15 January 2014

We Still Exist?

We do? TBD.

05 August 2010

The Union Made Lenhart Famous

Okay. So I've been a terribly absentee blogger. But I have been working. There is more coming. At present, the home base is empty, my tickets for the evening have been spoken for, so I am gonna get kinda tipsy. I am gettin' stuck in. Your hero has returned. I will delay no further.

Here we go with the...


CREW: Hesmer, Francis, Iro, Marshall, Hejduk, Ekpo, Carroll, O'Rourke, Renteria, Schelotto, Garey

UNION: Seitz, Arrieta, Califf, Orozco Fiscal, Mapp, Coudet, Miglioranzi, Fred, Moreno, Le Toux


1' Early dive from Fred off the light contact of Hejduk. US Soccer Jesus is a rough lookin' 36.

2' And a two footer from Fred. He's ready for the “national” spotlight. I recently read an article at http://www.epltalk.com which unfavorably compared the viewing statistics of the MLS with those of the WNBA. I have enough pride to believe that this is untrue, facts and figures be damned.

Sons of Ben sound loud as sheeyit.

Columbus sitting way back.

4' Le Toux gets away with a knee to Hejduk's bread basket behind the referee's vision. That's the typical sneakiness I expect from the French.

5' Moreno's cross is too long but tracked down after Francis' fumble.

6' Coudet's cross leads to some real dark arts as Moreno and Fred are both fouled, but Marshall remains on the ground and gets a whistle. The official seems as clueless as myself at the moment.

7' Gorgeous shot of the sun rays filtered through the industrial smog over the river. The Delaware River and the bridge framing the stadium are nice, but I would really love to see that camera elevate about one hundred feet and rotate ninety degrees to the left.

10' Mapp's through ball for Le Toux is just a smidge too late and our favorite Frenchman is whistled for offside.

11' Califf goes across the field for Harvey with a lovely switch. Nothing comes of it, of course, but Califf is in the building tonight. He will later disappear when we need him most, so this is worth noting.


12' Carroll gets a nip at Fred's heel and a mere warning for his trouble.

14' Union with some slick buildup play down the right hand side, but fizzles out with Le Toux. On the change of possession, Miglioranzi intercepts 40 yards from goal and forces Hesmer into a sloppy corner.

15' On the second try, a foul is called on a shaken up Califf who appears to have broken his fall with his rib cage.

Le Toux has been ineffective thus far. Hmmmm.

18' Fred's insouciance leads to a needless turnover. Columbus control the next thirty-plus seconds before Fred body checks Hejduk over the touchline.

19' Coudet with a tidy tackle to send the Union the right way.

20' Mapp creates a few yards of space, but his cross is easily scooped up by Hesmer.

20' Union doing very well to get numbers on the ball in the defensive end. They get a chance to counter, leading to some quick interplay from Moreno and Le Toux, which almost opens up for Alejandro's first goal before Marshall's perfect challenge clears.

21' Mapp has a rip from thirty yards that is about two yards over the net.

The 20:10 signage display actually looks okay. Clearly my screaming at everybody over three midfield sections rang through last week.

23' Tight  control from Le Toux at the top of the box sets up Fred for another blocked shot attempt. Harvey turns it over to Renteria, who shucks off a posse of Union players before smartly keeping it on his side.

25' Sweet aerial, diagonal ball from Moreno for Harvey who can't overcome the defense.

27' A foul off the ball leads to a Union free kick in a dangerous position.

SUBSITUTION (And a slightly bizarre one) Garey OFF, Lenhart ON...Lenhart had to plead with Garey to get him off the field.

28' Union execute a lot of rehearsed business, including Fred trying to move the wall himself, but Le Toux's driven effort is denied by a Columbus head.

Coudet, Fred, and Moreno all turning on the skillz tonight.

30' Mapp backheels to Le Toux, but his ensuing cross is too strong.

I don't know what a Chelada is but I want one.

31' Fred covers thirty yards on his own before he is abruptly relieved of the ball and slammed on his face in the process.

32' Seitz makes an excellent save from a HEAVY Columbus shot off the foot of Renteria.

I just saw the one girl in the Columbus traveling contingent. Poor show, lads. (I would later see a few more. They were equally unimpressive in different ways.)

33' Off the corner, Ekpo unleashes an aimless shot and the River Ends erupts in laughter.

34' Mapp feeling very confident, again unleashes from distance after several touches on his own. Hesmer dives to save it, and is able to wrap it up with both arms.

35' Califf chops through the back of Lenhart, and acts shocked at the whistle. Clever.

36' Seitz' heads-up long ball from the free kick sets up the Union for more controlled attacking possession.

38' Califf does a great job to defend the cross in the box, using positioning and leverage to force the goal kick. (This trend WILL NOT continue).

