The Inside Doop: Their best win ever
CHESTER, Pa. – Saturday’s 4-0 rout of Sporting Kansas City wasn’t just the best moment of the Philadelphia Union’s otherwise dismal 2012 season. It may have just been the most impressive performance in franchise history.
How did they score four goals against the league’s best defense while completely shutting down Kansas City’s potent attack? Let’s take a look back in this week’s installment of “The Inside Doop.”Three thoughts about Saturday’s game
1. Jack McInerney said it best after the game: he’s not the biggest guy on the field and he’s not the fastest. But the 19-year old forward knows how to put himself into the right spots and score goals – as he did by netting a pair of first-half sitters to send the Union well on their way to victory. If you’re a striker, is there anything more important? With his two-goal performance, McInerney probably bought himself a place in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future. And for a team that’s still last in the league in goals scored (even after Saturday’s four-goal outburst), that’s definitely a good thing.
2. While McInerney understands his role as a poacher, fellow striker Antoine Hoppenot also knows what he has to do – which, in simplest terms, is to run. And on Saturday, the rookie speedster did that perfectly, getting behind the defense at least three times, scoring his first league goal with a beautiful chip shot and getting taken down on the box to draw a penalty kick. Hoppenot, who’s come on as a late sub over the past few games, knows he’s able to take advantage of the fact that defenders are wearing down at that point of the game. But that’s no matter to Michael Farfan, Freddy Adu, Amobi Okugo and the rest of the Union players who are able to effectively play through balls to a streaking Hoppenot, who’s quickly established himself as the team’s most dangerous attacking player off the bench.
3. While McInerney and Hoppenot got most of the highlights, the Union’s defense must be lauded for preventing Kansas City from getting practically any legitimate scoring chances. And that was without top fullback Sheanon Williams, who was sidelined with a toe injury. But as he has all season, center back Carlos Valdes – probably the Union’s most likely all-star – punished the opposition and anchored a small but speedy Philly backline. And now it looks like more help is on the way as reports have linked the Union to 6-foot-4 center back Bakary Soumaré, a former MLS Defender of the Year finalist.Three questions for the upcoming week
1. The Union have a very interesting game coming up on Tuesday as they host their affiliate, the Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL-Pro division, in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. The Union aren’t happy about playing their own affiliate in such an important matchup but are prepared to continue their tournament run, just as the City Islanders are. The Union certainly have more talent but Harrisburg has enjoyed a charmed run through the tourney, already having beaten two MLS teams in dramatic fashion. Who has the edge in this one? It shouldn’t be a question and yet somehow it is.
2. With a U.S. Open Cup game Tuesday and then a two-game road trip vs. Houston (June 30) and the Los Angeles Galaxy (July 4), will Hackworth add some players to the rotation? The club’s new head coach has previously said he wants to have a stable lineup (unlike his predecessor, Peter Nowak) but he’s also commended his team’s depth. He’ll probably do some lineup tinkering over the next two weeks but how much he’ll do is still up in the air.
3. Unfortunately, the Union are battling some injury problems, with Williams and striker Chandler Hoffman both missing Saturday’s game with broken toes and midfielder Gabriel Gomez and Roger Torres still on the mend from knee injuries. Which of those players will be back in time to help the club over their upcoming grueling three-game stretch? We still don’t know.Fact of the week:
Saturday’s four-goal win matched the franchise record for the Union’s largest margin of victory. The only other time they won by four goals was on May 28, 2011 when they blasted Toronto, 6-2. The last time the Union scored that many goals was in a 4-4 draw with New England on Sept. 7, 2011.Quote of the week:
“The first announcement I heard is that if we scored three goals, Great Clips is giving free haircuts to everyone at the game tonight. So I guess we all get free haircuts.” – interim manager John Hackworth, after Saturday’s winPlayer of the week:
McInerney gets the nod for leading the charge and setting the tone for the game with his pair of first-half goals Saturday.Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for CSNPhilly.com and MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.