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

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Revolution 5-1 Union: Counting the damage

With eight games left in the MLS season, it might be a bit premature to say that the Philadelphia Union’s playoff chances withered and died in New England during a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the Revolution Sunday night. But then again, it might not. And with the myriad problems exposed by the Revs in running absolutely rampant on the Union, there’s reason to think that this has the makings of a turning point for the worse in the Union’s season. A few reasons why:

- Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way: Yes, the Union should’ve been up 2-1 when Conor Casey had the ball in the back of the net only to be wrongly called for a foul on goalkeeper Matt Reis. But the fact that they rolled up and died in the face of that adversity and capitulated four more times in quick succession after that is a major problem that goes beyond officiating. And let’s be clear: The Revs scored five times only with so-so finished. They had another five or so golden chances where the proper final pass wasn’t picked out.

- In a match like this, the best the Union can do is quarantine the problem. They didn’t. Amobi Okugo’s pair of late yellow cards means he’s suspended for next week’s visit by Montreal (and maybe the week after for accumulation; I'd have to check on that). That’s Eastern Conference-leading MLS, fresh off a 5-0 shellacking of Houston, with MLS leading scorer Marco Di Vaio in form. The options to replace him include Sheanon Williams, who was absolutely terrible Sunday, both with turnovers and this recurring delusion with charging into the box like he’s a forward that leaves the defense exposed and outnumbered. And if Ray Gaddis isn’t healthy, then Matt Kassel plays defense? Or Aaron Wheeler? For a team challenging for a playoff spot, that’s sad.
- Time for the midfield. After an egregious error that resulted in Kelyn Rowe’s opening drive from distance, the Union brought on a lost Michael Lahoud for an injured and previously lost Keon Daniel. And with two defensive midfielders, the Revs gashed them four more times, including another Rowe drive from distance with no one challenging. The Union can tout this as them going forward looking for goals all they want, but that’s still not an acceptable defensive performance.

- Just to be clear, after about 20 minutes, with the Union in desperate need for an attacking midfield presence, they take out Daniel, who has been woeful in that role for several weeks, and replace him with Lahoud, who is not attacking in the least. Couple that with one of Sebastien Le Toux’s worst performances in weeks, including several terrible corner kicks, and it was not a playoff-worthy midfield performance, to which John Hackworth’s tinkering did absolutely nothing to help.

- Which begs the question: What it would take for Kleberson to play? He brings the type of skill that this attack needs, someone to sit off the shoulder of the strikers to that Casey doesn’t have to constantly drop into midfield and can, you know, play the striker role he’s made a living at the last 10 years. The Michael Farfan ship has sailed as anonymously as his performances since Chivas. It’s not like Kleberson is making a bunch of money, so …

- The Union have surrendered 21 goals from the 60th minute on in MLS play this year. The Revs have allowed 24 in all 90 minutes. Even if you exclude those three blowout games (LA, Montreal and this), that’s still bad. Playoff teams buckle down late.

- Hackworth has made some good subs this season. But he dropped the ball Sunday. But the time he introduced Jack McInerney and Antoine Hoppenot, it was 5-1. Hackworth has shown a reticence to make changes before. Tonight epitomized it.

- Look at the Union schedule. They’ve got a hot Montreal team next and then a trip to San Jose. It’s very likely that they could come into the Houston game Sept. 14 still short of 40 points. And if that happens, then the playoffs will have passed them by.

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September 2, 2013 at 4:22 AM 

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