YELLOW CARD for Columbus' Carroll for a bad tackle from behind on Mapp.

39' Le Toux strikes from a forty yard dead ball and only misses by a few yards. More rotation and the Union is in business.

Miglioranzi is down, Columbus kick the ball out.

SUBSTUTION: Miglioranzi OFF, Nakazawa IN

That's an even exchange. Miglioranzi has been playing a fairly anonymous game.

YELLOW CARD for Fred. Silly play by the veteran.

43' And the Union are made to pay for Fred's mistake. What a horrendous turn of events. Complete disaster. Lenhart nods home Schelotto's delicious delivery, leaving a fairly useless-defensively Jordan Harvey in the dust.

Seitz' clean sheet is once again tarnished, as has always been and shall likely remain the case for the Union's short history.

46' Mapp is shoved off the ball, and the Union get a chance to level the score at the end of the first half. Nakazawa's intelligent delivery leads to a YELLOW CARD for dumbass Frankie Hejduk and a penalty awarded to and to be taken by the Union's talisman, Sebastien Le Toux. Sight unseen, I can assure you that SeaBass will deliver, as has been his wont.

47' Of course I am right.

47' OF COURSE I AM RIGHT. Le Toux poses for the River End in style with Orozco Fiscal by his side. And here comes the DOOP. Sheer elation from the Sons of Ben. The penalty may not have been entirely just, but the scoreline is.


That is my favorite time of the first half to score, and the Union have only ever given up goals towards the end of the opening session. It feels damn good to do so, I must say. Union get even more liveliness and Columbus get something to bitch about for the next fifteen minutes.


Garey apparently out with a stomach illness. What a pussy.

46' Fred is welcomed to the second half with some severe whiplash after colliding with a few Columbus defenders. He rubs his neck as Coudet and Nakazawa consult over the long free kick, which is eventually blocked away.

49' Renteria uses Harvey's draft as an excuse to tumble forward like a gymnast. Give me a break. Fattest MLS player I have seen yet, and I have been watching Alejandro Moreno all season.

50' Schelotto's beautiful long ball finds Renteria, whose cross is once again nodded home by Lenhart, who runs across Califf's body and heads home past Seitz for another crappy GOAL. 2-1, Columbus.

53' Lenhart is whistled for offside while burying his bid for a hat trick into Seitz' waiting sternum.

54' Moreno's pull back is off the mark, but the ball bounces to Nakazawa who takes a touch before firing wide.

Columbus look quite prepared to milk this lead for the last 35-40 minutes. So that's disappointing.

57' A whole lot of business before a lousy Columbus corner routine, culminating with a Frankie Hejduk shot so ugly only LeBron's mother could love him.

59' Le Toux goes to ground early in the box again, but he does not get the benefit of the doubt.

60' Nakazawa steps up to deliver another Union free kick. I accept his free kick authority because his name is Japanese, a culture which I associate with technical precision. That is not racist.

62' Moreno feels a bit of pressure so he helps himself to the grass, earning a free kick but losing a bit of pride.

62' Arrieta cleans Renteria's clock with a comprehensive challenge. The kind I most like to see. Take all of the ball then all of the ankles.

Schelotto has an earful for the flag bearer/linesman. He should be more respectful of that person I refuse to name.

64' Mapp creates, and creates, and creates yet again, before his cross is headed into the perforated ozone above PPL Park and out for a goal kick.


65' Renteria kicks out at Fred's heels, tweaks his groin and lower back, and yet, somehow, Columbus free kick.

66' Shout-out from JP for the Sons of Ben and even more for the traveling Crew support. Good for them. I only hate New York and D.C. fans, because they don't have to travel so far. If you spent a significant amount of time or money to come to PPL Park, then I am glad to have you. I will curse at you, and sing songs to denigrate you, but I will defend any traveling support from physical danger *DC AND NJRB EXCLUDED, DUH.

68' I saw Califf get away with a kick to the back of the thigh. Good stuff.

69' Marshall just big boy'd Le Toux, failing to post Marshall up, and taking the ball before the man.

73' Le Toux finally nudges the ball into the final third, but loses it at the end line. Moreno can't get on the end of long ball, and Iro goes to ground under no pressure. (This game sucks).

SUBSTITUTION: Renteria OFF, Oughton ON


75' Mapp does well to get a corner off the crisp pass from Moreno. A phantom call leads to a second Union corner kick, but it's worse than the first and Columbus regain possession.

Andrew Jacobson appears ready to join the party. I think it will be for Miglioranzi.



Good change, Fred has all but disappeared in the second half.

78' Le Toux's weak free kick effort fails to clear Schelotto's head, and he is very short. This is the shame.

