

On the first goal shown above, Ray Gaddis couldn’t close down Kamar Lawrence, Elliot couldn’t close down the cross and Onyewu couldn’t keep pace with Wright-Phillips. On the second goal shown below, Elliot couldn’t stop the transition play, Fabinho couldn’t stop a cross from coming in and Onyewu again couldn’t keep up with Wright-Phillips. It may be time for another shake up on the back line. Could that possibly be going back to the back four that played in the Open Cup?

Question three part 1: What can we expect going forward defensively?

Yesterday the back four for Bethlehem Steel was the back four everyone expected from the Union in May. Wijnaldum, Marquez, Yaro and Rosenberry logged in a 90 minute win with Steel. This had a lot of people thinking of what this could mean for the future of the Union’s back line would look like heading into a three match in eight-day span. It’s hard to figure out the players who will be on the back line. Coach Curtin offered some explanation in his midweek presser (video below).

Curtin talked about needing to have two separate back lines for the games against DC this weekend and Red Bull in Open Cup play next Wednesday. This is probably why he had Wijnaldum, Marquez, Yaro and Rosenberry play at Bethlehem last night. The process of deciding who the four will be in both matches will come down to the judgement of the eight defenders fighting for the four spots. It’s likely the four picked for this coming weekend’s match won’t play in the Open Cup, and the four that don’t play Saturday will be the back four for Wednesday. This seems like an interesting way to get the best back four on the field, but who knows, it could be just what the Union need right now.

Question three part 2: What can we expect going forward offensively?

Getting back to the subject of the attacking problems, the Union seem to have an inconsistency problem in their front four. As of now the only shake ups appear to be bringing back a healthy Fabian Herbers for one of the wingers, substituting Alberg for Ilsinho and maybe playing the $500,000 dollar striker they bought (Jay Simpson) over CJ Sapong. Shaking up things could help the offense click, or make it fall apart even more. Something has to be done to combat the inconstant offense, but that likely won’t be done until the transfer window opens in July.

The real need still seems to be a true number 10 playmaker. This could help the entire starting offense click. Wes Sneijder is on the market, and while he may be expensive, he’s the caliber of player the Union would want pulling their strings offensively. Adam Maher is a name that also been thrown around; he’s a younger number 10 that gives you the same talent level as Sneijder, for a somewhat cheaper price tag. Only time will tell if the Union address this issue in the transfer window.

The Union dropped crucial points to Red Bull and now have to shake things up with three matches in eight days starting on Saturday. The Union need a rebound with struggling DC coming to town on the weekend they could find it. As of now Philly is still only two wins out of sixth place. Righting the ship could help them get back into the thick of the eastern conference.



Follow me on twitter @TGing21 for Soccer Twitter fun! Coming soon: An in-depth look at the Union’s defensive lapses, a look at the problems the offense is having, and a preview of the Union’s match vs DC.  Until then, peace out!


Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports