The Inside Doop: Union-D.C. United rivalry
WASHINGTON – There was fighting, trash talking, three red cards, an own goal and a missed penalty kick – and all that was just in the second half of Sunday’s 1-1 draw between the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United.
It was no wonder then, shortly after the dust settled, Philly defender Amobi Okugo said, “That’s what it feels like to be in a rivalry.”
Let’s take a closer look at the madness of Sunday’s game in this week’s “Inside Doop” – and, as always, see what lies ahead for the Union.Three thoughts from Sunday’s game
1. It was clear to anyone who watched: the referee lost control of the match in the final few minutes and gave the Union a break by nullifying two D.C. United goals with questionable calls. But the Union also got hit with a tough call when one of their best players, Sheanon Williams, was shown his second yellow – which came along with a red card and a suspension for Philly’s next game. With all of the pushing and shoving and penalties, Union interim manager John Hackworth said it was hard for him to keep his composure on the bench. But, unlike the person that used to manage the club, he noted it was important for him not to “go crazy on the sidelines” because that would set a bad example for a young team that he wants to “play with class.” You can question Hackworth’s tactical decisions in Sunday’s game but hearing him say that was certainly refreshing.
2. While it would be easy to blame Amobi Okugo for hitting in the ball into his own net on D.C. United’s 71st-minute equalizer, the truth is, goalie Zac MacMath should have been more assertive on the play. If you watch the replay, MacMath could have probably caught the free kick out of the air and avoided the miscommunication with Okugo, who has been an excellent defender for Philly over the past couple of months. Don’t expect that play to move Okugo out of the starting backline in favor of new acquisition Bakary Soumare, who didn’t even make the 18-man roster Sunday and is still probably not ready to anchor the defense.
3. In his first game with the Philadelphia Union, Danny Cruz got the start and played 57 minutes before coming out because of a leg cramp (which, he said afterwards, will not prevent him from practicing this week or playing in the Union’s next game). It was a mostly uneventful evening against his former team for Cruz, who came over in a trade with D.C. United for Lionard Pajoy late last week. But if there’s one thing that was easily noticeable, it was the winger’s remarkable hustle. Not since Sébastien Le Toux left town has a player chased after balls – even ones out of reach – with that much vigor. Cruz should be a valuable player on the wing for the Union, and could certainly develop into one of the team’s most popular players.Three questions for the week ahead
1. Before the Union lost to Chicago last weekend, they had reeled off four straight league wins at PPL Park. Will they be able to return to their winning ways at home this Friday against Real Salt Lake (7:30 pm, NBC Sports)? It will certainly be a tough game against one of the best teams in the Western Conference. But the Union can’t afford to give away any more points at home if they legitimately want a chance at the playoffs.
2. Freddy Adu was clearly upset to come off the field with more than 20 minutes remaining in Sunday’s game, mainly because he thought he was playing well against his old team. But the truth is that the Union’s most well-known player hasn’t played a full 90 minutes in the club’s last six games. Will Adu finally get a chance to go the distance in Friday’s game? Or will Hackworth continue to pull him out of games to get more of a two-way presence in the midfield late in games?
3. What will happen to the Union’s backline with Williams serving a one-game suspension for his red card? This question was pretty much answered by Hackworth in the postgame press conference as he said Raymon Gaddis was the most obvious choice to fill in at right back. The main question now is how the rookie will do against a dangerous RSL attack. It will be his ninth start of the season but just his second since June 23.Fact of the week:
San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski has scored one less goal this season (18) than every current player on the Union combined.Quote of the week:
“A point on the road in this league is really important. And we haven’t had that. For us to get a point on the road, no matter all the craziness, it’s important for this team.” – Union manager John HackworthPlayer of the week:
Brian Carroll played well deputizing in the midfield and did a good job getting into the right position to score the team’s only goal.Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for CSNPhilly.com and MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.