79' Coudet's Tackle of the Match candidate earns him back the ball and puts the Union back on the front foot. Subsequently, a foul called by the linesman as Le Toux catches a face-full of Francis' forearm.

A glance to the bench sees Mwanga still in his track top and Miglioranzi fresh from the showers in a Union sport jacket.

80' The quality of Nakazawa's dangerous effort from a wide dead ball is unmatched by any of his teammates' efforts to get on the end of it.

82' Le Toux attempts a cheeky drag to himself, which is promptly gobbled up by an eager Hesmer.


Did Nowak give the birthday boy enough time to get himself a proper gift? I am thinking not. But I am raised on the local despair of Philadelphia sports, and not the global optimism of soccer.

84' A big sloppy mess here between Jacobson, Le Toux, and McInerney incredibly does not end with a big DOOP. What a clusterwhut.

86' When Moreno is tracking down defenders, can I call him a “Chubby Chaser?” I mean, that's a lot of Venezuelan beef.

87' Le Toux cuts it inside for Moreno, who does not have the range to reach the ball. The free range.

IT HAS SLIPPED AWAY. I watched enough Liverpool matches last season to recognize days or nights when my club simply does not have it.

88' Remember earlier, when Seitz brilliantly distributed and opened up our attack? He just booted it out of bounds, to the center line. Yikes. Again, we are undone by silly mental lapses.

91' Moreno earns a free kick between the box and the touchline. Nakazawa's delivery is cleared as far as Harvey, who fires for glory and finds himself with nothing.

94' If not for Fred's lazy foul, this could be a tie game. But here we are, twenty seconds from the end of stoppage time...and...


Columbus 2, Union 1

There is naught left to say at the moment. Our Achilles heel, stupidity, is visible to any team with the patience and quality to exploit it. Until these moments of selfish stupidity are a thing of the past, we can all go ahead and spend the money saved for playoff tickets.

15 May 2010

17 Syllables Is All They Get

FC Dallas?  OK-
What was wrong with Burn?  Oh yeah:
Present tense verb or rash!

Give it a shot in the comments...

05 May 2010

Still Not From New York

Somewhere between the despair of three straight defeats, along with the midweek return fixture, time has been difficult to come by.  But fear not, my numerable loyal readers, An Un-Civil Union will get back on schedule and rise again!  SO without further ado:

For me, these early Union losses have existed on separate temporal and emotional planes. The grim realities of our struggling team and their dropped points aren't as apparent when live and in person with fellow supporters, whether via pub screens or brand new aluminum bleachers piled on top of New Jersey swampland.

(And don't let any PR spinster fool you. The sparkling new Red Bull Arena shines in just a shockingly grimy location. I swore their parking garage was rigged to blow for a new Michael Bay movie.)

In person, I end up screaming and singing for about the first 75 minutes, expelling too much carbon dioxide until I feel a bit lightheaded. Then I get so nervous I can barely watch. I have no answer for people who think soccer is boring anymore. I feel the tension of a 0-0 game from the first kick. The traveling experiences have been great, so I can't imagine how much better it could get with even a point.

It's a shame our boys are wasting good road efforts, because they could have taken something from their arduous, travel heavy opening third of the season.

The following recap is based on their hometown(?) feed by the MSG Network.

Nowak down on the field for the first time since the Polish tragedy. He was obviously hit very hard personally. Glad to see him back pitch-side.


Good Guys (4-2-3-1): Seitz, Harvey, Orozco, Salinas, Arrieta, Torres, Miglioranzi, Jacobson, Fred, Le Toux, Moreno

Jerks (4-4-2): Coundoul, Miller, Ream, Petke, Hall, Nielsen, Lindpere, Robinson, Richards, Angel, Ibrahim

Tina Cervasio, sideline reporter, looks like one busted House Wife of New Jersey. Those are exceptionally large hoop earrings for a soccer telecast. You can't get that tan in Newark naturally.

On Angel: “You need to feed the beast...” But the beast has nothing to drink...because they have no cups...

Highlighting the Union's poor defensive record in their infancy: 6 goals shipped in 3 games. Califf out on a red card. 0-2-0 on the road. (But 1-0-0 at home!)  At least we're unlikely to see any tedious 0-0 results this season.

Le Toux tripled his goal output a single game, versus one in his previous 29 MLS matches.


1'  “Look at the Red Bulls cheering section. The Sons of Sam...err Sons of Ben here as well.” He mentioned the SoB's because he wasn't used to singing or cheering at Red Bull Arena.

1'  Terrible giveaway by Harvey provides the all-too-familiar warning signs.

2'  The fans at midfield in Red Bull Arena all came dressed as the logo painted on the seats!

4'  New Jersey's first corner allows the Union to break out. Torres outlets to Moreno, who carries from midfield before finding Le Toux for the first threat of the match. Le Toux gently rolls the ball along the ground for the gracious Coundoul. He really should have done so much better with that. First chance blown.

