Saturday 9/5/15 at 10:30 pm Et the Philadelphia Union took to the field to play against the San José Earthquakes. After a flat performance last week at PPL Park against the New England Revs, who would have predicted a 2-1 Union victory. Maurice Edu was not available recovering from groin injury and Brian Carroll stayed back in Philly last-minute for personal reasons.
Coach Curtin gave the Captain’s armband to Tranquillo Barnetta. He said, “Tranquillo is a guy who we brought here to be a leader.” ” He’s a guy I thought by giving him the band would Empower him a little bit. I thought he had a very good night.” I would have to agree with Coach Curtin:,Barnetta was good on the ball. He helped move the ball up the field and helped out on the defensive side of the ball and Barnetta got his first MLS assist with Conor Casey’s second goal. He delivered an excellent long free kick service to Casey for the flick header into the far post 86′. If you recall, Union fans, Tranquillo Barnetta’s first outing against the NYRB August 1 was marred by a foul committed in the box 3o seconds after he entered the field of play. Barnetta was tracking Shaun Wright-Phillips when he hit the breaks, causing Tranquillo to run into the back of him. Tranquillo had nowhere to go and the Ref awarded Shaun the Penalty kick. Fast forward to last evenings game and this time it’s C J Sapong hitting the brakes and gets fouled. Only last night like so many times this season the Ref denied the Union the call. Peter Pappas and JP Dellacamera referred to Tranquillo Barnetta’s during the game wondering, as I am now, how the Referee could overlook such a foul against C J Sapong?
Another no call, that was just as outrageous, when Vincent Nogueira was taken down by the Earthquakes goalie David Bingham and the referee, Ismail Elfath, choose not to award Nogueira with a Penalty kick. Why aren’t the Union getting calls this year? Have the Union earned a reputation for themselves in the Officiating circle or are the Pro Officials just not up to the tasks of officiating a fair safe game? I join a list of Coaches like, Peter Vemes, Bruce Arena, Caleb Porter and one owner Merritt Paulson questioning the quality and apparent lack of accountability in the Pro (Professional Referee Organization.) A call Ismail Elfath got right was a hand ball in the box as the ball was heading out the end line that was committed by Fabinho, which lead to Chris Wondolowski’s pk in the 64th minute. So, last night like many times during this season the Union appeared to be fighting both the opposition and the officials.
Coach Jim Curtin has stated in earlier post game interviews, a good team finds away to win. A good team overcomes the challenges of non calls from referees. Last night was an example of a team finding a way to win the game. The Union were down 1-0 in the second half when Coach Curtin subbed out Sebastian Letoux making way for Conor Casey to enter the match. His first goal came at the 74′ off a perfectly delivered cross from Ray Gaddis. As mentioned above Casey’s second goal was at 84′ from a redirected long free kick from Tranquillo Barnetta off his head and into the far post of the net.
A few observations from last night’s win. The pairing of Steven Victoria and Richie Marquez is really developing nicely. Steven Victoria had a great game in the air, intercepting several balls in the box. Richie Marquez and Steven were able to control Chris Wondolowski. I feel the pairing of Vincent Nogueira and Tranquillo Barnetta in the middle of the field will also help control the midfield and connect the defense to the offense. Last night leaves me looking forward to the return of Cristian Miadana. It would be nice see how Miadana will complement the duo of Barnetta and Nogueira, I feel they will be come a menacing trifecta. Overall I feel the team played well and despite the lack of calls from the referee they were able to stay in the game and pull off a great win.