Originally posted on Total MLS  |  Last updated 5/22/13
The past week the Union were scheduled to play two regular season matches against the LA Galaxy and the Chicago Fire. The crew began the week with a shaky start when they loss to the LA Galaxy 4-1, but they redeemed themselves when with a 1-0 win over Chicago. Statistically, the potential for a Union victory against the Galaxy seemed plausible with the Union at 4-3-3 and the Galaxy at 4-3-2. However, the aspiration the team carried into the game was hindered early on when a corner kick was deflected off of Zac MacMath’s face and into the back of the net in just the third minute of play. Optimism was replenished to Union fans when Union defender, Amobi Okugo scored his second goal of the season in the 23rd minute for the equalizer. The goal came off an astounding throw into the box from halfback, Sheanon Williams. Okugo then hastily headed the ball beautifully past LA keeper, Carlo Cudicini. A close call came in the 45th minute when LA Striker Robbie Keane appeared to score what looked like the Galaxy’s second goal taking a rebounded ball off the Union goal post and booting it to the back of the net. Seconds later, however, the goal was called off by the assistant referee on the sideline. The feasible ability of young Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath was presented in the 59th minute when he made a huge save. Robbie Keane played a solid ball to Landon Donovan who cut by Union defender Ray Gaddis and found himself one on one with MacMath. MacMath aggressively came off his line to pose for a solid block. But MacMath’s bold play was soon forgotten when Donovan took control of the ball just outside the box and looked to see Robbie Keane wide open and just on the cusp of being offsides. Donovan played the ball to Keane who was wide open and put the Galaxy up 2-1 after going one on one with MacMath. It was a play MacMath, should have been able to stop.   Up by one, the Galaxy buried the Union when Donovan once again played another through ball to Hector Jimenez who had been wide open in the box. He finished the ball nicely and gave the Galaxy a 3-1 lead the score again the result of poor play by  MacMath. After an unsuccessful  lineup adjustment by Union coach Hackworth who put three men in the back in effort to play a more offensive game, LA scored its fourth goal in the 87th minute as the Union’s Keon Daniel left Landon Donovan wide open in the box letting him  gain possession of the ball. Despite an aggressive standpoint by goalie MacMath, Donovan easily dribbled the ball past him for LA’s fourth and final score eliminating any chance of a Union comeback.   One positive observation I saw during the game was the play of Philadelphia’s newest signing, Jose Kleberson who played an astonishing game. The Brazilian got his first start start for the Union and played the entire game.  His talents came through full force, and it was apparent that he was a well rounded veteran of the game. He was aggressive and provided a much needed spark to the team’s midfield. Lead by Union captain Brian Carroll, the Union midfield has been weak area for the team all season. Despite being an MLS veteran I feel he doesn’t really give anything to the team. Coach Hackworth might consider passing the captain’s armband to someone else.  Although only with the team for a short time Jeff Parke would make a nice choice if he were he not injured.   The Union improved their recorded to 5-4-3 three days later with a 1-0 win over the visiting Chicago Fire.  The victory was only their second home win of the season.  Given the Fire’s poor showing so far this year (2-7-1), the win came as no surprise. Played in a steady rain, Jack McInerny  provided the game’s only goal and was all the Union needed as the forward scored his league leading 8th goal of the season. The goal also matched his personal season best.    Assisted on the score by veteran Sebastien Le Toux, the goal came at the match’s three minute mark as the Frenchman took a pass deep in Chicago territory from defender Barkary Soumare who then footed a picture perfect pass to the streaking McInerny who headed the ball from six yards out past Fire goalie Sean Johnson. The assist was Le Toux’s league leading fourth of the year. Chicago nearly got the equalizer 15 minutes later were it not for goalie Zac MacMath who blocked a close in blast from the Fire’s Patrick Nyarko.  McMath preserved the Union lead once again in the 60th minute tipping a Dilly Duka shot over the crossbar. Coming off one of his poorest performance versus the Galaxy earlier in the week, McMath redeemed himself by playing one of best games of the season against the Fire finishing the night with six saves and earning his third shutout of the year. Still his inconsistency  is more than frustrating to Union fans. Sometimes he comes off his line, other times he doesn’t. Yes, he does make a great save  every once in awhile but I feel he needs to mature as a goalie and fix his mistakes. Along with the stellar play of McInerny and McMath, midfielder Jose Kleberson played a solid game. After playing 90 minutes against the Galaxy, the midfielder, on loan from Esporte Clube Bahia, got his second start of the season. Kleberson was aggressive in the midfield and had chances to score. And according to Coach Hackworth, displayed the skills that have made him a quality player in the English Premier League. The task of overcoming the Union lead was made that much harder as Chicago played a man down from the 62 minute thanks to the second yellow card of the game was awarded to Fire’s Wells Thompson who pushed down and injured Union midfielder Danny Cruz.  Yes, it would have been nice for the Union to have scored during the one man advantage, but a win's a win. In news off the pitch, the Union’s brotherly duo of Michael and Gabe Farfan is no more as Gabe was traded to Chivas USA in exchange for a draft pick. Personally I think this is a good trade. Stuck in last place and probably going nowhere, a last place finish could ensure the Union a first round pick which is huge. And while a decent player in his own right, losing Gabe isn’t anything to get upset about. (image courtesy of Greg Carroccio)
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