5'  Union doing a good job in the attacking half working their possession, but Torres' fancy feet get snuffed out inside the box. This theme recurs in the first half before he is subbed off.

7'  Salou finds plenty of time and space for himself at the top of the Union eighteen yard box. His curler to the far post is too ambitious for his skill level, but I doubt Seitz was ever getting their either. A stalemate of inability.

9'  “One of the things they'd like to do his finish the whole match with eleven men.” Indeed. Other acceptable outcomes include having more goals than the other team. But no ejections is good too.

10'  Torres connects with Moreno again, who connects with Le Toux, again, who fluffs his lines, again. This time, his dummy lives up to its name and the chance evaporates. Sebastien is missing either the skill or confidence he showed in D.C. United game.

12'  Salinas releases Le Toux down the left flank, who finds Moreno at the top of the box. Le Toux gets it back and misses wide by at least five yards. This game should have been put away before the fifteen minute mark.

13'  Fred's aggression gives the Red Bulls a free kick from the touchline. The ball falls right to Seitz from an unidentifiable head, and it's all easy in the end. The Sons of Ben get behind every positive touch of the ball from the keeper with a rudimentary chant based on a classic tradition from The Man Show.

14'  Another corner for New Jersey. Lindpere's delivery is swallowed by Setiz' meaty paws.

15'  Idle NJ announce chatter about Seitz. Kindly references a couple of “horrendous blunders,” the mildest of descriptions the disasters Seitz has created or inspired.

16'  Harvey gets away with a reckless sliding challenge. Even if it was clean, I don't trust Harvey making those kinds of decisions. Nervy on the right side of defense.

17'  Jacobson, Miglioranzi, Torres, and Salinas each have blame in passing that ball out of bounds. I am offering free English lessons to get the Union on the same linguistic page.

18'  Nielsen with a powerful drive along the ground from 20+ yards, easily stifled by Seitz. Err...SURPRISINGLY EASILY stifled by Seitz.

20'  Union playing their special brand of competent, but aimless possession, over a minute of “buildup” leading to a long ball straight to Coundoul.

21'  Torres has a pop from 30+ yards that sails a few feet over the crossbar, and the head of an unconcerned Coundoul.

24'  Le Toux again dummies to no one.

I was at the game singing and screaming. I can't say I remember our possession being this toothless.

25'  Torres floats nothing more than idea into the box for Le Toux, who is officially no longer in the world beating form he showed in his hometown Philadelphia debut, to be certain.

28'  Wow! A cannon blast from Lindpere is saved only by a teammate's head at extremely close range. Salou takes a facial of the most painful and useless variety. I'm just saying, if those two previously had any beefs, that was a full on declaration of war. With teammates like that, who needs teammates, right?
It's still good the fifteenth time, too.

29'  Miglioranzi tries a FIFA 10 360 spin and accordingly gifts back possession.

Flashback to Califf's red card. He admits he would have given the card himself. Unlikely.

32'  Good work by Harvey holding down that flank. Better play from Orozco as well, who does well to push forward after an interception. His give and go with Fred leads to another wasted cross by Torres.

35'  New Jersey corner. Angel's pass expectedly weak and cleared. Cries for a penalty on Harvey and it'd be hard to argue. Harvey closed him down like Dawkins before driving Salou's hips to the turf.

37'  New Jersey get a free kick in a dangerous position for a foul on Salou. “You Suck Seitz” chants from the supporters there. Actually, your free kick taking sucks. Nielsen's first strike is blocked by the wall, before the next try is blown for offides.

40'  If anything happens, I'll mention it, I swear.

41'  Miller's Cross(ing) is poor.

Oh boy Seitz's lapse against De Rosario's free kick revisited. That was horrible.


41'  At this moment, Seitz basically erases that memory with a gem out of the top drawer. He throws his humungous frame at the turf just in time to stop Angel's goal. Lindpere found room for Angel to run into, and Angel should have opened the scoring.

Re-reading these notes, that praise was pretty exaggerated. It was a genuinely competent save.

44'  Moreno marauds as quickly as he can, and he and Le Toux FAIL TO CONNECT AGAIN.
New York counter, and Salou tries to cross the face of goal to Angel. Not a good pass.

NO STOPPAGE TIME? ABWUH! Never seen that before. But the time would have favored NJRB, so it was a sound decision.


“My thoughts are good if you're a Philly fan! I'm Not!” The NJRB announcers aren't too bad.

SUBSTITUTION:  Zimmerman on, Torres off.


46'  Zimmerman makes an impact in his first minute. His cross is too high for Le Toux, who fails to adjust his feet and unbalances himself.

