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

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


(Associated Press)
A popular question occupying space in my inbox last week was, "Can the Union make the playoffs?" It's not out of the question. But it isn't going to be easy.

Here are three modest proposals for how the Union could make the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs:

1. Play Keon Daniel or Michael Farfan in the central midfield -- every game. 

Remember how fans lauded Roger Torres a year ago for his spurts of speed and occasional craftiness in the midfield late in matches? Even if it didn't result in an equalizer or a game-winner, Torres' effort gave those walking out of PPL Park with a sense of pleasure.

With Torres falling on the depth chart, it's time to station Daniel and Farfan there. For good. Here's why: Daniel has the size and skill to muscle opposing midfielders off the ball and win challenges. Farfan, well, he's just a beast. An underrated player at his position, the guy is as good with the ball at his feet as the get. The problem is Farfan is the opposite of outspoken and doesn't ever call for the ball.

Against Chicago, the Union had no connecting passes between the defense and the attack. They settled for long-ball plays over the Fire or shots from long range. Getting the ball to Daniel and Farfan could change that.

2. Win. Simply put, win.

Getting results has never come easily for this franchise. It took the Union one full season, until 2011, to net their first winning streak. It took a ridiculous 3-3-8 stretch to close out that season in order to make the playoffs for the first time in club history.

Still, during that run, the Union lacked victories.

Time's running out. In order to have a decent shot at making the playoffs, they need at least 46 points. With 13 matches to go, they're only halfway there, at 23 points. It's not unheralded, winning games in bunches at the end of the season, they must pull off a 2004 Columbus Crew-type span to do it. That year, the Crew went 18 consecutive matches without a loss to close the season. Can it be done? It's time to find out.

3. Play the best lineup -- even if that means making difficult decisions.

You know what Hackworth did Sunday? After the deflating 3-1 loss to Chicago, he pointed a finger in his direction. He blamed himself for the loss. Wednesday, he was at it again. In his weekly presser, Hackworth said he needs to play the best lineup possible, even if it's not a popular decision.

It's time for Hackworth to do that, and here's what that means:
  • Benching Freddy Adu from time to time because, without the ball at his feet, his work rate is lacking.
  • Starting Lio Pajoy and Jack McInerney, and bringing Antoine Hoppenot off the bench in a role in which he's most effective.
  • Sitting Mike Lahoud and Gabriel Gomez in favor of Brian Carroll and Amobi Okugo.
  • And that, of course, means slotting Bakary Soumare and Carlos Valdes at centerback.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like all your suggestions under #3. For #1, I still would like to see Marfan in Adu's spot. Even with Pajoy we would still lack the dynamic winger option without one of those our offense will continue to stagnant as Jack would be left all alone.

August 16, 2012 at 9:36 AM 

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