US internationals Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley led the Canadian-side into PPL Park, but it was Giovinco who stole the show and the three points. Fernando Aritiguieta thought he had pulled the Union back level as the Blue and Gold were taking control of the game, but was judged to be offsides on the attempt. Replays would later show the call was too close to really confirm or deny the call on the field.
So where does this leave us after 10 games? No matter if you're looking at things positively or negatively, here is how you can look at the Union at this moment in time:
Vitoria, Noguiera, and Lahoud go down injured forcing a centerback partnership of Marquez and White. Go ahead and try to tell me you expected this game to end with anything less than a 3 or 4 goal loss for the Union. Despite the overwhelming attacking talent in Red, the stand in center backs did an admirable job. White's strength of, well...strength was on show as he refused to let Altidore push him around. It was obvious as Altidore continued to position himself further and further outside so that he could try to pick on the smaller Ray Gaddis. Marquez also looked comfortable beyond his experience, winning several aerial duels, standing his own ground, and even getting in the face of Giovinco when the Atomic Ant sent himself tumbling in search of a fabricated penalty.
Much like the match up with Real Salt Lake the partnership between Maidana and Fernando is showing signs of life. Injuries have refused to allow the players to build on any momentum that may help make them one of the most dangerous duos in the league, but there were hints again as they were finally on the field for 90 minutes together. Twice Maidana sent a cross into the box to his fellow South American and the header went just over in the first half and found the back of the net in the second, before being called back for a debatable offsides. Fernando's presence also gave Maidana a clear crack a goal that clanged off the crossbar from a near perfect volley. Watch these two in the coming weeks.
One last shout out from this week goes to Zach Pfeffer who refuses to back down to anyone who gets in his path. The debate earlier this year was if his elbow against Dallas was dirty, but he is showing that while he may not be a dirty player, there is still a grit to his game that was not seen in his previous cameos. It is obvious why he is getting minutes with the first team this year. Late in the game he tangled with Jozy Altidore, let him know he didn't appreciate the way Altidore was playing and the American international kicked out at Pfeffer. The assistant referee saw the incident and started to react, but didn't have the guts to call out the USMNT star. Hopefully the Disciplinary Committee has the back bone to step up and suspend the attacker. It's key for Pfeffer to continue to get under the skin of opponents while also maintaining his own cool. That will hopefully start leading to an advantage this season.
The season started off with a 5 game winless streak and after a single win, the Union are now sliding back in the midst of a 4 game winless streak. This time the team can't blame M'Bolhi as the easy scapegoat. The team is filled with under performing, injured, suspended, or just not good players at this point. And it is not pretty.
To highlight a few of the current lows there is:
- Injuries to Nogueira, Vitoria, Carroll, Bird, as well as a new injury to Lahoud and Blake who is still apparently not healthy enough yet,
- CJ Sapong pulled a Peter Vermes and completely let down his teammates, coaches, and fans by not being mature enough to call a taxi when he was unable to drive after a night out. Beyond who he let down, his actions seriously endangered himself, anyone who may have been in the car with him, and anyone else on the road. No matter how you slice it, driving under the influence is not acceptable.
- LeToux and Wenger still struggle for form. Wenger's runs at least showed some promise, but his footing really let him down on a run through the box in the first half. Both players are ice cold in the form category and without any players to really push them for playing time (Ayuk is still a young untested commodity) there's really no end in sight to that lack of form.
- Last and probably the most bizarre one is the play of McCarthy. The Columbus game was a nightmare, but he continues to prove he's not ready for this level. While the free kick goal was a great take from Giovinco, probably the best player on the field, 35 yards is still a very far distance to score a free kick from. The wall should have been 2 at most since such a long distance goes against what the wall is there to do with plenty of space for the shot to rise over the wall and the dip back under the post. His positioning was also dead center in the goal, but he didn't look like he was ready for the free kick to be taken, got a terrible jump on the save, and couldn't get across half of his goal as the ball traveled such a long distance.
The real point to make about McCarthy is that the keeper nearly injured himself when he put too much into a throw that ultimately was a turnover and led to a Toronto corner kick. As he went to throw the ball it looked like he launched himself forward, landing on his head in a failed front flip. There is absolutely no way you can explain what happened on that play.