Well... To say the Philadelphia Union put in their worst performance of the season is a massive understatement. Now it was only the 4th game of the year, but that was simply awful for a professional soccer team, especially against the Chicago Fire. So let's dig a little deeper into the game and see what the Union could have maybe done better.
First off, the Union was without a lot of key players, most notably Christian Maidana who fans and the team a like really need back. They are depleted in the center of the midfield which led to Vincent Nogueira playing as the no. 10, a position he is not as effective at. Edu was also pushed up to play more box to box leaving Michael Lahoud as the defensive midfielder.
It showed throughout the whole game that the Union lacked a playmaker. They simply do not have the creativity on the ball without Maidana in the lineup (Get well soon, Maidana, the Union need you!). Nogueira is a very good player. He is quite possibly the best player to put on the Union jersey, but he is not an attacking midfielder, and he would be the first to admit that. Unfortunately, when your 1st and 2nd choice for that position are unavailable, choices have to be made.
Edu got forward more against Chicago as well, and when he did get forward, Chicago could not stop him. Unfortunately the person who stopped Edu was actually Edu. He would make great runs forward, taking on multiple defenders before errant shots or very poor passes. Even on a breakaway, he could have either had a good shot at goal or laid it off in the center of the box. He tried to do both at the same time though and the ball rolled harmlessly out for a goal kick.
Of all four of the games the Union has played so far, this one they looked like they have not practiced together at all. They lacked communication. They were way too indecisive. Perfect example of the indecision: Andrew Wenger does all of the hard work and gets into the box, but instead of taking the shot, he tried to lay it off to Fernando Aristeguieta who had already checked up thinking Wenger would take the shot.
These are the types of things that should be worked out in preseason. Now for the Union, their two bigger acquisitions, Fernando and Steven Vitoria, were acquired later in the preseason so they had less time to gel with new teammates. It is definitely a work in progress, but luckily there are 30 games left to improve. If they don't they won't be playing in November.
The Philadelphia Union recorded 0 shots on goal. They controlled parts of the match, even leading in possession, holding the ball 51.7% of the time yet they presented no challenges in the final third. Chicago had plenty of chances to score, only scoring once off the slightest of headers on a completely unmarked man.
Inside all of this poor play, Fred, a substitute for Vincent Nogueira, lasted all of 5 minutes before getting a red card for slapping Harry Shipp. This is the second straight week the Union will lose a backup to Maidana due to suspension. Don't forget that Zach Pfeffer is suspended for two games so he will miss next week's game as well.
The selection headaches for Jim Curtin will not go away at least for another week unless Maidana is able to play. The Philadelphia Union plays next Sunday at Sporting Kansas City. They'll need to play much better if they want any points next week. With all that said though, let's not forget the season is still very young and they should have 6 points now. This team has the talent to compete, that just needs to show though.