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May 26, 2016

Goals galore, with a side of incompetence: Player grades and analysis for Union 2, Orlando 2

Soccer Union
052616_tranquillo_PSP Courtesy: Philadelphia Union/for PhillyVoice

Tranquillo Barnetta scored the opening goal in the Union's 2-2 draw with Orlando City.

We haven't talked about the referees in a while, and blaming the guy with the whistle is usually a cheap way for coaches, fans, and media to deflect from poor performances.

But that's not the case here. The Union have legitimate gripes about what happened on Wednesday night.

Sorin Stoica made at least five game-changing calls, or non-calls.

  1. Did Andre Blake really concede that penalty? Did Kaka sell it? Was it somewhere in between?
  2. Was the Union denied a second-half penalty when Warren Creavalle was taken down in the box?
  3. Did Cyle Larin foul Andre Blake on the first Orlando goal?
  4. Did Kaka foul Keegan Rosenberry in the build-up to the second Orlando goal?
  5. Did the ball even cross the line? Or was it cleared by Fabinho? I still have not seen a goal-line camera angle of that incident.

Stoica was all over the place last night. He sent off David Mateos in the second half, but only showed Servando Carrasco a yellow for an off-the-ball kick at C.J. Sapong. Sebastien Le Toux got clocked in the face twice. Brian Carroll had a go at Kaka from behind. Other guys got away with punishment that didn't fit the crime, in the sense of both harshness and leniency.

It's disappointing for both sides to have to play through that kind of officiating.

Otherwise, the Union put in a solid defensive performance on the road. They bagged a couple of scrappy set-piece goals that could have been good enough for three points on another night.

Crabcakes and restarts, that's what the Union does

Philly now has three set piece goals in two games vs. Orlando this season.

That makes it five set-piece goals this season. which accounts for 29 percent of their 17 total tallies.

On the first goal, it's really just Ken Tribbett lumping a restart into the attacking third. Chris Pontius does an excellent job of rising to meet it around the 17-yard mark, and Tranquillo Barnetta is peeling off to drive home the service.

It's a brilliant re-direction from Pontius, and equally horrendous defense from Orlando.

On the second Union goal, it's a smart short corner to move the ball closer to goal. Barnetta drives a low cross in, Joe Bendik pushes it into a terrible position, and Tribbett taps home while his marker, Julio Baptista, points at his teammates.

Both goals were the product of "wanting it more", and that's what set pieces boil down to.

I actually thought the best routine of the night was the one that they did not score on. It was just after the first goal, and the Union lined up in the same offside wall setup that was used on Barnetta's goal in the first Orlando/Philly matchup. This time, instead of taking a shot on goal, they pulled the wall up, then peeled off, playing in C.J. Sapong and trying to get an easy cross on goal. Cyle Larin was the only Orlando player to react, and he was able to break up the attack. I thought it was a brilliant piece of planning from assistant coach B.J. Callaghan, with deception based on the scenario that played out a few weeks back.

The only negative I saw in the restart department was on the counterattack leading up to the conceded penalty. Orlando is able to clear the ball from the box, then Warren Creavalle and Fabinho both lose challenges on the left flank, resulting in the 2v1 that put Kaka in on goal.

Warren Creavalle, destroyer of worlds

That missed tackle on the counterattack was one of Creavalle's few mistakes.

He was my “man of the match” in this one.

On Friday night, I felt like he was trying to readjust to that #8 role, which he hadn't played in awhile.

This time around, he looked much more comfortable floating from box to box and making life uncomfortable for Orlando. His ability to press in advanced positions complemented Brian Carroll's skill set nicely, which allowed for well-timed moments of secondary pressure and bracketing. Kaka was certainly frustrated in the first half, and only really started to impact the game when things began to loosen up a bit after Adrian Heath's double change.

Additionally, Creavalle set the defensive tone early with a crunching tackle on Brek Shea.

