The Philly Soccer Page Archives for January 2011

Raves: Michael Farfan

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Photo: Nicolae Stoian

Does anyone ever really pay much attention draft picks after the first round? Maybe in the NFL where there is real depth from a wealth of college talent and combine hype. But in the MLS SuperDraft? Does anyone after the first dozen or so selections really matter?

Miglioranzi, Harrison let go

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Philadelphia Union declined contract options for midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi and goalkeeper Chase Harrison, leaving each out of contract and available for election in Major League Soccer's Re-Entry Draft.

Miglioranzi, 34, is one of two remaining Union originals selected in the Expansion Draft in November 2009, along with Sebastien Le Toux.

Header’s & brain trauma, Crew decline DP, WPS woes, USMNT/Venezuela January friendly

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Photo: Nicolae Stoian

NBC Philadelphia has a segment on the danger of brain trauma posed by too frequent heading following the release of a study at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual meeting.

You can read more about this story here.

Philadelphia Union

With the announcement on Tuesday that the Union will play its 2012 home opener on Sunday, March 18, the Goalkeeper writes, "I also would not be surprised if the Union's home opener is nationally televised.

Union 2012 home opener on Sunday, March 18

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The Philadelphia Union announced on Tuesday that its home opener will take place at PPL Park on Sunday, March 18.

The time and opponent will be announced at a later date.

The 2012 MLS season will officially commence on the weekend of March 10. Six games will take place on Saturday, March 10 at Colorado Rapids, D.

Okugo, Pfeffer in Germany, 5 Union on tour, WPS trouble

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Amobi Okugo is training with SC Freiburg after a strong showing at the Olympic camp in England.

Zach Pfeffer is also in Germany, training with the U19s and U23s of Hoffenheim.

The Union announced that they have added 3 minority investors.Â

Peter Nowak has nothing but praise for Keon Daniel and says the visa issue is still being worked out.

Raves: Jen Buczkowski

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(Photo: Michael Long)

Editor's note: At the end of the 2010 season, we posted a series of "Raves" about our favorite Philadelphia players. They need not be the team's best players, but they're guys and gals we like. Over the next two weeks, we continue the series again with some of the PSP writers' and contributors' favorite players of 2011.

Danny Mwanga & the aerial game

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Cover photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

I know a guy who, when we were growing up, wouldn't greet you with a "What's up?" or "How's it going?" or whatever.

His first question would be, "You working on your game?" The line had started with our basketball coach, who basically told us that your off-season was the most important time for the development of your game, because everything that happened next season would be determined by how much you improved before it started.

Raves: Veljko Paunovic

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(Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz)

Editor's note: At the end of the 2010 season, we posted a series of "Raves" about our favorite Philadelphia players. They need not be the team's best players, but they're guys and gals we like. Over the next two weeks, we continue the series again with some of the PSP writers' and contributors' favorite players of 2011.

More on Khalfan, Arena on foreign training stints, Chandler goal, more

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Philadelphia Union

This Vancouver blog attributes Nizar Khalfan's inability to become a regular starter with the Whitecaps to being away on international duty and being on the outs with then head coach Tommy Soehn. "Frankly, I think the Whitecaps should have kept him, and my feeling is the loss of the Vancouver Whitecaps is the Philadelphia Union's gain.

Raves: Sebatien Le Toux

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(Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz)

Editor's note: At the end of the 2010 season, we posted a series of raves "Raves" about our favorite Philadelphia players. They need not be the team's best players, but they're guys and gals we like. Over the next two weeks, we continue the series again with some of the PSP writers and contributors favorite players of 2011.

More Expansion Draft reaction, Blatter, Weekend TV listings, more

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Slim soccer news pickings from the Thanksgiving holiday. Checkout our Thanksgiving Day news roundup for extensive coverage of reaction to the Expansion Draft and more.

Union

Union Dues says Justin Mapp "has won himself into the 'Do Not Boo' list" and looks forward "to welcoming Mapp and his new team to PPL for the first time.

Nowak on Draft, Mapp, Khalfan, Daniel; Ching fallout, more Thanksgiving news

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Le Toux's turkey cupcake. (Photo: Courtesy of Sebastien Le Toux)

A Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from all of us at the Philly Soccer Page. Here are a few more holiday messages from the Philly soccer community:

Sebastien Le Toux: "Happy turkey day everybody!