48'  The Union back line typically struggles in playing the ball amongst each other. This holds true. Not the consistency I would hope for.

49'  I'm not too pleased by Nowak's orders for Fred. Every time I want him to push the play, he holds it up. He's doing a good job of making sure the back four don't keep the ball, but he's not driving the offense fast enough.

50'  Zimmerman's shot is wide, but that was a very poor giveaway from Ream and should have been punished.

50'  CRAPOLA. Salou's head finds the end of Hall's beautifully lofted cross, and the ball goes past a charging Seitz on his way to clobbering Jordan Harvey. Salou ran a good 25 yards after giving it up to Hall, and was unmarked the whole way. The player who wanted the ball the most scored. Seitz is hardly to blame for that one.

54'  Harvey takes a kick in the chest and somehow gets called for a foul.

56'  Some nice play from the Union, including a classy ball from Fred for Moreno, but the Red Bulls keep their shape, eventually absorbing a weak effort on goal from Zimmerman.

58'  Even when the Union get their possession to penetrate the penalty box, they find a way to not shoot.

59'  Possession is won back by Le Toux, who neatly leaves the ball for Fred. He spots Moreno's run down the right flank, while Le Toux begins his charge to the back post as soon as he crosses midfield. From the away support's vantage point, high in the opposite end, I smelled what's on and just started screaming “Le Toux! Le Toux!” over and over, until he eventually receives a sweetly swept ball across the goalmouth and taps in for the equalizing GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!

Spotting that goal before it happened is another first for having a team to support in person. My memory for that moment of the day is just pure MDMA, running up and down the row, hugs and high fives for new friendships and Le Toux's now to-be-expected brilliance.

60'  SUBSTITUTION: Mwanga on, Jacobson off.

62'  Union, again, work possession up to the edge of the box. Fred's look for Harvey is too strong.

64'  Mwanga's shot is blocked and turned over after a long buildup sequence. He has failed to impress after being the first pick in the draft.

66'  PENALTY. After a real lull following the Union's goal, a seemingly innocuous cross from Limpere is erroneously handled by Orozco, whose sight may have been disturbed by the tricky shadows over the field. No real questions about the decision. Yet another unlucky break for the Union. Angel converts from the spot, and the Union concede a penalty in back to back games. I have a suspicion that Seitz will end up saving his fair share of penalty shots, though. He guessed correctly again, but this shot and De Rosario's from a week ago were unstoppable.

68'  SUBSTITUIONS: Ubiparipovic and Borman replace Nielsen and Miller.

69'  Good decision by the linesman to call Salou's run offsides. Salou doesn't hear the whistle and continues the breakaway anyway. I remember being personally offended at his insistence at flaunting the official's authority.

70'  YELLOW CARD to Petke for a cynical trip on Orozco. Union take it quickly, and give it away just so. Torres' creativity is sorely missed, but I understand lacking confidence in his composure.

73'  Harvey gets away with a vicious lunge on Salou's heel. Trainers on, slow to get up.

74'  Union finally get a corner. Followed by another. Moreno and Orozco somehow combine to get the ball deflected wide from just a yard or two short of the joy line. The ensuing corner is whistled after some contact, the third time being no charm.

77'  Red Bulls take their turn to waste some nice counterattacking play. Much obliged.

79'  SUBSTITUTION: McInerney in, Harvey out

80'  Poor header from Arrieta back to Seitz truly frightening. Seitz does well enough to get rid of the danger, but these are the mistakes that will cripple confidence and maybe even a season.

83'  Lovely stuff from the Union. Moreno and Fred link up, and perhaps Fred should have shot from inside the box while unmarked(!), but he floats a ball to Jack Mac's dome and he just can't put it away.

84'  HAHAHAHA update from the House Wife on former Red Bull and present USMNT striker Jozy Altidore's red card for Hull City. Altidore's stupidity is somehow comforting considering our own red card woes.

87'  Angel gets too excited by his good fortune, and comically fumbles his shot over the net.

89'  Union allow the Red Bulls to knock the ball around their attacking half, with no real pressure or urgency to win the ball back..

THREE minutes added on. Not going to be enough.

90'  Seitz does a great job of blocking Ubiparovic's shot, because he wasn't getting any help to be sure.

90'  The ball lands at Zimmerman's feet, as the Union get one last gasp at a point, but he runs out of time, and so does the team.

2-1,  DEFEAT.

24 April 2010

A Perfect Day

It is probably too late to get a focused opinion or pertinent observation out of me, but this is me trying. As kickoff approaches, the game is the only thing that matters.

For all the road games I've witnessed firsthand for Philadelphia teams, I've never done so in New York or New Jersey. I am generally in awe of New York City's grandeur, sprawl, and history, but not as interested in bloody noses or any facial bruises.  

