The Good: Bend, but don't break
Dropped points against the Colorado Rapids and questionable red cards had the Union on the edge of collapse. Not in the position to be able to throw away points it seemed like the 2 points dropped against Colorado would be followed by more as both central midfielders would miss time.
That isn't how things played out.
With a mismatched back line, a new central mid pairing and an aging striker playing on short rest, the Union pulled out a performance that was exactly what was needed; a convincing dismantling of hated New York Red Bulls. The goals keep coming from Casey who has turned back the pages on his career and continues to play more minutes than anyone expects. Sebastien Le Toux is red hot and a goal from Grandpa Fred was a nice bonus (also coming from great set up play from Conor Casey).
The draw with the Chicago Fire wasn't nearly as pretty or convincing, but it did show one positive. Even without their creative, driving force in Cristian Maidana, the team was able to stay in the game and find a way to earn a point. It was the type of gutsy draw that a playoff team needs to know how to pull out late in the season.
The Bad: Missing Maidana
While it was a positive to see the team pull out a result without him, it was not a good overall performance. The stats all favored Chicago as they led in total shots, as well as shots on target, passing accuracy and total passes, possession, crosses, and corners. The offense lacked the spark that Maidana has brought recently and there was no sign of who might offer a replacement.
It took a terrible call to finally go the Union's way to earn a last second penalty kick to save the game. The Union can't afford to fall back into the "Pray for penalty kicks and own goals" offensive strategy if the playoffs will be a possibility this season.
The Ugly: Silly Season
The transfer windows are the best and worst time of year. Once again, Carlos Valdes fills the headlines swirling around the Union. First reports leaned towards Valdes never coming back to the states. That's when there were tweets about missing wages and the centerback was on his way back to Philly. Just when you thought you had it figured out and were dusting off your Valdes kit, there is doubt as to what is actually happening. I won't believe anything until I see Valdes in a starting lineup from here on out.
Along with Valdes has been Union front office claiming to be looking the world over for a striker to play up top and score goal after goal. What do Union fans get? A rumored, and all but confirmed, sighting of an international goalkeeper. How the addition of a keeper makes any sense with the improved play of Zac MacMath and the number 1 draft pick in Andre Blake waiting in the wings, is beyond me. If the move happens it means there are major moves in the works and you can expect for trades to happen for MacMath and quite possibly Blake as well. Maybe in the end it leads to a proven MLS striker. Once again, all we can do is wait and see.