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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Sunday, August 12, 2012


(Times file / COLIN KERRIGAN)
First impressions are a funny thing. For Bakary Soumare, who made his first appearance for the Union with only 13 games to go in the season, his first impression carries significantly more weight.

“You've just to go to be able to string together a few wins,” Soumare said. “You've got to go on a streak and, next thing you know, you're back up there with everybody else. You're right. The window is closing, but it's not closed yet.”

Soumare's first look at the Union – from the pitch at PPL Park – was ugly. The Union dropped a match in befuddling fashion, looking lost in a 3-1 loss  to visiting Chicago. They lacked energy and form, defended poorly and really – really – hurt their playoff chances.

Late-sub Lio Pajoy (pictured) and the Union got bullied by the Fire. At no point did the Union give their fans an indication that they were going to win the match. That's a bad sign for a club that needs a lift just to get back into the race.

Listen, it's difficult to sit here and declare the Union as a non-contender for the MLS Cup Playoffs when they have a baker's dozen left on the schedule and a few in hand against the teams they're chasing down. But this one had ugly written all over it.

“It's an extremely disappointing match,” said Union interim manager John Hackworth. “It's not the kind of performance that is acceptable to us in any way, shape or form. That being said, I would take some responsibility for that result, as well. I don't think our team was ready for Chicago in the first half and, clearly, that is my responsibility.”

So where to from here? Well, the Union are 15 points out of the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. A win would've slimmed that deficit to nine.

“It's one of those games in-conference,” Soumare, the centerbac
k, said. “It's a six-point swing and, especially at home, you want to get these points. Not only do you want to get these points, but you want to avoid (letting) the teams ahead of you to get those points.”

The Union aren't making their lives any easier.
  • Hackworth said Gabriel Farfan played in the midfield, occupying Michael Lahoud's slot, and Ray Gaddis took over Farfan's at left back because they “deserved opportunities.” Hackworth added: “I wanted to make sure I gave guys opportunities when they've really been working hard in training.”
  • Sheanon Williams has a nickname for Soumare. He calls him 'The Moose.'
  • These last two defeats – at Montreal, vs. Chicago – represent the first losing streak for the Union in Hackworth's tenure as coach.

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