What a game that was! Wow, the Union finally looked like an actual soccer team for the first time in a long time. A proper midfield made me tear up a bit as they strung passes together and dribbled through space without having horrible touch after errant pass. While we were all enjoying the prowess of the Union's new found midfield, we weren't quite ready to give up that dream and bathe in the nostalgia of years' past. The Union did not disappoint to bring back fond memories of collapse and heart ache, as literally in the last seconds of the game, Philadelphia fell asleep and allowed Gaston Fernandez to gently nudge a deflected ball into the back of the net.
The draw will begin the 2014 season in wonderful fashion as many, myself included, didn't expect the Union to compete in this season opener. On the other hand, it will begin the "Dropped Points Tally" for 2014. The tally stands at 2 and hopefully stays relatively close to that. The problem is, with such a good game we just witnessed, who is a fault for the draw?
So I asked the staff here at the Brotherly Game, who was to blame for Philadelphia dropping these points?
Let's see what they thought.
JCEscobar - I blame Hackworth for his senseless subs and lack of defensive choices on the bench.
Andrew Stoltzfus - Carroll. The turnover that led to the corner was careless at best. He should have held possession to run out the clock or at least play the ball over the top and make them chase into the corner.
Eugene-R - It was a death by a thousand cuts. The subs weren't the sole reason, neither was Carroll's clearance, or his errant flick-on, nor was Hoppenot's lackadaisical jog back on that set piece... But when you put them all together, it all contributed to two points that (as last season showed) could mean the difference between playing soccer in November and watching soccer on TV in November.
Justin F. - For me, I really prefer not to dwell on the negative here. If I had to assign blame to one person (player or manager), it'd probably be Carroll, but Carroll had been playing a real solid game so I'm not sure what blaming Carroll exactly accomplishes. Fernandez should not have been left unmarked even if it was Carroll who ultimately fed him the ball, but it would be a gross mistake to overreact to that.
bluetooner - I don't put any blame on any individual for what happened. We fell asleep, late in the game, in a difficult place in horrible weather. If it continues through the year then it's an issue, but we played well. How many of us really thought we would get anything from this game? Let's see how things go.
unionoscopy - After Jack's goal the Union had only 33% of the possession, so the tying goal was only a matter of time. Unfortunately it came before time ran out. The only "thing" I can find blame in is the lack of experience in playing together because a more experienced team would be more assertive in gaining possession and lessening the opposition opportunities.
RohnJossi - Carroll. Though he had a solid game, he was too quick to boot it on a number of occasions, including the sequence that led to the corner in stoppage time. Fernandez should've been marked, but Carroll's decision to flick the ball into his own six-yard box was terrible.
phillyhoosfan - Carroll's to blame for Portland's equalizer, but I should add before that he had a good match. Overall, I was very happy with the performance of the Union for 93 and a half minutes against a potential MLS Cup contender in one of the league's most hostile environments.
The blame is not to an individual and I could point at a number of players that led to the last sequence where Portland scored. Maurice Edu, Brian Carroll, and Amobi Okugo were all complaining to the official about something, whether it was the time or another issue. None of the three were in position to defend. Austin Berry comes in as a late fourth player to complain it seems, as he points at his wrist walking towards the ref. I could be misinterpreting that, but it's clear that the team was unfocused and unprepared to defend the corner. I could blame Antoine Hoppenot or Ray Gaddis for completely forgetting to mark Fernandez at the back post, certainly some blame goes there. Carroll could get extra blame as well for his inadvertent clearance perfectly to the head of Fernandez, but I am not as sure as others are.
The blame goes to the team. Plain and simple. The team did not have the urgency that Portland had at the end of the game and it cost them. This is a fixable mistake and I'm glad it occurred on the first game of the season as opposed to the last. The bumps in the road for getting this team to gel are far less than what we all considered they would be. If focus at the end of the game is our biggest concern, I'll take it gladly.
Philadelphia took a huge leap in the product on the field late Saturday night, let's not abandon ship because we have yet to exorcise the demons from years past.
Let us know what you think in the poll and comments below!