America’s first footballers

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A version of this post originally was previously published Nov. 26, 2009 and Nov. 25, 2010.

Episkyros

Before soccer there was football. Lots of different kinds of football, many of which also involved handling the ball: Episkyros in ancient Greece; Harpastum in Rome; Zhu Qiu in China; Sepak Raga on the Malay Peninsula, Kemari in Japan, Calcio in Italy (which was revived by Mussolini), not too mention the various kinds of folk football that could be found throughout the Celtic world, some of which survive as the Shrovetide games of Britain.

Montreal: The new evil genius of MLS

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That five thoughts on the expansion draft post seemed to work pretty well yesterday, so with time short and you (maybe? hopefully?) interested, here are five more on how the Montreal Impact might be the new evil geniuses of Major League Soccer.

And they might just be that. Because right now Montreal looks evil, re: Brian Ching, and they look like geniuses, re: Justin Braun.

Union get Nizar Khalfan, drop Gonzalez & Holder

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The Philadelphia Union picked up midfielder Nizar Khalfan in the MLS Waiver Draft after Vancouver Whitecaps FC waived him earlier today.

The Union have waived goalkeeper Thorne Holder and defender Juan Diego Gonzalez.

A native of Tanzania, Khalfan played in 22 Major League Soccer regular season matches with Vancouver, scoring one goal and four assists.

Mapp to Montreal

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Justin Mapp was selected by Montreal in the round of the 2012 Expansion Draft.

Since joining the Union after being acquired in a trade with Chicago Fire on July 26, 2010 in exchange for allocation money, Mapp has played in 46 games with 35 starts, scoring four goals with eight assists.

  1. Brian Ching
  2. Zarek Valentin
  3. Justin Mapp
  4. Bobby Burling
  5. 5
  6. Colin Warner
  7. Josh Gardner

The next big day on the MLS calendar is Dec.

Raves: Keon Daniel

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(Photo: Nicolae Stoian)

Editor's note: At the end of the 2010 season, we posted a series of raves "Raves" about our favorite Philadelphia players. They need not be the team's best players, but they're guys and gals we like. Over the next two weeks, we continue the series again with some of the PSP writers and contributors favorite players of 2011.

Interested in Adu, new kit reaction, WPS troubles, Blatter says row over, more news

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Photo: Paul Rudderow

Union

Y0u can watch a live stream of today's Expansion Draft the French Canadian way from 3pm on the Montreal Impact website. (It's supposed to be on the MLS site too but, as of this writing, they haven't put the link up yet.)

Montreal Impact head coach Jesse Marsch is among those who noticed Freddy Adu was left unprotected by the Philadelphia Union ahead of today's Expansion Draft.

Union unveil new jerseys for 2012

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Philadelphia Union unveiled their new jerseys for 2012 today.

The two new jerseys, designated as primary and secondary, incorporate the logo of jersey sponsor Bimbo, which signed a deal with the Union last year, albeit too late for brand new jerseys to be designed.

Both jerseys are blue and gold, with blue as the primary color, though in different shades.

5 thoughts on the expansion draft

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Ever read those posts on SI.com, Fox Soccer, or ESPN.com with the "five thoughts about ..." and then, well, lo and behold, they offer you five random thoughts about a topic?

Yeah, I always thought they were mailing it in too, too rushed or whatever to come up with a lede, coherent structure for the column, etc.

Union interest in Anelka, Harkes out, Adu exposed, Blatter talks

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This just in from Kerith Gabriel at the Daily News:

Tweet No. 1: According to French pub L'Equipe, @PhilaUnion is said to be vying for the services of @chelseafc forward Nicolas Anelka.

Tweet No. 2: Source within @PhilaUnion camp just confirmed there IS interest but said it's a stretch given other offers Anelka has received.

Analysis: Union Protected List

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Photo: Earl Gardner

Not to sound too surprised, but when the Union released their Protected List for Wednesday's Expansion Draft, I joined in the shouts of delight that reverberated around the greater Philadelphia area. The Union got this list exactly right. All of the veterans who helped lead this team are safe.

Raves: Danny Califf

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(Photo: Nicolae Stoian)

Editor's note: Last year, we posted a series of "Raves" about some of our favorite Philadelphia players. They need not be the team's best players, but they're guys and gals we like. Over the next two weeks, we continue the series again with some of the PSP contributors favorite players of 2011.

