(Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)
After the Philadelphia Union's USOC loss to DC United, my colleague Martin Shatzer of Black and Red United decided to poke some fun at the Union. He posted three questions in Black and Red United's game thread for the USOC match and tweeted about it afterward. I thought that most of what he asked was relevant not only to the game, but also the 2011 season so far. So I answered them.
1. How did it feel to see your starters lose to a collection of mostly United reserves?
Not too good. What most Union fans failed to realize was that while the Union sported an almost full strength line up, United did almost the exact opposite. It's quite disappointing to have starters fail to take a game from players who normally don't see the light of day during a MLS regular season match.
But to turn this on its head, there's no reason to be particularly happy that DCU played mostly a reserve squad (I'm told that it was out of necessity, although the Union could have claimed something similar given the New York Red Bulls are in town tomorrow). The USOC lacks proper support from MLS and its teams, as I detailed in an article here on the Brotherly Game. Part of that lack of support is that the league fails to broadcast most of the games that its teams play in (as seen with the Union - United game); the other part is the fact that most teams don't care enough about the Cup, even though winning it yields a spot in the CCL, to put together strong squads. While United may have one, there was still a loss in the way they went about handling the USOC.
2. I thought Le Toux and Mwanga were supposed to be good. Why couldn't they score against a goalkeeper who hasn't played a meaningful match since May 2010?
Bill Hamid was very strong, from the highlights, Tweeted updates and first-hand-accounts of the game. He saved not one, but three breakaways that would have placed the Union with a firm lead heading into both halftime and the end of the game. Clearly Hamid is at a level that warrants his first start of the year at MLS level.
Danny Mwanga continues to play on the wing, though he is not a winger. It's head coach Piotr Nowak's solution to the problem of how to play all three of his goal scoring talents on the pitch at the same time. Quite frankly, it isn't working. Even when Mwanga comes into the game late and is used up front, it doesn't seem to change the fact that he hasn't found the rhythm he had last year when he was a finalist for MLS Rookie of the Year. He needs to start up front, not on the wing, and not sit on the bench.
As for Sebastien Le Toux, it is clear that the Frenchman is hampered by his injured ankle and the failure to find proper chemistry in his new strike partner in Carlos Ruiz. He won't have a season similar to last year's superb year, but expect him to finish strong enough to have double digits in goals and assists again.
3. You might have a Mondragon, but we have an absolute BEAST in net. (Not a question, just a line I like using)
Faryd Mondragon stared at your computer, from afar, and made it explode.
The two goals the Union scored? Mondragon glared at the ball and the ball ran into your net. Twice.
On his saves, Mondragon didn't have to move, because the ball was afraid of going near him (hence the two goals that he didn't get his hands on).