Pegged as the "Start of a New Era", today’s season opener at Dallas seemingly picked up right where the Club last left off.
The overall performance was uninspiring, and aside from Andre’s heroics, there were little positives to take away. Here are a few of my thoughts, following the Union’s 2-0 loss.
I’ll start with the obvious: Fabinho, as well as the rest of the backline, cost us today.
Time after time, it was a careless pass, sloppy touch, or just plain laziness that gifted Dallas chances. While it was expected of the rest of the backline, which lacked the experience, to be exploited by a very good Dallas side, there is no excuse for Fabinho’s performance today.
Curtin took the risk of leaving Marquez and Gaddis on the bench. He trusted Fabinho to not only step up, but also provide necessary leadership to the rest of the backline. Instead, Curtin was returned with a mediocre performance at best from the Brazilian.
Jim deserves to take just as much of the blame; He got it wrong today.
My hope is this will be a learning opportunity for the new guys, who were thrown right into the thick of it. Going up against the likes of Fabian Castillo, as well as Mauro Diaz is certainly no small task. And to be fair to someone like Keegan, he did the best he could.
Fortunately for us, Dallas did not have their shooting boots on today. Otherwise, we could have witnessed a massacre.
We desperately missed Barnetta and Mo in the midfield. (As did Sapong)
In all due respect to Brian Carroll, who has been a true professional throughout his MLS career, he’s not a formiddable option to start at holding mid.
Sure, the guy works his ass off, and there’s no doubting his committment to the Club, but holding mid is a physically demanding position. Given his age, I just don’t think he can go the full 90′ week in and week out.
If you look at players in his position throughout the league, they are younger, and able to cover more ground. You don’t have to look far. In the East, there’s Bradley for Toronto, McCarty for New York, as well as Tchani and Trapp for Columbus.
Again, containing the Diaz’s and Castillo’s of the league can be tiring. Getting Edu back as soon as possible will be important for us.
Barnetta is equally as important to our success going forward. It’s obvious that we look to play up the middle of the park. While we certainly have the capability and players to do so, it’s going to require keeping everyone healthy, and that goes for Tranquillo as well.
With Tranquillo out of the fold, several players suffered. Nogueira lacked players to interchange with. Sapong sought more service, in order to deliver on his promise. The sooner we get the Swiss International back the better.
As he showed at the end of last season, he is a midfield engine, and everything moves through him. Barnetta reduces the workload of the guys behind him, such as Vincent, by running down players and dribbling hard at opposing defenders. In the process, he creates necessary space both out wide and in front of him, which benefits Sapong going forward.
Perhaps a glimmer of hope for fans was newest signing, Roland Alberg, who came on late and looked dangerous, combining with players around him. Fans have to be salivating over the thought of a healthy Barnetta-Nogueira-Alberg trio.
Blake stood on his head.
Sha’ll I say any more? An impressive eight save performance from the Jamaican, who wore a f@#%ing cape today. I have no doubts about Andre as our number one going forward.
It’s important we get key guys back to full health. In the meantime, it’s up to Curtin to pick the best eleven available to him, as well as establish chemistry in the locker room. The sooner new guys feel comfortable, the better.
While there’s no doubting it’s a new era in Philadelphia, with an overhauled team under the guidance of Earnie Stewart, it’s important that the Club establishes its’ new identity sooner than later. Fans demand more than what we saw today.