Union protected list released

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The Philadelphia Union released on Monday its protected list for Wednesday's Expansion Draft.

Philadelphia Union's Protected Players:

1.        Califf, Danny (DF)
2.        Carroll, Brian (MF)
3.        Farfan, Gabriel (DF)
4.        Farfan, Michael (MF)
5.

RIP, Shane Kelly

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Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Shane Kelly seemed to know everyone.

He had contacts everywhere in the Philadelphia soccer scene. He knew the people who ran those fields in the northeast and the southwest. Shane had a foot in so many sports teams and leagues in Philadelphia that I sometimes wondered how he had enough feet left to play soccer in the Casa Soccer League, where he was commissioner of the league's top division.

A great moment for MLS

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For the first time in too long, the best team in Major League Soccer won the MLS Cup.

That's great for MLS.

Sure, nobody likes to root for Goliath to beat down David, but there were lots of reasons to hope and be happy Los Angeles won last night. Now that they've set Houston aside with a 1-0 victory (which would've been 2-0 if Robbie Keane had not been wrongly called offside on his goal), you don't have to think about some team that played as ugly as Colorado getting hot for a few weeks and then parading around for a year as your league champs.

Raves: Brian Carroll

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(Photo: Paul Rudderow)

Editor's note: At the end of the 2010 season, we posted a series of raves "Raves" about some of our favorite Philadelphia players. They need not be the team's best players, but they're guys and gals we like. Over the next two weeks, we continue the series again with some of the PSP contributors favorite players of 2011.

LA wins Cup, MLS announces Schedule changes, Williams on U-23′s, more

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Photo: Courtesy MLS Soccer

MLS

LA Galaxy defeated Houston Dynamo 1–0 to win the MLS Cup. Landon Donovan scored the lone goal and was named MVP. Player ratings are here.

All teams must submit their protected list to the league for Tuesday's Expansion Draft by 5pm today.

The league made two big announcements on Sunday, one concerning the shift to a conference-based schedule, the about changes to the playoff format aimed a rewarding those teams with better regular season records.

Hall guesses on pks, MLS Cup drinking, USWNT tie Sweden

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SBI quotes Dynamo keeper Tally Hall on penalty kicks:Â "I've done enough homework to know that pretty much every player on their team taking a penalty can score either way," said Hall. "It doesn't really help me. Listen, most players here are good enough to go two ways consistently and score, so it's sometimes a premonition, sometimes it's just straight up reading.

Interview: Montreal Impact head coach Jesse Marsch

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(Photo: Courtesy of Montreal Impact)

Philly Soccer Page writer Adam Cann recently spoke with Montreal Impact coach Jesse Marsh. In their conversation, Marsch talked about the many variables to consider when deciding who to select in the Expansion Draft, as well as the club's vision for the future and his role as a coach.

USMNT: Winners & Losers

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Securing victory over Slovenia was nice. And scoring three goals was even better, but until World Cup Qualification begins, the results still do not matter. Rather, it is the performance of individuals and how they help to shape the team's formation and tactics that are most important to evaluate as the pieces come together for Jurgen Klinsmann's US National Team.

MLS Cup Final Drinking Game/Match Preview/Drinking Game AGAIN!

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Do you work on Monday? Me too.

Feel like joining me in offering a salute to the bigwigs at Major League Soccer for playing their most important game of the season at 9pm Eastern Standard Time (on ESPN) on a freaking SUNDAY? A time at which 90 percent of the owners of tiny Beckham jerseys up and down the Eastern seaboard will be unable to watch because it's a school night?

U of DE wins in huge NCAA upset, De Ro MVP, more Blatter blather, more news

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Photo: Courtesy Matt Riley/University of Delaware

Local

University of Delaware upset No. 20 ranked University of Virginia with a 1–0 double overtime win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night. Sophomore John Dineen headed the winner with 4:14 remaining the the second overtime period.

Philly fans in photos

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Philly fans are the best in the world. The Philadelphia Union knows, the Philadelphia Independence knows it, the whole country knows it. Here's a look back at Philly fans supporting the Union, the Independence and the USMNT in 2011, courtesy of Philly Soccer page photographers Daniel Gajdamowicz, Earl Gardner, Michael Long, Paul Rudderow and Nicolae Stoian, as well as contributing photographers Garrett Field and Nate Monahan.

