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

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Union-Crew postgame: Quotes from Curtin, Carroll on 4-1 loss

Jim Curtin isn't one to mince words. The Union delivered a performance in Saturday's 4-1 loss that earned them no right to sugarcoating. And that's what they got in Curtin's postmatch assessment. Some quotes from Curtin in Columbus:

Jim Curtin

On the match:

I actually thought the first 15 minutes, our guys came out and played very well. From that point on, we got embarrassed for the rest of the first half. We came in at halftime, talked about guys showing more commitment, showing me who wants to be on the field and be with the group. I thought we actually pushed the game a little bit and had a decent second half. But credit to Columbus. They’re a great team. They’re in good form right now, they’re confident and I think they’re a top team in our league.

On what to take from the game:
We’ll look at the tape. We’ll probably have some changes to our XI, that’s for sure. Any time you give up four goals, there’s some issues in the whole group. So we’ll look at it from the forwards all the way back to the goalkeeper and we’ll evaluate everything in between and put the best group on the field to get a result against Toronto.

On how the team will react:
They’re professionals, so they’re embarrassed. We got our asses kicked tonight. It’s unacceptable. We have to get up off the mat, though. We want guys that are going to stick with this thing. I learned a lot about a lot of players tonight, and the guys that stuck with it and pushed and the guys who bailed out. You want to be able to look yourself in the mirror after the game and say that you gave everything. That’s what we talked about before the game, and I think we got a lot of answers especially in the second half, and guys stuck with it.

Brian Carroll
On the match:
I thought the guys kept fighting even though we didn’t start off well and we had to claw ourselves back. Everyone stuck together and kept on working for one another. Shows me we’re still together and we’re ready to pick ourselves up and do better going forward.

On preparing for Toronto:
Really, we’re just looking for a win any way we can get it. Whether that’s making our own luck, whether that’s luck that happens, we’ll take it. We just want to stick together, work hard and do what needs to be done to get a win.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

'Here, that's not a foul': Aristeguieta on adjusting to MLS's physicality

Fernando Aristeguieta is voicing his opinion
on what it takes to get a foul called in MLS.
The consensus among new arrivals to MLS is that the league’s physicality is among the most difficult aspects of the league to get acclimated to.

Fernando Aristeguieta is not exempt from that adjustment, a process which has forced the Venezuelan forward to recalibrate his definition of a foul.

It’s been fairly obvious to those watching Aristeguieta this season that he’s taken a beating. But he’s still getting used to what constitutes a foul and what the requisite level of punishment is to get a foul called in his favor.

Aristeguieta, near MLS’s lead in more auspicious categories like shots (fourth with 25) and shots on goal (third with 12), is tied for 20th in fouls suffered (15). He’s second on the Union in that category, trailing only the 17 fouls incurred by Maurice Edu. Five of those fouls came in the opener against foul-happy Colorado, including two punished by yellow cards.

It doesn’t help that the on-loan forward has suffered a pair of non-contact/accidental injuries, partially tearing a quad and getting stepped on by Sporting Kansas City’s Ike Opara to fracture his ring finger.

Aristeguieta’s ability to take those injuries in stride shows that he’s a gamer. But stomaching the inconsistencies of MLS refereeing is a more difficult feat.
Read more »

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Union-Revolution: Lineups and pregame observations

UNION (4-2-3-1)
Sapong-Maidana-Le Toux
Bench: Blake, White, Fabinho, Carroll, Ayuk, Casey, Wenger

New England Revolution (3-5-2)
Bench: Knighton, Tierney, Fagundez, Bunbury, Okoli, Hall, Neumann

- The Union make three changes from Thursday against New York City FC. Eric Ayuk and Andrew Wenger get breaks, while Vincent Nogueira’s right ankle apparently fails its fitness test. In steps CJ Sapong as essentially a wing forward, while Zach Pfeffer slots into central midfield in Nogueira’s stead. Also returning is Cristian Maidana, who’ll operate as the central prong of the midfield triumvirate.

- Fascinating XI from the Revs, who’ll go with a 3-5-2 (on the sheet at least) without Jose Goncalves and with three defensive-minded midfielders. It’s a very attack-minded squad overall, with Charlie Davies and Juan Agudelo pairing up top.

- The Union are going to face a battle trying to get through the Revs, who haven’t conceded a goal in 208 MLS minutes. That starts with making life uncomfortable for Jermaine Jones, who played 45 minutes last week in his return from offseason hernia surgery. The Maidana nod has to be due, in part at least, to Jim Curtin wanting to fill the space behind the forward line and occupy Jones, not letting him freelance and pick off long passes.

- The same duty is incumbent on the Union’s central midfield paring of Michael Lahoud and Pfeffer. Though Lahoud and Nogueira have played well of late, they’ve done so against a fairly flat midfield of NYCFC that is still trying to figure itself out. The Revs, with the interchanging of Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen, are much more dynamic and can hit you from a much wider range of positions and angles.

- This is a big chance for Pfeffer. The debate still rages, even among those that have seen him play since he was a youngster, as to what his best position in the pro ranks is. He seems to bring more steel (and perhaps not enough creativity) to be an elite No. 10, but a deeper lying role that showcases his box-to-box ability may be for him, and this is a chance to show that.

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Union-NYCFC: Lineups and prematch observations

UNION (4-2-3-1)
Le Toux
Bench: Blake, Marquez, White, Maidana, Carroll, Casey, Sapong

New York City FC (4-4-2)
Velazquez-Jacobson-Diskerud- Grabavoy
Bench: Meara, Watson-Siriboe, Poku, Ballouchy, Calle, Mullins, Shelton

- The big name missing for the Union is Fernando Aristeguieta, who recovered from a broken finger but suffered a quad injury late in the week. That means the only Union player to score this season won’t take part. That leaves Sebastien Le Toux to lead the line, though with Conor Casey and CJ Sapong waiting on the bench, there are options if the Union can’t get the attack going that they want. This is a game where Jim Curtin has game-changing options (Cristian Maidana, Casey, Sapong) on the bench, and he can't be shy about pulling the trigger.

- Zach Pfeffer’s return to the lineup allows the Union to utilize the 4-2-3-1 again. Vincent Nogueira passes fit, and Michael Lahoud is preferred to Brian Carroll in the holding role, while Eric Ayuk gets another start.

- Sheanon Williams is back from two games out with a hamstring issue, which is good timing since both Fabinho and Raymond Lee are out, leaving Ethan White as the presumed fullback cover. The bigger ripple effect might be that Ray Gaddis and Andrew Wenger get a chance to reestablish chemistry on that left flank. Not having to cover for Fabinho might allow Wenger to get forward more often.

- The focal point for NYCFC is David Villa, and the Spaniard is back after missing time with an adductor injury. He and Adam Nemec give NYCFC a variety of options up top. They can counterattack effectively if the Union pour numbers forward, and Mix Diskerud will be running at the central midfielders when NYCFC is in possession.

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