The Good: Chances
It was difficult to pull much from this game in the good category. Vincent Nogueira has been sharp in the midfield, zipping all across the field, but failed to have any impact on the final third of the field. He's by far the best Philadelphia Union player, but has offensive shortcomings. So the one thing that was impressive was the amount of crosses and passes put into the box for the Union offense.
The Union tallied nine corners throughout the game, and D.C. United was forced into making 50 clearances - twice as many as the Union on the day. It was just too easy though for the home side. Conor Casey fights valiantly in the box, but beyond the bruiser in the middle, there really is no other influence there. One thing that should be pointed out was the blatant penalty call missed in the first half. Casey went to cut in front of Hamid on a cross and never made it because of a clear shoulder charge to the middle of his back by D.C. center back Bobby Boswell. How that was missed is beyond me.
The Bad: Substitutions
For the third straight game the players brought in to the game have had little to no impact on the game. Against the Seattle Sounders in the US Open Cup Final the gap in talent was the difference in the game. Seattle's Obafemi Martins was too much for the Union defense to handle and was the tipping point in Seattle's win.
Against the Houston Dynamo the team was tired, sluggish, and lifeless. None of the subs coming into the game lifted the side to a much needed win. The tempo and flow of the game remained the same, and there wasn't ever a point where it felt like the team got better because of who was brought on. Much the same can be said about Saturday afternoon against D.C. A lifeless offense showed no greater signs of breaking out of their shell after Danny Cruz, Brian Brown, or Pedro Ribeiro entered the game.
Now, I'm not trying to say that it is all the fault of the players, even if their talent level is a huge drop off as compared to the starters. There is a level of responsibility that falls on the shoulders of Jim Curtin. A second forward has never been brought on the field without taking Casey off the field. The big man remains stranded on an island up top or on the bench, never as part of a forward partnership. There is a lack of creativity in the subs and the majority of them remain like for like changes. Is the "interim" coach out of ideas already?
The Ugly: Missing Offense, if found, please return to Philadelphia
Once thought to be one of the leagues most exciting offenses, putting up multiple goals game after game, the question is now turning from "When will the Union score again?" to "Will they score again?" The Union have not scored in 262 minutes,off off a free kick. Take that and the Sebastien Le Toux penalty against New York out, it has been 349 minutes since scoring from open play. Those are some scary numbers.
As touched on before, the ideas seem to have run dry. Each game, it is the same Starting XI run out in the same formation, trying the same strategy, and the results have run dry. Casey is up top by himself. The wingers have little influence inside the box, other than crossing. Cristian Maidana and Nogueira form a great passing tandem through the middle, but both offer little to nothing in the scoring department. With Nogueira and Maidana given more free roles, Okugo is set with the task of protecting the back four and can't get into the attack.
The attack has worked best on the counter attack, but there seems to be a simple way to breakdown the Union offense - score first. When the Union have given up the first goal, they have only earned 3 points under Curtin in the 14 games he has been in charge. When giving up the first goal the Union have lost to DC 1-0, tied New York 2-2, lost to Houston 2-0, tied Sporting KC 1-1, tied Chicago 1-1, and lost to Dallas 2-1. The New York game though was one where starters were brought off the bench and made a major impact, and the Chicago game was saved by a stoppage time penalty. Both games were loses without being saved by a referee making a call and LeToux slotting home a penalty like he always does. Even under John Hackworth, the Union haven't won a game after giving up the first goal of the game.
Something has to change to spark the Union offense to life. Four more games, three of them at home, and 3 points to make up behind New York. Plenty of work to be done, not much time to get it done.