PSP’s Man of the Year

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(Photo: Earl Gardner)

On Wednesday, we took a look at who should be protected in the 2011 Expansion Draft by the Philadelphia Union based on the player ratings we do after each game. We now look at who earned Man of the Match—the highest rated player in each game— honors in 2011.

Philly fans in photos

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Philly fans are the best in the world. The Philadelphia Union knows, the Philadelphia Independence knows it, the whole country knows it. Here's a look back at Philly fans supporting the Union, the Independence and the USMNT in 2011, courtesy of Philly Soccer page photographers Daniel Gajdamowicz, Earl Gardner, Michael Long, Paul Rudderow and Nicolae Stoian, as well as contributing photographers Garrett Field and Nate Monahan.

KYW Philly Soccer Show: Expansion Draft, MLS Cup & USMNT

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In the latest installment of the Philly Soccer Show Podcast, KYW's Greg Orlandini is joined by Philly Soccer Page writers Adam Cann and Eli Pearlman-Storch to discuss the Expansion Draft, the MLS Cup and the recent USMNT friendlies against France and Slovenia.

In part one, the topic is the Expansion Draft.

Nowak defends lineup selections, Goal/SaveOTY, Blatter does it again, more

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Union

Ahead of last week's end of the season press conference, we posted a piece that looked at all of the different midfield lineups the Union fielded in 2011 (there were 26 of them). MLSsoccer.com published a piece yesterday with quotes from Nowak defending his use of so many different lineups and formations.

Union Loyalty Points pickup match 11-14-11

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One of the benefits of being a Philadelphia Union season ticket holder, aside from the nifty card I proudly carry in my wallet and access pre-sales and to special events as well as discounts on everything from the price of tickets, parking and team merchandise, is the Loyalty Point Program. What's that, you ask?

Pre-expansion draft player ratings

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Photo: Paul Rudderow

After every Union match, The Philly Soccer Page publishes its exclusive player ratings. Moments later, our wonderful readers follow up with expansive debate.

With the expansion draft looming, let's see if the PSP's ratings can predict who the Union will and should protect.

“Bitter taste,” Uprights at PPL, local HS state semi results, more news

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Photo: Paul Rudderow

Union

Justin Mapp reflects on the 2011 season,

"I think I've been on some pretty good teams. This Union team was maybe as rewarding as any season because of how much we improved and got better in a short amount of time. We made the playoffs and that was a huge step for the franchise.

PSP turns 2 years old

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So yeah, it's our birthday.

Two years ago today, PSP went live. Somehow, we're still here.

So for once, PSP is going to write about PSP in a bit of a stream of consciousness.

Ch-ch-ch-changes (as in, we had a few)

A lot has changed over two years. Philadelphia actually has a team now, for one.

Expansion draft preview: The Montreal edition

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Another MLS Cup, another expansion draft.

For most clubs around the league, that's what the year's final match really means. The day after Sunday's championship game, MLS teams must submit to the league office the list of eleven players they plan to protect in the Nov. 23 expansion draft.

The draft's rules are largely the same as last year, tweaked a bit to account for the Montreal Impact drafting alone, whereas last year's draft had two expansion teams.

Seba talks endurance, U-18s win, Arena is coach of the year

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A video of Seba Le Toux talking about endurance (careful, it auto-plays!). This is perfect. Nobody on Earth can possibly be more qualified to discuss this topic. Oh wait, he just says he works hard? What!? This is like getting superman to talk about his powers and walking away with a quote like, "I just do it, y'know?

The defense by shots on target

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Photo: Paul Rudderow
As noted in a recent post on the Philadelphia Union website, "Over the course of 34 games, opposing teams averaged a mere 3.05 shots on goal this season, an all-time league record."

Over the course of the 2011 season, the Union held opponents to zero shots on goal twice, one shot on goal 5 times, two shots on goal six times and three shots on goal 11 times.

Not satisfield. League plans. Marry a European. More news.

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Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Union

Danny Califf and Sebastien Le Toux both agree that the hope among the players is that there will not be as much player movement in the closed season. Le Toux said, "I hope with the good result we got this year, we'll get most of the guys back and move on and continue.

US WC qualie group, new MLS playoffs, owls never forget

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The US will be joined in their third round CONCACAF qualifying group by Guatemala, Jamaica and Antigua & Barbuda. Oh thank goodness. I was worried I'd never see Carlos Ruiz again! The round-robin system means the US plays home-and-homes with each team between June 1 and October 16 2012.Â

The MLS Board of Governors are ready to address playoff shortcomings again.

