I have so much disgust about the direction of our beloved Union that I am not sure where to start. After this last weeks game, narrowing down one specific area for the lads to work on is difficult. Here’s the Cliff Notes version of what is to come. Possession?…Sucked, Creating Chances?…Sucked, Going Forward?…Sucked, Clearing Crosses?…Sucked in the last 15 minutes, and Shooting on Goal?…God Awful. That should sum it up for you. This is gonna be a real “feel-good” piece.
How about this for a strategy…play 90 minutes, try to get 2 or 3 shots, and pray that 1 goes in. Then you hold down the fort by batting down the hatches for the remainder of the game. If your team performs this tactical strategy you will win 1-0. Sounds like fun huh? Italians were successful at it for decades. It is about as entertaining as watching paint dry though. These kinds of tactics are considered “anit-futbol”. It is negative result oriented play that takes the joy from the game. The Union are basically utilizing this style of play. Since the boys cannot hold possession for long stretches they rely on their ability to clog passing lanes and make the most of the rare opportunities that come in the final third.
The Union’s lack of possession could be the real culprit for the loss against San Jose. Danny Califf explained how tired they were because they had to chase their opponents for the majority of the match. The end result was an inability to hold on for the draw in the waning minutes. I am less concerned about the defense for this very reason. Our defensive play has been solid for the last few games. There is virtually no attack though. When you can only manage 2 or 3 shots per game, you have real issues with your offense. The Union cannot penetrate into the final third. Worse yet, they have not shown any ability to break through into the opposing penalty box. You can place the blame on Pajoy, after all he should shoulder some blame. He is the lone forward in the bunch. He is not the only one to blame though. Pajoy needs help. It takes an extremely special player to play affectively as a lone striker. Some of the best forwards in the world struggle to run without a mate to combine with. The Union desperately need 2 forwards. If it is Mwanga, J-Mc, Martinez, or Adu makes no difference. Any combination of these players could provide more firepower than what has been on display. Pajoy by himself is not working and I am beginning to wonder about his soccer IQ as his runs are not sharp. His inability to read what the defense gives him makes it difficult for the midfielders to find him in space or to feet.
I have said it before and I’ll scream it this time in hopes that someone for the Union might hear me. “You’re taking too many touches!!!!” How many players lose the ball on their foot? Maybe I should count in the next game but I’ll need my calculator to do so. Sure possession has been cheaply given away in every match, but when you take unneeded touches that is what happens. This is something that Piotr can fix on the training grounds but I have yet to see this improve. In practice you limit the touches to a man in everything the players do. If you spend the weeks practices with nothing but one touch training, your players will have no choice but to get the ball off their feet. Granted they’ll hate it, but it would be the best thing for them. Players love to get their touches on the ball, but too much of it leads to a team that doesn’t move the ball fast enough. Listen, if you lose the ball in your attacking third, no problem. However when you lose the ball in other parts of the pitch, your lack of possession can be a spring board to the opponents counter attacks. Common boys, get it off your damn foot and keep it moving around the pitch. The old saying is that “no man is faster than the ball”. It holds a lot of truth that this young team could stand to learn.
To be frank, I’m pretty irritated with this team. I still believe that there is talent there, but they make the same mistakes over and over. Fix the formation, fix the touches, and you’ll fix your results. Figure it out boys before it’s too late!