The Good: Bye, Bye, Hackworth
Originally I was going to go with the Union's ability to focus - even if for just a short portion of the game to come storming back and show what this team is actually capable of. In the beginning of the year there was a buzz around the team because finally there were creative players in place that could be a devastating offensive force. A team that was supposed to be able to bury other teams in the blink of an eye - and we finally saw that in action. Too bad they were digging out from a two goal hole rather than burying the opponent.
Instead of talking more about that short span of attacking brilliance, the best part about the Vancouver game was the end of the John Hackworth era. With yesterday's announcement of the firing, the Union are now able to turn the page on a frustrating year and a half and start moving forward. There were no more excuses this year for Hackworth after he was given free rein to change the team and make it his own. Now there will be no more of Hackworth blaming everyone but Hackworth for the problems plaguing the team.
It's a good day to be a Union fan.
The Bad: Ups and Downs
The Union have still failed to put together a full 90 minute performance this season. Chivas USA would be the closes to that, however, it is hard to call Chivas USA an MLS opponent. There have been soaring highs, such as the previously mentioned offensive outburst against the Vancouver Whitecaps, but there have been equally drastic lows, such as the first half against Vancouver.
While the saying goes you're never as good as your best performance and never as bad as your worst performance, the Union need to find a way to level out the performances and bring the average performance to a much higher level. Zac MacMath can't be expected to make huge save after huge save and bail out the defense as much as he has. On the other side of the field, the forwards need to finish with much greater efficiency than has been shown this season. Conor Casey has shown well the last two games, but can he keep it up?
The Ugly: What Could Have Been
Portland - 2 points dropped
Montreal - 2 points dropped
Chicago - 2 points dropped
Seattle - 3 points dropped
Vancouver - 2 points dropped
From a winning position, the Union have dropped eleven points this season, while only gaining one point (Real Salt Lake) from a losing position. The team discipline has been lacking when up a goal, and whoever is brought in as manager must learn to get the team to focus in the second half and close out games. A prime example was just this week - there is no way a team should get a breakaway late in the game when up a goal like Darren Mattocks did.
The difference in the standings between the Union and first place is only eight points. With anywhere from one to five more games played than the teams sitting in the playoff spots, the Union now face an uphill battle. If they were able to close out games and win at least six of those eleven dropped points, the pressure would be on other teams to play catch up when they are playing a more bunched schedule this fall. Instead, the Union have to play a major game of catch up while playing against a stacked deck. Games against Eastern Conference foes become doubly important, and those teams can afford a draw against the Union. Anything less than a win against these teams is another nail in the Union's playoff coffin.
All that being said, after the World Cup break, its a whole new season.