US-France, Euro ’12 roundups

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Philadelphia Union

Sebastien Le Toux hopes there won't be the same roster turnover there was last year, because it was difficult to adjust to.

U.S. France

Recaps from yesterday's U.S.-France match:

  • Associated Press
  • The New York Times
  • Goal.com
  • MLSsoccer.

The Union’s 2011 home season in pictures

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Featured Image: Nicolae Stoian

The Philly Soccer Page is fortunate to be able to share its readers the work of five staff photographers: Daniel Gajdamowicz, Earl Gardner, Michael Long, Paul Rudderow and Nicolae Stoian. Along with photographs by contributing photographers Nate Monahan and Eryin Wandel, we present a look back at the Union's 2011 home season along with the road games we were able to cover, special events and more.

New kit unveiling contest, 2012 MLS schedule news, more

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Union

The Union has become well-known for its innovative use of social networking tools. The latest bit of cleverness is this: when their Facebook page gets 92,012 likes, they will unveil the new designs for the first and second kit. You can 'like' the Union by clicking here. As of this writing, there are only 6,500 'likes' to go.

Quotes from Union presser, more news

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Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Union

Wednesday's press conference contained much talk about the future of the club. Here are some talking points, beginning with Peter Nowak on:

Consistent lineups: "It's not that we are saying everything is fine. All we are saying is that having a starting lineup consistent, 11 guys, maybe two substitutions or three guys, you cannot win the championship with 13 guys.

Match preview: USA at France

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What happened to kicking the tires?

With the announcement of another conservative, heavily German-born roster for the upcoming friendlies against France (Friday, Nov. 11, 3pm on ESPN2) and Slovenia (Tuesday, Nov. 15, 12pm on ESPN2), apprehension has begun to creep to the front of many US fans' minds.

Looking at the Union’s starting midfield lineups

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Photo: Nicolae Stoian

After the Philadelphia Union gave away the lead to draw with Houston at PPL Park on August 6, we posted an article that, among other topics, looking at the consistency question. The question wasn't so much consistency on the field—little did we know that the Union were in the beginnings of an eight game winless streak.

Le Toux wins. Williams “unattached”? More news.

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Union

Sebastien Le Toux has won the Fair Play Award for the second year in a row. Bien fait!

Le Toux said of the award, "It may not be the most prestigious prize that people are asking about, but I'm very happy to get [this award] this year. It means I am always respectful on the field so I'm glad that the league and the referees know that.

Statistical analysis of Union at Houston

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By the end of the first half of the first game of the playoff series against Houston it was clear that the Philadelphia Union's defense was not adequately familiar with the new formation deployed by Peter Nowak against the Houston Dynamo at PPL Park. In the second half, the Union reverted to the tried and tested four man backline that had been so instrumental in seeing the Union advance to the playoffs in the first place.

Union awards, USMNT in Italy, offseason dates, more

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Greg Seltzer claims the USMNT will be in Genoa February 29th for a friendly against Italy.

The Union are up for 4 postseason awards: 1) Faryd Mondragon for Goalkeeper of the Year, 2) Michael Farfan for Rookie of the Year, 3) Sebastien Le Toux for individual Fair Play, and 4) the Philadelphia Union for team Fair Play.

Player ratings & analysis: Dynamo 1-0 Union (3-1 agg.)

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Photo: Nicolae Stoian

Soccer's tactical development over the past two decades unfurls, ironically, as a seemingly endless battle for the part of the field furthest from the goals. When Inter Milan wanted championships, they imported Jose Mourinho to teach the team how to play defense further up the pitch.

Califf on the loss, Houston & LA reach final, more news

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Union

Danny Califf said of the Union's long-ball tactics against Houston, "It played right into their hands. They have a couple of big center backs, and all of them, aside from Corey Ashe, are big, and along with their midfielders they eat that up."

CSN Philly completely sidesteps the issue of Peter Nowak's selection and tactical decisions by saying that, in losing to Houston, the Union were beaten by a better team.

A look in the mirror

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Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union did not play better than Houston in either of their two games.

The Union trotted out yet another poor lineup, with the team's leading scorer deployed at midfield where he never scores instead of forward where he always scores and a zone defense that confused its own players more than it contained Houston's.

