Playing with identity
If there’s one thing MLS pundits praise the Philadelphia Union for, it’s having their own identity. By no means was this showcased on Wednesday night.
The Union didn’t just play down to their opponent, they abandoned the intensity that has made them so successful. Philadelphia pushed the couter forward, but did so lazily and gave up easily (see Mikael Uhre’s lackadaisical backheel at the endline in the second half).
The defensive laziness goes without saying. The Union aren’t much if they aren’t invested in how they play, and Wednesday showed a worst case scenario.
Pushing the ball forward
Outside of Cory Burke making himself the man of the match for twenty minutes, the Union didn’t really get much out of their forwards. To their credit, this was more due to the Union’s failure to create a real attack than anything else.
Mikael Uhre had a bad game. Julian Carranza was under-involved. Cory Burke dropped off. Chris Donovan, well... They most certainly could have produced more, but that only matters if they get real opportunities on net. If there’s one thing that the Union can look at in film, it’s how they can improve their offensive pressure. It’s been a flaw all season, and a poor showing gives Jim Curtin and his crew a chance to really nit-pick.
Is losing a good thing?
Eventually, the Union have to lose. That’s the way sports work. Maybe this loss will be good for the long run.
A long series of ties, while frustrating, doesn’t weigh on a team’s conscious the way that a poor loss does. Especially after a big win over a rival, the Union have the chance to reset. Wednesday was a chance for everyone on the Union to play some of their worst possible soccer. Now, it should be out of the system.
Philadelphia can now look to Columbus as they try to recover points in the midwest.