Humor, sports and screaming: these are a few of my favorite things.  And combining them all at once?  Add in a rollercoaster and that's it for me.

I like the talk, but would not rather do the walk. My size, temperament and subtle balancing would serve me well in a fight, I am sure, but I am just soft; the adrenaline of the crunch is just too much. Given my propensity for smack-talking, my chatter would likely be short lived if I were to be marooned and surrounded by New Yakkers.

Away support is one of the aspects of world soccer culture that sets it apart, and one of the biggest attractions to the sport for me. Allowing all the traveling fans their own section generally enhances the atmosphere by a significant degree. If they're in your home building, you must keep them seen but unheard. If they're audible, then you're being shown up. And the ante of insults can be upped when its impact will be deflected on thousands instead of individuals.

The pack mentality and competition for ear-space on both sides becomes its own match, co-dependent with the one being played out on the field.  Listening for the back and forth when watching a game on TV is intriguing for a newcomer.

Honestly, I couldn't ask for a better first experience on three fronts: away soccer match for our brand new Union, going into New York for a Philadelphia game, and the fortunate fact that the Red Bulls have failed to acquire hardware in any season of their existence. Talk about a perfect storm!

The fever has captured me, I must prepare the hatred.

21 April 2010

Just Get It Over With

The loss to Toronto, quite painful. I can tell, because rewinding the game for another look feels like actual work, which means this recap has been procrastinated out of any real relevance. A much tougher pill to swallow than the game lost to Seattle; despite being reduced to ten men in the first half again, the Union dominated long stretches of the match, and to any neutral were clearly the stronger team. For all Danny Califf's big words about his team's toughness and aspirations to infamy, he has whipped himself and at least one of his potential partners into a crimson frenzy, while in the process ruling himself out of the massive derby against the Red Bulls immediately following.

Trust me, if this were hockey, I'd be screaming the praises of his antics. Unfortunately for him, it's not! This crazy game has rules which govern personal conduct on the field of play. And no disrespect either, as it's a difficult concept to comprehend for any American. But the most recent dismissal has to smarten these aggressive players up quick, or the skilled players working that much harder in their absence will just be further exposed to injuries over the course of a seven month season.

And off the bus.

Dwayne De Rosario looks like an extra from Bad Boys 2. And not in a good way.

Contrasted with Danny Califf, who actually already looks guilty for his forthcoming red card.

BMO Field is a beautiful facility, can't really hate on that. The skyline backgrounded the corners and wide-shots all night to impressive effect. “That's where the Leafs play!” made me laugh all night.

“Win You Must” and Yoda banners from the raucous Toronto faithful. Quite nerdy, but epic. If only by shear geography, this a worthy international stage. Toronto are under a ton of pressure locally, failing to reach the postseason in their first three seasons.


Toronto FC (4-5-1): Frei, Hscanovics, Cann, Attakora, Usanov, Sanyang, Saric, Labrocca, De Guzman, Gargan, De Rosario

Philadelphia Union (4-4-2): Seitz, Harvey, Orozco, Califf, Arrieta, Torres, Jacobson, Miglioranzi, Fred, Moreno, Le Toux

Nowak still not on the field.


1' Harvey, to Seitz, back to Harvey. If those two ever passed to each other like that in training, I'd send them on laps.

2' De Rosario pressures Seitz into booting it out of play. The rest of the league got the memo on Seitz' erratic tendencies.

3' Le Toux did have an open header from 25 yards. He has to try to more with that. Frei was in no man's land but allowed safe passage back.

3' Califf knows he's past the ball, so he slashes down Labrocca but doesn't draw a foul. Just trying to get Danny's name in before he's sent off.

4' Seitz stumbles on the fresh grass turf while handling a long, long ball. Alarm bells are ringing.

6' Stiff tackle, quickly to ground by Califf on De Rosario. He got low. Wish he would have had another 60 minutes on the field to do that.

10' Corner for Toronto...

10' Leading to a great ball from Fred for Le Toux, who eventually dribbles the ball away and wasting a great break. Union keeping the ball and nicely linking up together, but not threatening the goal with purpose or accuracy.

15' Again, Union gelling in midfield, but Arrieta's cross is too strong and aimless.

16' Hscanovics' potentially gruesome challenge on Arrieta's standing leg only punished by a yellow card. There wouldn't have been much to complain about a red card there. Late and very pointy. I'd have some questions about that call.

17' Arrieta's delivery is better this time, but Moreno will need another couple inches if he wants to meet that ball with his head.

19' Mention of Toronto's 16,000 season ticket holders and 17,000 more on a waiting list. Very impressive.

20' Rob Stone's nice observation of the schoolyard game going on, 12-14 players in the same 30 yards of the field, all ball watching. They spent $3m on the new field and the players are only using ten dollars' worth.

