It's been a tough week or so for local soccer fans. The Union dropped a punchless 1-0 game in Chicago on Saturday night. The loss dropped the Union to 0-3 with a -4 goal differential. The Union and Toronto FC are the only teams in MLS yet to earn a single point.
Not so coincidentally, TFC are the lone team keeping the Union from the bottom of Avi Creditor's SI.com MLS Power Rankings.
Things don't get any easier this week as Sebastien Le Toux returns to PPL Park for the first time as a member of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Le Toux scored in his Whitecaps debut and has helped to lead Vancouver to an early 2-0-1 start. Unsurprisingly, Le Toux has played every minute so far this season. ESPN.com's Jeff Carlisle previews Le Toux's return.
In somewhat brighter Union news the club announced that they'll face Aston Villa in a freindly at PPL Park on July 18th. Fellow Tottenham Hotspurs fans, the Lillywhites will play New York Red Bulls at Redbull Arena on July 31st.
El Salvador rubbed even more salt into local fans wounds by eliminating the US U-23 team from Olympic qualification in heartbreaking fashion - scoring a goal in the final minute of added time. In light of another letdown on the international stage Ives Galarcep has an interesting take on the larger issues plaguing US Soccer.
One potential positive thing to emerge from the US U-23's? The play of Freddy Adu. Jonathan Tannenwald of The Goalkeeper blog suggests that Adu needs to bring that passion and fire back with him to MLS.
Another positive? The Union will not have to worry about losing Adu, Amobi Okugo, or Sheanon Williams to the Olympics over the summer (not that Okugo ever really sees the field).
Author Simon Kuper, who wrote the fantastic "Soccernomics", takes a closer look at the tactics and philosophy employed by Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. This is a must read for anyone who has ever marveled at how the Blaugrana play.
It certainly helps Guardiola that he has the greatest player in the world on his team. Fredorrarci from The Classical posted a fantastic piece on why Lionel Messi refuses to dive - and what it says about him and us.
MLS.com introduces a new feature whereby they'll examine and employ sabermetric analysis in evaluating team and player performance. The first post includes a brief teaser on the counterintuitive reality of possession statistics.