Tweets, That call, Quotes, Looking forward, more morning news

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Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

It didn't end the way we wanted, but, oh, what a season. As Adam Cann wrote in our match report for Thurday night's loss in Houston, "After ten months, the Union ended their season where it began. In their wake they leave every reasonable expectation, and in the city they represent they will find nothing but love.

Match report: Dynamo 1-0 Union (3-1 agg)

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For ten minutes it was there. The passion, the drive and the aggression that have inspired the team to so many tough wins was nearly palpable. It may have been palpable, because who knows what else kept knocking Brian Ching over.

And though the Union never, ever gave up, Houston survived the early pressure and then there was no way through for Philadelphia.

KYW Philly Soccer Show: Dominic Kinnear

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Photo: Courtesy of the Houston Dynamo

Houston Dynamo's Dominic Kinnear is the guest on the latest installment of the KYW Philly Soccer Show podcast as KYW's Greg Orlandini and Philly Soccer Page writer Eli Pearlman-Storch sit down with the two-time MLS Cup winning coach to discuss the Philadelphia Union's series with Houston.

“We know we can beat them,” more playoff news

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Union

Faryd Mondragon said, "If we play the way we know how to play, we can beat anyone."

Sebastien Le Toux on Houston: "We know we can beat them."

And, as Marc Narducci reports, Danny Califf knows it can be done. Califf was on the LA Galaxy team that, in the 2003, beat San Jose 2–0 in the first leg, was up 2–0 in the second half, and lost 2–5 in extra time.

Second Leg Preview: Union v Dynamo

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(Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz)

What:Â Philadelphia Union v Houston Dynamo

When:Â 8:30pm EST

Where:Â Robertson Stadium, Houston, TX, USA

Why:Â GAME ON!

TV: ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN-Deportes

Referee: Ricardo Salazar

Messing with Texas

Despite the number of times Texas has rudely suggested we not mess with it, Thursday, November 3, 2011 needs to go down in future Union lore as the day the Union went down to Houston and messed up Houston's game plan, ultimately stealing victory on the road.

Where are the goals coming from?

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Photo: Nicolae Stoian

The playoffs are now in full swing and, with the loss to Houston on Sunday, the Philadelphia Union are in need of goals if they are to advance to the Eastern Conference Final. Where have the Union's goals came from this season? The question arose after I noticed how often the Dynamo scored from crosses this year (as we now well know after Sunday).

Of tactics good and bad

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What separates a good coach from a great coach?

A coach can be considered good if he does one of two things. One: He looks at his squad and says, "Right then, these are my players. I will build a system to suit them." Then he creates a system, plugs in players, and off they go on a fine run of form.

Playoff previews: The 3 other games

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Photo: Paul Rudderow

You might have noticed, but there are three other playoff series going on besides Philadelphia Union's face-off with Houston. Normally, we might not watch them, but each series has high entertainment value, for different reasons in each case.

Here's a quick preview of the three.

Houston scribe talks smack, Pauno maybe ready, The Dragon inspires, more news

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Photo: Nicolae Stoian

Injury report

PHILADELPHIA UNION OUT: GK Thorne Holder (concussion); FW Levi Houapeu (L ankle strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Michael Farfan (R foot contusion); FW Veljko Paunovic (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: MF Justin Mapp (L quad strain)

HOUSTON DYNAMO OUT: FW Cam Weaver (R hip)

The Union are hopeful Paunovic will be ready to go on Thursday.

That new formation in stats

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Photo: Nicolae Stoian

When asked on MLSsoccer.com's Extratime podcast what he thought when Peter Nowak introduced the five man backline to the team, Danny Califf said, "To be honest, you know, I was a bit surprised. Most of the time, come playoff time, it's not the time to be experimenting and trying out new things and new personnel and things like that.

Union v Houston: A view from the River End

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The River End belts out the National Anthem.

Zombie-mode in full effect as Corey Furlan gets the beat going.

The header from a Brad Davis free kick begins to make its way into goal...

...and moments later Faryd Mondragon celebrates Seba's beautiful goal.

The things we know: An open letter to Union players

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Photo: Nicolae Stoian

Click here to view the embedded video.

We know, guys. Trust me. We know.

We know you played your hearts out Sunday.

We know you left everything on the field in those ridiculously exciting, maddening, painful closing minutes.

We know you had to overcome your manager's bad decisions.