22' Saric warned for persistent fouling on Fred

24' Union stalling with the ball too long between the back four...this does not portend well for our Union...

25' Yellow for Usanov, taking on Moreno's defenseless standing leg; that could have been really ugly. He could have been cautioned again for playing the drums in Hootie and the Blowfish.

26' Miglioranzi's deflected cross goes for Union corner. Torres being TP'd by Toronto supporters like the principal's house.

29' Le Toux's effort is at least ten yards wide of the goal before drifting into the stands. Distinct lack of sharpness in the final third for both teams.

31' Arrieta with a very nice ball into the box, Le Toux is pushed over and doesn't get his head to the back post.

33' Bad things happen when our back line plays it amongst themselves. Someone needs to be coming back and taking the ball from them. This will not be an acceptable practice going forward.

34' And yes, I knew this was about to happen. RED CARD FOR Danny Califf, who lazily stands over the ball before playing it back to Seitz, and sticks out an elbow in De Guzman's face which would have earned him a red card in Nelson Mandela's prison league from the World Cup on ESPN commercials, let alone an MLS game in Canada. Califf's appearance doesn't really serve his plea of innocence, either.

Seitz does his best to make Dwayne De Rosario's nasty ass famous, fumbling the free kick he easily should have stopped. Seitz' arbitrary hand claps to no one befit a player who has so disappointed his team. That would have been tough to overcome at full strength, but to pile that burden on to an undermanned side is likely to spell d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r. 1-0 Bad Guys.

37' Yellow card for Miglioranzi for a sliding challenge right on the touch line...

38' And De Rosario really should have taken the ensuing chance better than that. A low cross driven to the front post is deflected harmlessly past the goalmouth.

40' Torres' cross is fantastic, but Arrieta and Orozco miss their touches, and Frei pushes it wide.

43' De Rosario tests Seitz from 50+ yards. Not a bad idea, really. He could have been distracted by all the confetti in his box.

45' Fred does what I asked someone to do earlier, which is just pick the ball off our back line and get it moving. He finds generous time and space up the middle, giving the ball to Moreno, who gives and goes with Le Toux twice, before Torres' lofted through ball over the five TFC players between he and a composed Harvey is dispatched past Frei and over the GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLline. I'm suspect of Harvey's mental capabilities at fullback, but not his tidy finishing on display here. A rare shiny moment of class in this slog of a match. 1-1.

45' Dellacamera makes note of Torres' second assist in as many games. And that's just how we roll into...


I hope Seitz' teammates give him a proper Amish shunning. He and Califf have some 'splainin' to do. I can't help but wonder if Alejandro Moreno is a more capable candidate for captain than Califf. It's early in the season, but why wait until it's too late? He's been successful in all his whistle stops around the MLS.


Subs for Toronto: Barrett, White come on for Usanov and Saric.

46' Union forced to shackle Le Toux's creativity by playing him in a much deeper position given the circumstances.

49' Le Toux's open header from point blank range is targeted right into Frei's thankful arms. Torres' sweet delivery once again fruitlessly wasted by the overworked Union attackers.

52' Toronto pressing with more conviction, which you would expect from a team on an hour long powerplay. There should be a penalty box for red carded players, no doubt about it. Maybe one day, Danny, they'll name it after you.

53' Seitz does exceptionally well to save De Guzman's shot from 22 yards. Despite some swerve and dip, the Union keeper forces the ball around the post.

54' Barrett's header at the back post from De Guzman's cross is balded wide.

56' Torres comes off for Shavar Thomas. Torres was on the business end of a physical challenge and hasn't looked so fluid since then. A cautionary defensive change for multiple reasons. Leading immediately too...

57' Thomas on the field barely a minute before picking up a yellow card, conceding a free kick at the edge of the 18 yard box. Labrocca's cross has lots of options at the back post, but no one displays the required desire. Sanyang looks like he got whacked above the eye with a mountie's baton.

60' Toronto's last change has Peterson on for the bloodied Sanyang.

62' Thomas is just oh-so-fortunate not to give up a penalty as he hauls down Brian White by the arm inside the area. Why are our defenders so dim?

65' Union absorbing Toronto possession over the last few minutes, rarely threatening or threatened.
Gargan goes down with a hamstring issue, leaving Toronto in an awkward spot, having used all three of their substitutions.

68' And he is getting a vigorous man rub on the upper thigh from the physio. This is ESPN, not LOGO, geez.

70' De Rosario's scissored effort goes wide, almost making the impossible look simple. Very impressive.

71' Le Toux's low crosses from set plays have been disappointing all night. Not quite sure what he's attempting there, but he needs to stop.

73' Jacobson off for Okugo.

75' Seitz allows the ball to lay up over the cross bar from Labrocca's deflected shot, which goes for a corner anyway.

