This is a guest feature by Matt Acconciamessa, founder and editor of US Soccer Daily.
All we are saying…
…is give us a goal…
The chants and pleas of the PPL Park faithful sitting there above this sentence and far too often this young season.
The Union are stringing together great results here early in the season and put together the club’s first ever winning streak, but it would be a challenge to label it scintillating soccer.
Through 9 matches, the Philadelphia Union have managed to score just 6 goals. It’s a stark contrast to the 2010 side that put together attractive, attacking play in their inaugural campaign, and a statistical comparison of the two seasons (through 9 matches) reflect that.
Before delving into that, it bears mentioning that there was a lot of offseason change in Chester, with several key contributors leaving, a couple of recent signings assuming more prominent roles, and some entirely new faces joining the squad. Defensively, everything’s “coming up Milhouse“; Carlos Valdes and Faryd Mondragon are two early contenders for the All-Star team, if not the Newcomer of the Year award.
Offensively? Well, the analogy there would be if Homer laced ‘em up.
Alejandro Moreno and Shea Salinas departed via the expansion draft, Fred through the re-entry draft, and Andrew Jacobson through trade. Thus far, Carlos Ruiz has been called upon to fill Moreno’s shoes as a target striker, while players like Justin Mapp, Keon Daniel, Amobi Okugo, Brian Carroll, and Kyle Nakazawa have taken on bigger roles in the midfield.
This new crop of players has struggled building chemistry and maintaining possession in the attacking half all season, leading to a noticeable drop off in several notable offensive categories. Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Statistical comparisons between 2010 & 2011 seasons through 9 games:
Shots per game (’10 to ’11)- 10.89 down to 7.56
Shots on goal per game- 5.67 down to 2.89
Corner kicks per game- 4.22 down to 2.11
Goals (goals per game)- 11 (1.22) down to 6 (0.67)
Goals from the run of play- 9 (81.8%) down to 3 (50%)
Across the board, the Union are failing to create as much in the final third as they did a year ago. Daniel and Mapp have had some promising moments out wide, but haven’t been able to consistently stretch the defense, leading to a lot of stalled attacks, back passes, and a lack of corner kicks won. The same can be said in the middle of the park, where there hasn’t been a ton of creative play going forward thanks in part to some conservative lineup selection.