Rank and File: Union at Los Angeles Galaxy
Plus some commentary from me on why I think the Union should take tonight's U.S. Open Cup game against D.C. United seriously.
Rank and File: Union at Los Angeles Galaxy
Sorry this is a day late. I've had so many projects with my real job to work on over the last day and a half that I couldn't get this up yesterday.
(For those of you who don't know, the job I actually get paid to do is working as a night editor of Philly.com's sports pages. So that takes priority. It is what it is, and it's a real job with real benefits, so I'm not complaining.)
Anyway, before we get to your ratings from Saturday's game against the Galaxy, I wanted to talk about tonight's game real quick.
The Union play D.C. United in the U.S. Open Cup this evening. The game will not take place at United's usual home, RFK Stadium; instead, it will be played at a small-capacity youth soccer complex in the Washington suburb of Boyds, Maryland.
That is just one indication of how little importance the U.S. Open Cup has on the American soccer landscape. I wish that wasn't the case. Cup competitions are an essential part of soccer around the world, and the U.S. Open Cup has been around for nearly a century.
A siginificant part of the competition's history has been written by teams from Pennsylvania. Teams from the commonwealth have won the cup 12 times since its founding in 1914.
The most famous of them is Bethlehem Steel, Bethlehem won four of the first six U.S. Open Cup titles - 1915, 1916, 1918 and 1919 - then triumphed again in 1926. That record of five championships is still tied for the all-time record with Maccabi Los Angeles, and Maccabi won its cups between 1973 and 1981.
To put that in even more perspective, the only MLS club with four U.S. Open Cups is the Chicago Fire, which last won the tournament in 2006.
Two clubs from Philadelphia have won the U.S. Open Cup. Philadelphia German-American won in 1936, and the Philadelphia Ukranians triumphed in 1960, 1961, 1963 and 1966. The Ukranians featured a pair of American soccer legends during their era of Cup dominance: Walt Chyzowych from 1958 to 1965, and Walter Bahr from 1964 to 1969.
The reason why I bring all this up is that last year, the Union went out of the U.S. Open Cup in their first game. They lost to New York at Red Bull Arena, and did so with a lineup that definitely was not their first team.
Among the starters that late April evening were Toni Stahl, Amobi Okugo, Nick Zimmerman and Jack McInerney. New York started a backup goalkeeper, a backup central defender, and Juan Agudelo - who at the time was barely out of the club's youth academy.
Even though the winner of the U.S. Open Cup has been guaranteed a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League in recent years, MLS coaches have often chosen to not take the competition all that seriously. Although I'm sure Peter Nowak and his players would like to win the tournament, I have a hunch that will be thse case for the Union tonight.
The Union are in the early stages of a grueling stretch of games against MLS' best teams. After last weekend's game at Los Angeles and this Saturday's game against New York, the Union will host Seattle, travel to Real Salt Lake, and host San Jose. Their first three games in May are away to Portland, at home against the Galaxy, and FC Dallas.
There won't be a true respite until May 21, when the Chicago Fire come to PPL Park. That game is a long ways from now.
So it would be understandable if a lot of the Union's big-name players play tonight. Still, I hope the Union take the U.S. Open Cup seriously. If MLS clubs don't give the tournament a proper share of respect, there is a real chance that the competition will fade away.
And if that happens, a significant portion of Pennsylvania's soccer history might fade away too.
You can find out more about the U.S. Open Cup on the unofficial website TheCup.US. It's run by a longtime friend of mine, Josh Hakala, and I would encourage you to check it out if you have an interest in the real history of American soccer.
How seriously do you think the Union should take the U.S. Open Cup? Post your thoughts in the comments.
Now let's get to your player ratings from Saturday's game.
Faryd Mondragón: 6.47
- "No fault on the goal, but he was lucky not to allow more. Defensive organization wasn't as sharp as previous matches" (Dan Gontkof)
Danny Califf: 5.27
- "Califf continues to look like a better player this season, making me feel bad about all the things I said about him last season." (Osager)
Jordan Harvey: 5.40
- "Tried to get forward as much as he could. Served up a very dangerous cross which Ruiz or Williams couldn't put on net." (George Hasenecz)
Carlos Valdés: 5.07
- "Lost his mark on Leonardo to concede the goal, didn't play bad otherwise, but his mistake was the difference in the game." (Nick Youngstein)
Sheanon Williams: 5.13
- "Williams was OK, but curiously halted some of his runs down the flank - he needs to have the confidence to take the ball all the way into the corner and cross it, not pull up somewhere short of the box and look around for a target." (Osager)
Brian Carroll: 5.21
- "I thought that he should have been pulled for Torres instead of Nakazawa as you don't need two 'stay at home' midfielders when you're a man up." (George Hasenecz)
Keon Daniel: 5.73
- "Performed well in his debut, but didn't provide enough going forward to impact a dreadful team performance." (Nick Youngstein)
Stefani Miglioranzi: 4.00
- "Miglioranzi had one to forget. He wasted possession too many times. Either hitting it long when it was unnecessary to do so or simply playing a ball to the opposition's feet." (Gavin)
Kyle Nakazawa: 4.33
- "Kyle was all over the place, which was good and bad. Defensively, he harried that LA midfield, but he played a bit out of control offensively, hurrying passes and carrying the ball into bad spots and turning it over. Needs to be better with his deadball service, it was poor again." (Dan Gontkof)
Roger Torres: 5.50
- "Coming off the bench seems to add pressure to him. He tries to be an immediate impact player instead of letting the game come to him." (Nick Youngstein)
- "Keon Daniel seemed to bring a little more offense to the midfield, giving me a little hope that if only Roger Torres would come on, a goal was possible. Unfortunately, not even Torres, the closest thing we have to a playmaker, was enough." (Osager)
Sebastien Le Toux: 4.60
- "Seems to be missing on his first touch this year Mmaybe his ankle? Hope he finds it fast. Still a great work rate." (Steve O.)
- "Love Le Toux's work rate, but all the running around doesn't accomplish anything unless he [a] gets the ball and [b] does something with it. He didn't do either on Saturday night." (Fake Peter Nowak)
Jack McInerney: 4.33
- "Really disappointed in JackMac going ballistic, but the way that game was going, it didn't surprise me." (Ethan)
Danny Mwanga: 3.86
- "Looked lost out there. Then again, he got no passing service to give him something to do. They could have had him mic'd up and let Twellman interview him during play. He would have been less bored.' (Nick Youngstein)
- "Dear Danny Mwanga: this isn't American Football and you're not a wide receiver. You need to do more than sprint down the field, waiving your arms." (Fake Peter Nowak)
Carlos Ruiz: 4.14
- "His only contribution of note was to get Chris Birchall sent off." (Mark Nakahara)