Soccer is often times a beautiful sport filled with breath-taking passes, scintillating footwork, and incredible feats of concentration and precision. Last night’s 0-0 draw between the Philadelphia Union and the LA Galaxy was not one of those times.
The Philadelphia Union’s announced starting XI said they would be playing their traditional 4-2-3-1, however functionally the way they lined up was more of a 4-1-4-1 with Haris Medunjanin alone between the lines and Alejandro Bedoya playing up a bit higher than a traditional 4-2-3-1 might typically suggest for a midfielder.
The match that followed was without question a sloppy, miserable, plodding affair barely resembling the sport of soccer.
The highlights, if you want to call them that, of this match for the Union boiled down to Andre Blake’s ability to make saves and keep the Union in a match they probably had little business being in. Although Blake was not without a fair bit of luck as well. In the 21st minute, Emmanuel Boateng set up Joao Pedro for a direct attempt at goal from a few yards outside the box. Pedro smashed it, and Blake made a diving effort to redirect the ball but Blake just barely missed it. Instead the ball rattled off the post then ricocheted parallel to the goalline off the other post wherein it bounced out of danger and into the waiting arms of Andre Blake.
Andre Blake continued to prevent the ball from going into the net throughout the night, stopping all three of LA Galaxy’s shots on target. So much as the Union could have a man of the match in this one, Blake was it. Otherwise, the Union mainly utilized conservative tactics that did little to generate any attack, although LA Galaxy lacked in other real high quality chances themselves beyond the aforementioned two-post ricochet.
The closest the Union came from scoring, if one can even call this close, occurred in the 68th minute. Running with the ball, Medunjanin fired a speculative shot from distance that forced LA Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe into a diving save, albeit a diving save he handled rather easily.
There would be no near-miss in the second half. No last second push at goal as stoppage time entered. Not even a Jack McInerney LA Galaxy game-winner in the final minutes of the match that every Union fan in the world just knew was coming. It never came, because this match was a black hole of nothing.
Fortunately, and more importantly, not everything in the match was useless, uninteresting doom and gloom. In the stands, a more heart-warming and feel-good took place as documented by Fox Sports’ Kayla Knapp on Twitter.
A young boy, maybe 10, told his friends off for using the "p" word on goal kicks at the LAG-PHL game tonight and it made my heart so happy— Knasty Knapp (@KaylaKnappFOX) April 30, 2017
Well at least something good came from this match.
Up next for the Union, they will return home for a meeting against their
New York New Jersey rivals at Talen Energy Stadium next Saturday. Even if it gets worse than this, at least it figures to be more interesting. One way or another.