All Access Soccer

MLS Saturday Night… Vancouver vs Philadelphia

Roland Alberg and the Philadelphia Union started off hot once again.  Alberg found the net in the 14th minute.  Alberg collected a ball that came off the far left post and to his foot.  The lead didn’t last long as Andrew Jacobsen brought the contest even in the 19th minute for Vancouver.  As the first half continued, it was clear that this was not going to be a defensive masterpiece.  Both teams had multiple scoring chances after Vancouver tied the match 1-1.

Things began to heat up and get physical as the half wore on.  In the 36th minute, Tranquillo Barnetta earned a yellow for the Union.  In the 41st minute, Kekuta Manneh carved up the Union defense and went on a sprint from midfield until he found the left post and the ball caromed far post to stick for the goal.  That goal was the final goal of the first half.  The Union came out fast in the 2nd.  Ilsinho drew a yellow on Kekuta Manneh in the 50th minute.  Seconds later, Tranquillo Barnetta had the first shot on goal for the Union in the half but it was stopped by Vancouver keeper Ousted.  Posession continued to be dominated by the Union as they kept the ball in Vancouver territory the majority of the first 10 minutes of the second half.  in the 64th minute, Morales left the match as Russell Teibert.  Philly followed suit as Ilsinho was replaced by Chris Pontuis.  Pontius has been healthy so far this season and has been a large part of the success the Union has had to date this season.  Pontius has consistently contributed in matches he has started as well as when he has come in off the bench for Union coach Jim Curtin.  In the 71st minute Pontius just missed an incredible volley he collected from Fabian Herbers as it sailed high over the goal.  In the 76th,  minute the Union made their second substitution as they replaced Fabian Herbers with Walter Restrepo.  This was an interesting substitution because Herbers was the only true striker available for this match.  In the 79th minute Vancouver used it’s final substitution to replace Kekuta Manneh with Christian Techera.  THe Union then replaced Fabinho with Leo Fernandes in the 82nd minute.  Vancouver put this match away in the 84th minute when once again the Union defense was truly taken to task as Christian Balanos gets separation and rifles a shot for their third goal.  Who did we mention earlier in the story?  Yes, Chris Pontius.  Pontius added a goal for the Union in extra time.  It was not enough as Vancouver held on for the 3-2 victory.  For the Union, this was their first loss at home this season.

Both coaches had lots to say after the match.  Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson , “It was a big win, a very important win because we didn’t take care of business at home last week against New England. We played very well. We made one or two individual mistakes and in this level it catches up on you. So today we wanted to show a little bit of character – and I think we showed a lot of character – and be in contention towards the end of the game and we were. So, all credit to the guys in there. It’s not an easy place to come, this place. We’ve never won here, but we have tonight.” When asked about his team’s resilience to come back from down 0-1, “Like I said, good character in the group. They get along very well every day and it’s important because if you don’t do that coming into work 300 days a year is a bit… daunting. So the guys work their socks off and make individual mistakes sometimes, and my coaching job is to improve them on a daily basis so we do, and today we showed a lot of character coming back from a goal behind. We haven’t done it too many times but in Major League Soccer in general, teams that concede the first goal don’t usually go on to win the game. We’ve done it well, I don’t want to do it too often to be honest. I like to go ahead more than behind, but when you have the ability to do it, it’s helpful.”  He went on to Comment about his squad showing dynamic scoring options.  “Listen, we’re a team and we’ve got to score goals by committee, we haven’t got an individual scorer that can score 20 goals like some teams, and we know that. Will that change? I’m not sure. Players have got to step up, you see it at the Euros now, you’ve got world class players, superstar forwards that aren’t scoring goals but the team is stepping up for them and that’s what we are, we’re a team and we stick together. I don’t really care who scores. David Ousted can score a goal if he wants.”

Some of Philly’s Jim Curtin’s post game comments.   “So, not a feeling that the group is used to – or likes. First loss at home comes exactly at the midway point. Again, the guys are really disappointed, upset, frustrated because on the night I thought we played really good soccer. We had some of our best actions in terms of possessions, movements, the goal. Credit to Vancouver, they made some big blocks, the goalkeeper made a few saves, especially early. When we were buzzing a little bit in the first half.

Again, difficult because we give up three goals at home, which we’re not happy about. Again, getting a little too stretched against a team that counters the way that Vancouver does. They break quickly, I thought Hurtado was dangerous or them, holding the ball up, letting their team move. Obviously Kekuta Manneh in space was a handful for us. I don’t think we gave up a ton of chances, but the ones that we did, we were punished for, and good teams punish you. And Vancouver is a good team. We have a good team too, and that needs to be said. This group fights hard every game; they never quit until the end. On a different night, I think that we could get points out of this one. I thought the performance again was strong, was good. You’re starting to see a lot of good combinations and movement, just got to get the final pass right and finish our chances. Again, on a different night I think we get more goals.”

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