Early this morning, ESPN published a piece from Graham Parker titled "Philadelphia Union have no shortage of heart but club's vision is lacking." It's a sobering read, and one that really rings true after the Union dropped three points at PPL Park to the New England Revolution in a 2-1 defeat. Jim Curtin is a positive leader in what for him is a no-win situation who says the right things and really, truly means well. But tactically speaking, he's in over-his-head. John McCarthy is a young kid who spent last season in the third tier of U.S. soccer presented the opportunity of a lifetime. His reaction after the Union beat New York City FC last weekend illuminates how much he wants to succeed and how large his ambitions are. But he's just not good enough. The Union, flat out, are not good enough.
Despite the Revs controlling things for the first 15 minutes, it was the Union who got the game's first chance through admittedly weird circumstances. Laying a pass off for C.J. Sapong, Fernando Aristeguieta found the ball deflecting off a defender and right back to him. Nando then one touched it from an awkward angle off the woodwork and out of harm's way. A few minutes later, the Union found themselves with a lost opportunity of a different sort when Sapong found himself open in the 6-yard box to head in a free kick but Sapong lost the ball in his mask, leaving the opportunity wasted.
The Union would be the team to get on the board first, though, and it came from a moment of absolute brilliance. Taking a free kick from about 30 yards out, Maidana uncorked an absolutely beauty that goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth had no chance of stopping. It's free kicks like those that make one wonder why Sebastien Le Toux dominates free kick totals. Maidana's artistry is the Union's best asset, and he put it on full display for his wondergoal Sunday afternoon.
Despite going into the locker room with the lead, the Union came out in the second half flat-footed, both figuratively and literally. After an increasing amount of pressure and an insane substitution from Jim Curtin that saw him take out Maidana for Brian Carroll, the Revs broke through in the 64th minute. 2nd half substitute Teal Bunbury got past Ray Gaddis to be able to cross it in the box to Charlie Davies who slotted it in the net. The entire Union defense, John McCarthy included, was caught flat-footed and goal watching, making it all too easy for the Revs to score.
After picking up an assist on the first goal, Bunbury would be the one scoring the Revs' second goal. Receiving a cross from Diego Fagundez, Bunbury ran past Sheanon Williams and shot the ball past a once-again flat-footed McCarthy. The Revs led 2-1, and it is difficult to say they did not deserve it.
The Union had one chance to even the ledger, and that came in the 77th minute. Maurice Edu fired a shot from distance, but it had enough on it and it required a decent stop from Shuttleworth. It was not the greatest of chances, but on a day after the Union at times struggled to create, it was a much-needed opportunity that could have gone in. But much like this season in a nutshell, things did not go their way, and the Union ended up leaving PPL Park disappointed and defeated by a score of 2-1.
The Union have their moments of brilliance at times, but these few moments of brilliance (hi Chaco!) are overshadowed by moments of stupidity (hi Chaco's substitution) and incompetence (hi flat-footed defense and goalkeeper!). And unfortunately, things do not look to be getting better any time soon. Up next for the Union, a visit to Columbus next Saturday where the Union will be looking to get some road points.