Heading into the match, Union were riding a wave of high expectations for their play against DC United. Their opponent was the team that the Union beat for their first MLS win ever. United was sitting in the cellar of the MLS with a measly 12 points from all matches. The Union, on the other hand, was only two points away from moving into a tie with Chivas for third lowest points in the MLS and just four points away from moving into a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Instead of accomplishing any movement towards a playoff push, the Union put in a horrid show, falling 2 to nil to United. Failing to gather any points leaves the Union stranded in second to last place in the MLS and continues their recent five game winless streak. If one is to include friendlies and the United game, the Union are winless in their last eight and have managed to only take four points from those eight games (only three of those coming in MLS play).
The beginning of the game looked promising for the Union as their offensive play struck hard at United but could not find the back of the net. Then disaster struck when a cross into the box was not cleared by Danny Califf, who slipped and fell, was slotted home by United’s Danny Allsopp. From then on, the Union provided little magic and fans watching the game must be shaking their heads. “Today is another reminder that this is an expansion year,” said Kyle Shank, managing editor of sbnation.com’s Union blog, The Brotherly Game.
Rain poured on the heads of the players prior to the end of the first half, just causing more mistakes by the Union and little success outside of their own back third. Thankfully, United was not able to push its lead even further as the Union defense withheld assaults prior to half time. To sum up another half of Jekyll and Hyde play by the Union, Ben Feldman, also of The Brotherly Game, said, " And the enigma that is the Philadelphia Union continues."
Second half play did not improve for the Union. It’s possible that Moreno’s early substitution (injury) in the first half changed the outlook of the game but that does not excuse what was soon out on the field. Allsopp found goal for a second time and DC United was atop a comfortable lead, 2 to nil.
Once again the central midfield provided almost nothing for the strikers and Le Toux was forced to move everything looking to create. Mwanga was basically a no show because there was no steady stream of passes for him to do anything with. Coudet can be filed under “unable to perform” because he has shown absolutely nothing since the Celtic friendly and Fred may have been hampered by a slight injury. Miglioranzi still has not displayed the creativity or skill that made him into a Portsmouth player. The introduction of Nakazawa did little to quell the poor play of the midfield and basically signaled the end of any chance the Union had to return fire.
This team is missing a couple of pieces and it won’t be able to fully right the ship probably until after the season. However, it is most certain that the return of Shea Salinas is vital to the form of the team for the remainder of the season. His versatility and pace are game changers for the Union. It allows them to strengthen their fullback position opposite Harvey or to provide much needed width to their play in the midfield. At the very least it will force Nowak to take such names as Coudet or Miglioranzi off the field occasionally.
A collective “Ugh” should be uttered by Union supporters after today’s game. It is well deserved.