Sometimes after losses, especially on the road, Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth will say that his team deserved better. Other times, he’ll lament how a bad call turned the tide of the game.
But following a 1-0 road setback to the San Jose Earthquakes in a game that started on Sunday and ended on Monday in the East Coast, Hackworth didn’t try to present an optimistic outlook or make any excuses. Instead, he blasted the team’s performance, calling it “unacceptable.”
Why was the Union manager so upset after the game? And where does this loss leave Philly in a very crowded playoff picture? Let’s take a look in this week’s “Inside Doop.”
Three thoughts about Sunday’s game
1. Amazingly, the Union drew their 11th red card of the season when San Jose’s Rafael Baca was sent off in the 57th minute following his second yellow. But, in what’s been a troubling trend, the Union failed to assert their dominance despite playing up a man and couldn’t erase a 1-0 deficit. The Union did have a couple of decent scoring chances -- namely, Sheanon Williams’ header off the post -- but still couldn’t capitalize on the open space in the midfield that Baca’s ejection should have created. Sadly for Philly, whether they’re up a man or not, those midfield woes have also become something of a troubling trend.
2. Adding insult to injury was the fact that Shea Salinas scored the game’s only goal, a classy finish in the 15th minute. It’s been nearly three years since Salinas left the Union after playing in Philly during the team’s 2010 expansion season. But the combination of how he left (he said he was told by former manager Peter Nowak that he would be protected in the 2010 expansion draft but was left exposed and then taken) and the fact that he’s turned into a nice player away from Philly probably still has some Union fans thinking about his departure. Both Salinas and Justin Mapp -- another winger the Union lost in an expansion draft -- would look pretty good at PPL Park right now.
3. Credit must be given to the Union backline for getting through Amobi Okugo’s two-game suspension with just one goal allowed. After shutting out Montreal and Golden Boot leader Marco Di Vaio last weekend, they were similarly able to slow down 2012 Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski and the rest of the 'Quakes. It certainly could have been worse without Okugo, who had played every minute at center back this season until his suspension for a red card and yellow card accumulation.
Three questions for the week ahead
1. The Union are winless in their last four games and Hackworth is clearly upset. But will that mean he shakes up a lineup that has been pretty much the same over the past month? He’s been fairly consistent with his lineups so it’s doubtful he’ll do anything too drastic. But the cries for playing a more creative midfielder like Kleberson or Roger Torres will almost certainly grow louder this week.
2. The positive news for the Union is that they are unbeaten this year following a loss, boasting an impressive 4-0-4 record. Can they keep that going for Saturday’s home game against the Houston Dynamo at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., The Comcast Network)? A win for the Union would be a big swing as Houston is one of three other teams fighting with them for one of the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
3. How much longer will Philly’s offensive slump last? As a team, the Union have scored just once in their last 375 minutes, with zero goals coming from their strikers. With every game that passes, the pressure will continue to grow on leading scorer Jack McInerney, who’s now gone a whopping 11 games without scoring. The Union will also need some more from Conor Casey, who now has been held scoreless in four consecutive contests.
Stat of the week
The Earthquakes attempted 16 corner kicks on Sunday, which is tied for the fifth highest total in MLS history. The record was set by the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), who attempted 19 in one game in 1999.
Quote of the week
“We’ve got to hold ourselves accountable to a higher standard than we did tonight. That level of play is unacceptable for this club and this organization, all the way around.”
– John Hackworth, following Philly’s 1-0 loss to San Jose
Player of the week
Not many Union players were at their best Sunday but Sheanon Williams had another solid game, filling in admirably for Okugo at center back before switching to right back later in the contest and providing good service. And he was very unlucky his second-half header didn’t go in.