78' Philadelphia retreating back to the keeper with their rare spell of possession. Lots of consecutive passes but ultimately turned over, allowing Toronto to win another corner. Gagan's header brings the crowd to their feet before they realize which side of the net was impacted.

80' Barrett's low shot certainly forces Seitz to work to save and hold possession. Fair to say there is a sizable dossier leaguewide on Seitz' shortcomings based on his first few starts.

80' OH FFFFFFUUUUUUUUDDDDDDGGGGEEEE. Penalty awarded against Seitz, who helps himself to a couple of slaps at White's feet, forced to make a decision not in his mental wheelhouse.

82' I HAVE MY FIRST REAL PURE HATE OF AN OPPONENT, so thanks for that, Dwayne De Rosario. I really had a hard time accepting our loss at the hands of that slimeball. He's the f*cking sixth Backstreet Boy, and he outscored us. 2-1 Bad Guys. De Rosario actually kind of looks like Scott Hall, too.

83' The Union will need a real miracle if their to get anything out of this game from this point. Arrieta's strike is off target, a bit hopeful but certainly from a favorable position.

85' Union pressing higher up the field, but unable to get any serious intention behind the efforts on goal. Toronto really milking the clock for all its worth from every whistle. Can't say I really blame them.

89' Le Toux does exceptionally well in defense, extinguishing De Rosario's through ball for Barrett and saving us a bit of pride.

90' Gargan's labored challenge gives the Union a long throw opportunity into the box. Toronto breaks on the ball, before De Rosario smacks the cross bar with a strike from an offsides position. Rarely has a forward been so thankful for an offsides flag.

90' Toronto content to play keepaway for the game's remainder.

Brainless mistakes by the defensive core again undo all the positive play made possible by the attacking players.  The manager needs to teach these players the kind of discipline they're going to need to facilitate their physicality.  Otherwise, tough tackles will just put us in tough spots, and no amount of South American or French magic is going to be enough to compensate.

15 April 2010

(Definitely Not An) Overnight Success

"I did it overnight, it couldn’t happen any quicker"
-Toronto rapper Drake

"Well the destination reached in down-a East detention
Where they whip down me pants look up me bottom"
-Toronto rapper Snow

As the kickoff for GAME 3 approaches, I am mostly free of the worries and doubts I had about the beginning of our franchise. It was mildly disappointing to lose the first match in team history on the road in Seattle, but not even managing to score was more worrying than disappointing. We wouldn't lose every game, and we'd eventually have to score, but a nagging doubt would still broadcast doomsday scenarios in my head. How long would it take to score? To win? Would we ever win? Could we go a whole season without winning????

Gratefully, Sebastien Le Toux must have been reading my thoughts, because he assuaged my troubled mind in splendidly swift fashion, smashing the game-long duck to pieces before half of the crowd were in their seats. And he would keep the party going all night long, collecting a hat trick as well as the Union's first MLS scalp. With the exception of a major mental error, the Union looked like the dominant side for most of the evening, and the eventuality of Le Toux's gamewinner was never really threatened.

So with a quality victory under our belts, we turn our attention to the newly created Canadian MLS franchise. I am still bitter from the Olympic Men's Hockey Gold Medal Game, and could really go blue in the face with Canadian hate speech...but I won't.

Last week, AUCU was stuck for words to write about a D.C./Philly sports rivalry without a lot of history. Toronto, and their F.C., challenge me in a different way. I have a surprisingly bottomless supply of hatred for The Only American City In Canada. Since TFC is owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, they share more than a few DNA strands with the Laffs, and as such, in 2007 they were forged in the flaming fires of failure into a sporting lineage devoid of any reason to celebrate for the last 43 years. And the Red Bulls think 15 years is a long time?

In any given spring of the early 00's, there were a few certainties: a couple of Neptunes-produced jams in heavy rotation, and a bloody mess of a playoff series between the Flyers and Laffs. The most fascinating aspect of this rivalry was the mentality of both teams, and their coaches, which dictated that, win or lose, the team that survived would be so tired and beaten that winning was not so different from losing. The respective atmospheres of the home crowds buzzed at a level only possible when the right combination of passion, history, blood, and artistry come together. Toronto played for Canadians no matter what Tim Horton's they went to.

Given the quality of the rivalry, I might be expected to have and give some begrudging admiration or respect for that team, or their fans. I don't, and I won't.

And maybe I should examine Toronto's lineup, and make observations and comments about funny names or funnier heritages. But guess what? I didn't recognize a single name on their roster. That could be the Blue Jays batting rotation for all I know.  Or the Marlies.  Or the Raptors.  I mean, honestly, who cares?????

Ah crap, just remembered this.  Kick someone for me tonight, Danny.

Game on.