September was one of the toughest months for Union fans, with the playoffs falling further out of reach and a second US Open Cup Final lost at home. There were not a lot of positives to take away aside from two wins in MLS and a draw against the New England Revolution with a mostly reserve team. Despite this, there were still some standouts.
Conor Casey: Though he did not start any games, Conor Casey was a deadly sub off the bench in the 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, scoring both goals less than 15 minutes after entering. He also recorded an assist in the 2-1 loss to the Columbus Crew. On top of this, Casey was brought on in the US Open Cup final and played well in that game, using his body to get balls and set up potential shots. Of the Union subs, he easily had the best September.
Tranquillo Barnetta: Barnetta looks to have finally fit in to the Union after close to two months on the team. He scored his first MLS goal against the Houston Dynamo and assisted a Conor Casey goal against San Jose and a C.J. Sapong goal against Houston. His involvement in the run of play and his movement in the attacking third have been vital to creating goal scoring opportunities, something this team has desperately needed this season. Now that he's found his stride, I'm looking forward to seeing more out of Barnetta in the coming month and 2016 season.
Andre Blake: You cannot look at the Union this month and not think of Andre Blake. Blake was a monster in the 1-1 tie against the Revolution, recording 10 saves, a franchise record. Due to this result, Blake started in the US Open Cup final and recorded five saves in 119 minutes of play. Blake has been a brick wall in goal and fans are hoping to see more of him during the month of October.
There were shortcomings in the month of September as well.
Vincent Nogueira: Nogueira was extremely quiet during the month of September. He scored no goals and had no assists all month and was not frequently involved with the run of play. For one of our best players, we needed more out of him this month to help our playoff chances and give fans hope for the postseason.
John McCarthy: I'm not going to come out and say that the US Open Cup loss was John McCarthy's fault. He tried his best and thats all that anyone could have asked. However, Jim Curtin put McCarthy in for a reason: to stop penalty kicks to win the US Open Cup, and McCarthy failed to do that. Aside from his US Open Cup performance, McCarthy only had one clean sheet this month.
Jim Curtin: This is the first time I've ever felt that Jim Curtin may not be suited to be the head coach. I've generally enjoyed the Curtin era, and that is saying something due to the harshness of the past two seasons. But some of the decisions he has made during September have bugged me. Curtin started Cristian Maidana in the New England Revolution game, which confused me because Madiana has been the highlight of the Union this year and should have been rested for the final. Curtin also brought on the struggling Andrew Wenger during the US Open Cup final for forward C.J. Sapong which many fans found troubling since Eric Ayuk has been more helpful on offense this season. Wenger would go on to miss the last Union penalty kick of this year's final. But perhaps the most bizarre substitute we saw was John McCarthy for Andre Blake in the last minute of play. Blake had been having a fine game and had just come off a 10-save game against New England, but Curtin still felt that McCarthy would do better. This is troubling since a goalkeeping change really was not necessary.
What should the Union do?
This is short and simple: Pick up the pieces of this year, come back next year ready to fight. Union fans deserve better than what we have gotten this month, and it's about time we got some different results.