The Philadelphia Union fell to the Columbus Crew Wednesday night 2-1. The loss effectively marks the end of the Union’s playoff hopes for this season even though they may still be mathematically alive. It is unlikely this situation will turn around given the personnel available. I will spare you the gruesome details; suffice to say that the Union managed to lose a “six point” game at home against another mediocre Eastern conference team fighting for a playoff spot while being up a man.
The Union’s problems this season have been well-documented here and on the Union blogs and media. Although I feel like a broken record, let’s recap:
1. They can’t score. Or finish. Against the Crew many chances were simply missed or were off target. The forwards and attacking midfielders can’t hit the broad side of a barn. There is no coordination in midfield. After an initial increase in scoring with John Hackworth in charge, the scoring drought has returned. Fortunately, the Union have center backs that can score.
2. They can not compete for balls in the air. I have been complaining about this for the past two and half seasons. The problem is more acute now that the team is even shorter and younger than before.
3. They are ineffective on corners and other dead ball situations. This is partly an extension of the ineffectiveness in the air. However, the taking of corners and free kicks has been truly terrible. Rarely do you see a ball even remotely on target where another Union player can do anything with it. The balls are either short or go careening way off to the side or over the top of where they should be.
4. You can complain all you want about Hackworth’s lineups or substitution choices. The fact is there really isn’t much on the bench that he can do anything with. The players might be hard working, but they lack sufficient skill to be effective. I think the Union will give Hackworth a chance at a full season as it will save the expense of another coaching change. He will have to find a way to revamp the squad with the time he has.
5. The Union spend money on players. They just need to find a way to spend it more effectively. Too much money has been going to players who have had little or no impact. In particular, Freddy Adu needs to start producing or he needs to be moved on.
There are maybe six players that are clearly worth retaining – Carlos Valdes, Brian Carroll, Amobi Okugo, Zac MacMath, Sheannon Williams, and Raymon Gaddis. The rest are questionable. Of course, this off season there will be no expansion draft to take dead weight off our hands. Prior to this season, I was hoping for minimal changes and felt that the team could benefit from continuity. That did not happen. Now it appears major changes are in order.Twitter It!