Thursday, August 27, 2015

Some assembly required on Union's set pieces

What stands out the most for me from last night is what looks like an emerging problem for the Union's attack: set pieces.

Some assembly required on Union's set pieces


I will leave it to Union coach Peter Nowak to render a verdict on the officiating and its consequences during last night's 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake. That is in the audio player below.

I will also leave it to Nowak to reflect on the remarkable progress that Danny Mwanga has made in his rookie season, to a point surely beyond most expecations for Mwanga when he was drafted. Listen to Nowak's reprisal of a conversation he had with Mwanga about the U.S.-Brazil game Tuesday night. It was fascinating to listen to Nowak explain what he saw compared to what Mwanga saw.

What stands out the most for me from last night is what looks like an emerging problem for the Union's attack: set pieces.

On a number of occasions, we saw services into the box - especially corner kicks - that were either poorly sent or poorly dealt with. When Nowak talks about being more efficient, those are the kinds of plays that a team has to do something with in order to put multiple goals on the board.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who wonders if things would be different if Sebastien Le Toux was on the receiving end of corner kicks instead of the sending end. But in order for that to happen, someone has to be able to deliver an equally good service.

Le Toux deserves some benefit of the doubt on that, because he has set up goals from corners on a few occasions this season. Nonetheless, it seems to me that it might be time to give someone else a chance for a game. I am thinking in particular of Kyle Nakazawa and Eduardo Coudet. The former has experience with free kicks and the latter has shown a good ability to serve balls forward.

There's a fairly big caveat to this suggestion, though. Any change in who delivers the set pieces requires some time to rehearse the plays in practice. With yet another short turnaround before the next game, the Union don't have much time to deal with that right now. Nowak acknowledged as much in his press conference last night.

I suspect that coming into the night, a 1-1 draw with the reigning MLS Cup champions would have satisfied most Union fans. But when the final whistle blew, it was hard to not feel once again that the result could have been better.

Will Saturday finally bring the breakthrough?

More coverage
Photos: Union 1, RSL 1
Video: Union-Real Salt Lake postgame analysis
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The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, the National Women's Soccer League, the U.S. men's and women's national teams, and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Jonathan Tannenwald
Lauren Green Inquirer Staff Writer
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