After a bad loss against the LA Galaxy, there was no time for rest as the Philadelphia Union headed home to face the Seattle Sounders and Montreal Impact to end a busy week of Soccer. When you mention the words monsoon and Seattle in the same sentence, many Union fans will remember back to the game in 2011 where the weather resembled Saturday's weather. The end result back then was a draw, and this year the monsoon weather also contributed to a draw. How did it do so, and how did the Union get three points from the Seattle game?
1) Clint Dempsey ripping up the Seattle playbook.
The Union weren't the only team playing a lot of soccer in a short period of time. However, while things went well for Philadelphia, they didn't for Seattle. It all started in the U.S. Open Cup game where they lost Obafemi Martins to injury and Clint Dempsey showed an ugly side to his game when he threw away the referee's notebook before ripping it in half leading to his sending off and subsequent three-game suspension.
Not only was Dempsey unable to play, but Obafemi Martins, Osvaldo Alonso and Chad Marshall also didn't take part. Therefore it was a Seattle team without their four best players. It seemed like they weren't going all out for the win, instead keeping players in reserve for their Cascadia cup game against Portland last night (which as of writing this was not going well for them). Thank you Clint and Sigi for handing the three points to Philadelphia.
2) Maurice Edu.
I really could have had a whole article just following the exploits of Maurice Edu in the two games. Coming off a game where he was far and away the worst player on the pitch against LA Galaxy, he would have been itching to make up for it against Seattle and Montreal. However, he wasn't very successful at doing so.
In the Seattle game, after Andrew Wenger took a kick to the face, Philadelphia Union had their first penalty of the season. With guaranteed penalty goal Sebastien Le Toux in the stands with an injury, it was the Union captain who stepped up to take the kick. Unfortunately, just as the Rochester Rhinos did in the U.S. Open Cup, Edu stuttered his way towards the ball, hoping that Stefan Frei would move early. He didn't, and Edu couldn't get enough power into his shot to beat the experienced keeper. A chance to get back on the positive side of fans opinion was gone.
On to the Montreal game, and you could certainly say that Edu had a part in both of the Montreal goals. In the first, he jumped into the Ignacio Piatti fake shot with both feet, and that left him out of position. Piatti then ran by Richie Marquez and stroked a great shot into the back of the net. For the second goal, it was Edu who gave the ball away just inside the Philadelphia half. One pass and Jack McInerney was off doing what he does best, scoring a goal.
Of course, it wasn't always negative from Edu. He did a decent job dealing with the Seattle attack, and finally got a goal after a few bad misses recently, when he was in the right place at the right time to mop up a Fabinho shot spilled by Evan Bush. Going forward, maybe the goal will bring some confidence for Edu to go back to being one of the top performers on the Union, as he certainly has that ability within him.
3) Erik Ayuk.
While there are certainly things that Ayuk will have to learn to be a consistent performer in MLS for the Union, he is still far more of a spark plug for the Union team than Andrew Wenger is right now. Within seconds of coming on against Seattle he made a lung-bursting run into the box to get on the end of a cross into the box. On Saturday against Montreal, he was flipping around in what was almost a swimming pool having finished off what could be the goal of the week.
Of course, just like there were some positives with Ayuk's play, there were also some negatives. In the Seattle game, with the team were 1-0 ahead, instead of going into the corner to finish the game off Ayuk tried to do more, and lost the ball quickly, much to the annoyance of Jim Curtin. Then on Saturday Ayuk had perhaps an even worse error. With the Union team just leveled the game and were hoping to turn one point into three. They had a man advantage after Patrice Bernier was sent off earlier in the game, but that didn't last any longer as Ayuk went flying into a sliding tackle having been yellow carded earlier in the game. The end result was an easy decision to level the playing fields at 10 v 10 for referee Sorin Stoica. If Ayuk can learn more about when to hold back from challenges then there should be no reason based on current form Andrew Wenger starts ahead of him.
4) The Weather.
Yes, the weather was the same for both teams. However, any time there is a game in conditions like Saturdays it always makes a difference. Passes either get stuck up or skip along the surface. Sliding tackles always look worse than they really are. Lastly, those conditions can be a nightmare for goalkeepers. That's what happened with Philadelphia's second goal as a long range strike by Fabinho was only pushed back in front of Maurice Edu, who tapped the ball into the back of the net with ease.
Unfortunately for both teams really, neither set of players took the initiative to shoot on sight, which should have been the first thing on their mind any time they were within 30 yards of goal. If the ball doesn't skip into the net, strikers have to follow in for what is likely an easy tap in just like Edu did. There really should have been twice as many shots on goal as there was.
5) Refereeing Decisions.
It's always easy to point out refereeing decisions when discussing a game changer article, as many referee decisions, rightly or wrongly change the game. It is also easy to say the referee was wrong from our vantage point of sitting at home, or watching replays. However, when a referee has to make a decision within seconds of something happening, without slow motion or the chance to go back and look at it, mistakes are made. While Seattle referee Edwin Jurisevic erred in nullifying a goal by whistling Wenger on a non-existent foul, the Union still won that game. But things may have gone different against Montreal if not for referee Sorin Stoica.
Stoica got a decision wrong early in the game that ended up costing Erik Ayuk later on. While there was no complaints about Ayuk's second yellow card, the first yellow card shouldn't have even been a foul. Ayuk clearly won the ball, and did not impede the Seattle player despite the Seattle player being hurt. Even more confusing was the fact that Stoica continually let much worse tackles go without either fouls or yellow cards. Though admittedly, this analysis comes from the benefit of hindsight replay as live looks at the foul made the tackle seem much worse than it really was. This yellow card changed the game as Ayuk's inexperience led to a red card and a loss of the man advantage that the Union were hoping to turn into three points.
A busy period for the Union is over after the U.S. Open Cup game against DC United. Hopefully the Union can get through to the next round, and then relax, recover and get ready for the next part of the season, since they don't have a game until July 11th.