Wow. What a win. The Union haven’t scored four goals since a 4-0 victory against Sporting Kansas City on June 23, 2012. We even saw a Le Toux yellow! Without wasting any time, I’ll look at some things that stood out and then go through my ratings.
The new Union man finally made his much awaited debut. It’s too early to judge him. A stagnant San Jose attack very rarely tested Rais. In the Quakes’ few dangerous attacks, MBolhi was confident coming off his line. His punch in the second half is the best punch I have seen from a Union keeper in recent memory. His combination of athleticism and confidence shows how is he an upgrade from MacMath.
Now let’s look at the two San Jose goals. There was nothing Rais could do on Cronin’s rocket into the corner. No goalkeeper would save that. If the blame falls anywhere, our defenders should have stepped up and pressured Cronin.
On the second goal, Rais could have reacted better, but Ray should have either marked Wondo better or cleared the ball with his head (something he is terrible at). I chalk the goal up to poor defending rather than bad goalkeeping.
As far as concerns, MBolhi’s positioning looked off. I’m willing to chalk it up to rustiness from having not played from June, unfamiliarity with his teammates, and practicing for only three days. It should improve as he builds chemistry with the team. Regardless, it is worth keeping an eye on.
Wow. Anyone who reads my posts on BigSoccer knows I am one of his most vocal critics. Wenger shut me up and made me eat my words last night. Andrew looked confident for the first time in a while. His first goal was absolutely brilliant. That angle was incredibly tight and he stuffed his shot in the back corner.
Andrew’s confidence really showed in the second goal. A less confident Wenger would have passed the ball and killed the counter. Andrew did well to keep rushing forward and assertively bury the ball in the back of the net. This composure is something he has been lacking all year.
I said earlier in the year that Wenger might see more success as a wide target man. Kei Kamara at Sporting Kansas City is the best example of a big target man wreaking havoc on the wings. Wenger seems to fit that mold well. If we works on his decision-making, composure, and ability to run at defenders, Andrew might be the long-awaited answer to the left wing problem that has plagued the Union since Year Zolo.
All this being said, I would say people need to temper their expectations. Don’t forget that Danny Cruz scored a brace against Seattle last year. Did a broken clock strike twice, or can Wenger finally put all his athletic tools together? The next few weeks will be a good proving ground to see if Wenger is for real.
Jim Curtin needs to have Noggy spend all of practicing working on his finishing. Noggy wasted a few chances either by rushing his shot or forgoing a pass for a shot. He is not someone who has had historic success when it comes to goalscoring. He needs to be more disciplined and make better decisions when he is in the final third. If he wants to shoot, Curtin needs to make sure he is putting in the time in practice to make sure his shots go on frame. Bad finishing throughout the team almost cost us three points.
Has anyone else noticed he has cooled down from the beginning of the season? In the first half of the year, he was clearly our best player. I would be hesitant to say that in recent months. Does he just miss Maidana? Is it because the whole team is no longer so bad that it makes him look exceptional? Noggy played the CAM role better than he has in the past, but I still miss how effectively he bossed the midfield earlier in the year.
Props go out to Okugo and Edu who held down the midfield well. When we have played two defensive-minded midfielders this year, both players have seemed to not understand their role. Both players seemed to communicate well as they did a good job of locking down the center of the pitch. This was one of Edu’s best games all season as he provided some good support in the attack while winning some vital tackles.
Le Toux: 9
Man of the Match: Sebastian Le Toux. I know, I know. Wenger was great last night. However, Sebastian had a hand in three goals last night with a goal and two assists. Seba is back in 2010-2011 form and tied for 5th in MLS in goals. Plus, my fantasy team is incredibly thankful for his performance.