The month of August was a month of mediocre Union soccer. A win here and there, a tie once or twice, some heartbreaking losses and a dumb red card to close out the month. The Union went 2-2-2 in the month of August with key wins against the Montreal Impact in Didier Drogba's debut and a win against the Chicago Fire to advance to the US Open Cup final for the second year in a row. The Union also drew Orlando City FC 0-0 and Chicago 3-3 only four days after defeating them in the US Open Cup semifinals. The Union lost to the New York Red Bulls 3-1 In the beginning of the month and closed with a 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution. Both losses were played at PPL Park, which does not bode well for the US Open Cup final.
In the month of August, there were some standout players.
Sebastien Le Toux: Sebastian Le Toux had an amazing August, scoring four of the Union's six goals, including two game winners against Chicago and Montreal. Due to this he quickly jumped up in the Union's scoring leaders this season, trailing CJ Sapong by only one goal. Le Toux looks to be in fine form just like he was in 2010-2011 when he had double digit goal tallies by the end of the season and fans will hope his form continues.
Cristian Maidana: Its no surprise that Maidana has been a key part of the Union's offensive ability, leading MLS in assists with 14 and constantly dazzling defenders with fancy footwork and ball skills. Chaco recorded three assists in August, all of which came in the 3-3 draw against the Chicago Fire on August 16th. The Union will be missing their key playmaker when they face the San Jose Earthquakes in California on September 5th as a result of a very late red card in the last game of the month.
Andre Blake: In the mess that is Union goalkeeping, Andre Blake has finally earned a starting position and has been impressive since seizing the opportunity. Blake has only conceded one goal in his two starts and has made a lot of impressive saves in his games against Montreal and New England. Blake will look to be the Union's starting goalkeeper over John McCarthy, but the real question is whether or not Blake will still have a starting position when Brian Sylvestre returns from a hand injury.
As always, there were some slackers in the month of August as well
CJ Sapong/Fernando Aristeguieta: The two strikers combined for only one goal and one assist in the month of August, and considering the Union either lost or drew games that were very close, that is unacceptable from a club's top two strikers. Another key issue with their form in August was that a 31 year old winger scored more than two of the key strikers that were brought to the Union. Hopefully Sapong and Aristeguieta can find form again in the month of September and give fans a playoff push and a US Open Cup title.
Tranquillo Barnetta: Since being signed in late July, Barnetta looked to be a very promising signing, as we landed one of the top free agents in the world and got him for very little cost. Fans sat on the edge of their seats waiting for his debut and so far, he has failed to deliver on the hype fans had. Barnetta has a contract with the Union through the end of 2016 which gives him plenty of time to make an impact on the team, but so far the transition has not been smooth. He has made crosses that go to no one or plays through balls to places where no one is making a run to. I have a lot of hope for Barnetta and believe he can still be a great player for this team, but he needs to mix well with the team and learn the playing style first.
What else can the Union do?
With the playoffs looming, it seems as though the Union will miss, being in last place in the league and struggling to get results against good clubs. My personal opinion is that the Union should take it easier in the month of September as the playoffs are unlikely and we have tough games. The Union should focus on winning the US Open Cup in front of their home crowd to give the fans something to cheer about. Do not write out the Union from the playoffs either as the Eastern conference is tight, but winning the US Open Cup is far more likely than the Union making it to the playoffs, much less bringing home the MLS Cup.