Manager John Hackworth was very blunt about the Philadelphia Union’s 2-0 loss to the New England Revolution on Saturday, calling it “probably our worst performance of the year so far.”
He probably could have left out the word “probably.”
What went wrong at Gillette Stadium? And how can the Union fix it heading into Saturday’s home match vs. Seattle. Let’s take a look in this week’s “Inside Doop.”
Three thoughts from Saturday’s game
1. This is as much a knock at the midfield as it is against the defense but the Union’s marking was pretty miserable, especially in the second half when New England banged home two goals, doubling their total on the year. Afterwards, center back Jeff Parke lamented that the Union “didn’t follow runners and didn’t do enough to keep them wide” as the Revs attacked with numbers up the middle of the field. That’s a problem of organization, and the Union need to hope it doesn’t become a season-long problem.
2. We already know Jack McInerney is an expert finisher, and we know from the past that fellow forwards Conor Casey, Sebastien Le Toux and Antoine Hoppenot can score, as well. But Saturday’s game was beckoning for one of the midfielders to give the strikers a reprieve and find the back of the net –- but it didn’t happen. Both Michael Farfan and Danny Cruz set each other up for great looks but neither player was able to finish. And even though Cruz made some great runs to get behind the defense, those misses turned out to be critical.
3. Honestly, the Union would be wise just to scrap this game and move on. The Revolution were due to break out of their season-long scoring drought and they were clearly inspired in what was their first home game since the Boston Marathon bombings. Games like this happen, especially on the road. The Union need to forget about their trip to New England and move on.
Three questions for the week ahead
1. Despite the two teams being on the other sides of the country, the Union have played many big games against the Seattle Sounders over the years, including their first-ever game at PPL Park three years ago. What will be in store when the Sounders pay a visit to PPL on Saturday (4 p.m.)? One storyline to potentially watch is Parke playing against his former team while hoping to lead his new team to its first shutout since mid-March.
2. There was a point in Saturday’s loss to New England when Amobi Okugo made two great defensive plays and started a string of sharp passes –- from Cruz to Sheanon Williams to McInerney and then to Keon Daniel. But when Daniel got the ball, he made a one-time pass into a crowd of five New England players, turning the ball over. It might not be fair to single out just one bad play, but it seems as if it’s time for Daniel to be removed from the starting lineup in favor of Designated Player Jose Kléberson. As color commentator Alejandro Moreno said during the broadcast: “It’s time for him to feature for this team. You bring a Designated Player because you’re going to play him and he’s going to be an important part of this group.”
3. While much attention has been given to World Cup champion Kléberson riding the bench, it seems some people have forgotten about Gabriel Farfan. The midfielder-turned-left-back-turned-midfielder-again was a regular starter for much of 2011 and 2012, but has played only 177 minutes so far this season and just three in the past three games. Has he fallen out of favor with Hackworth, or is there just not a good place for him on the field at this point?
Stat of the week
Through eight games this season, Union midfielders haven’t scored a single goal and have accounted for only three of the team’s 12 assists.
Quote of the week
“They’re a decent team but we made them look a lot better than they were.” – Parke, following the loss to the Revolution
Player of the week
Despite failing to score with a close-range shot, Michael Farfan looked strong in the attack and was one of the few bright spots of a mostly miserable game.