Check out his event map in this one:

green triangle = tackles won (4)
inverted red triangle = tackles lost (3)
blue triangle = interception (10)
orange triangle = recovery (9)
green pentagon = fouls won (2)
red pentagon = fouls conceded (3)


Starting XI: Blake, Fabinho, Marquez, Yaro, Rosenberry; Carroll, Creavalle; Le Toux, Barnetta, Pontius; Sapong

C.J. Sapong: B-

His best scoring chance was that little splitting ball that got him between the central defenders, but Bendik came out quickly to narrow the angle on goal.

No goals and no assists in this one, but he put into another dogged shift in the hold-up game.

Sebastien Le Toux: C+

Not much offensively from Seba in this one, but he played a very nice defensive game, helping Rosenberry on the right flank and tracking back into helpful positions on multiple occasions.

The blow he took to the back of the head from Kaka was borne of frustration, since it was Le Toux's horizontal coverage that prevented the Brazilian from finding the ball alone at the top of the box.

Tranquillo Barnetta: A-

He was a bit slow to get started on the turf and in the heat.

But the more Barnetta gets on the ball, the more he starts to feel his way into the game and the more he begins to impact things going forward. Consider the fact that he's working with a pair of two-way wingers and a true hold-up man; that puts a lot of stress on the #10 to generate offense in a defensive-minded shape.

It was rare to see him score from a restart, since he's usually the man standing over the ball.

Chris Pontius: B

Whenever it feels like Pontius is invisible out there, he pops up with a goal or assist.

Pontius has been sneaky good in the air this season, and finally tonight someone was able to finish one of those headers that he's been able to steer toward the far post.

Brian Carroll: B

He did a good job on Kaka for a large chunk of the game, really playing him tightly and trying to get stuck in. Carroll even took an uncharacteristic swing from behind, after a questionable foul call that didn't go his way. He seemed more “intense” in this game.

Warren Creavalle: A

He's a much different #8 than Vincent Nogueira, and doesn't have the same passing skills, but he played a very nice game on Wednesday night.

Here's the gif of the penalty no-call:

Fabinho: C

Put in a couple of crosses going forward, but this felt like a rather shaky defensive performance from the left back.

Richie Marquez: B

It seemed like he was a bit static on the second goal, where Larin was able to find that little gap between the center back and the fullback. It was definitely a good cross from Kaka.

I can't really fault him on the first one. It was probably a foul to begin with, and it's really hard to pull out of those defensive runs when your goalkeeper is charging forward and trying to call you off.

Marquez was solid otherwise.

Josh Yaro: B+

It was a shame to see Yaro go off, because he's been very good lately. He had a solid first half before needing the sub.

Keegan Rosenberry: C+

He had two good tackles early on, one against Kaka and one against Rivas.

On the Larin goal, he's probably fouled with that push off. Who gets that call? Does a rookie right back get the call? Or do you give it to the superstar Brazilian Ballon D'or winner on his home field?

Anyway, this was the second straight game where Rosenberry didn't get enough offensive involvement in the game. They're a better team when they can get the ball to his feet in advanced positions.

Andre Blake: B

You can decide for yourself whether or not he conceded that penalty. The resulting save made up for that iffy call.

On the Molino goal, I'm not sure how many keepers are holding onto that ball when you've got three guys barreling down the field at you.


45' Ken Tribbett: A

Ken Tribbett came off the bench to get his first career goal and first career assist.

It bears repeating.

Ken Tribbett came off the bench to get his first career goal and first career assist.

By the way, he was also stellar defensively, after missing a chunk of time with an ankle injury.

70' Fabian Herbers: C+

He was oh-so-close to that first goal. Herbers also took the foul that resulted in the Mateos red card and I felt like he had a bit more of an impact in this game.

90' Leo Fernandes: N/A

Mop up duty for Leo, who might get some minutes in Colorado, along with Roland Alberg.

Referee: Sorin Stoica: F-

He had a shocker.