Let me say something before we even begin. There were three Union games over the space of seven days. That's a lot of soccer, and it is unlikely any team will win all three of them. If there is one of those games to lose, it is on the road against Houston. the Union have to beat the worst team in the league at home, and being able to host (and possibly win) the US Open Cup final is a can't miss opportunity. Therefore, it was a very productive seven days for the Union. With that said, here are this week's game-changing moments.
1) Three Games in seven days is a lot of soccer, 2) Two games in four days in the heat and humidity of Texas is almost a punishment, and 3) Jim Curtin didn't take this into consideration.
It is a lot to ask anyone to play all out soccer for 90 minutes 3 times a week. When you add in extra time, it's even harder. It may sound like excuses, but it's true. When Sebastien Le Toux, the guy that seemingly can never stop running is asking to be taken out of the game, you know it's been very tiring.
When you look at the players who played in all three games:
- Maurice Edu - all 3 games, 300 minutes (plus injury time), plus the All-Star game and travel to his schedule.
- Ray Gaddis - all 3 games, 300 minutes (plus injury time)
- Vincent Nogueira - all 3 games, 278 minutes
- Sebastien Le Toux - all 3 games, 264 minutes
While those guys played all those minutes, Zach Pfeffer, Leo Fernandes, Aaron Wheeler and Austin Berry got nowhere near the team. Brian Brown didn't play in the last game (not even on the bench) and Fred had only 22 minutes of play. Jim Curtin underused his squad in the Houston game. The following line-up may have been a better idea:
Another time that "tired legs" hurt apart from the two Houston goals was when Le Toux couldn't race through on goal when an Andre Blake punt found him clear of the defense. Instead of racing closer, getting a better shot, Seba decided to shoot from distance and it was an easy save for Tally Hall. Le Toux has plenty of confidence right now, but just perhaps the legs were too tired to run the extra 5-10 yards for an easier shot.
For Houston's first goal, it was all too easy as the ball into space behind a high line was run on to by Giles Barnes, and he easily picked out Will Bruin in the middle to tap home. When you think back to the FC Dallas game, there was a lot of similar balls played behind the Union defense. That time, other than the FC Dallas goal, MacMath was always in a position to come out and play sweeper. Blake didn't seem as confident doing that.
Would Blake have got to the ball and cleared it for the first goal? Who knows. It is difficult to pinpoint his starting position on replay. However, he was never in a position to do anything to stop the goal in reality.