A wandering back pass, a failed Cruyff and a straight red
Although the rain and raging winds from Tropical Storm Elsa have dissipated, the Philadelphia Union created its own storm Thursday night against the New York Red Bulls, wreaking havoc in an otherwise even game until the heroism of Sergio Santos recovers a point on the road. Overtaken by their northern rivals for much of the first half, the Union opened the second with several quality chances and fired a warning shot when Jakob Glenes snatched a free kick off the wall.
Seconds later, the unthinkable happened.
Coming back from a long clearance following the Union’s attempt to keep the free kick blocked at the other end, the Norwegian defender returned a lazy ball to Matt Freese who died in the grass and forced Freese into a position. precarious. Freese complicated the situation by failing to get the ball out of harm’s way. Instead, his Cryuff attempt was cut short by Red Bull Wiki midfielder Carmona, causing Freese to grab Carmona’s waist to prevent a scoring opportunity, which led to his certain dismissal.
Even though the Union seemed to have a hold on the game, Union fans were still infuriated by the. Dru Yearwood’s cheap shot at the end of the first half on Jamiro Monteiro who was given a closer look by VAR but still received a yellow card. The two faults were questionable because of the contrast of aggressiveness displayed by each offender but incomparable given the situational placement on the field.
What happened next was predictable. Joe Bendik came to stop the penalty with the exit of Daniel Gazdag, who had been the Union’s most threatening attacking player. Patryk Klimala buried the PK. And after conceding the goal, the Union fell into a 4-4-1 formation with top Kacper Przybylko.
Until then, Przybylko’s presence in the game was perhaps as suspicious as the parking lot outside the Red Bull Arena, and with fewer attacking options due to the loss of Cory Burke to the Gold Cup and Anthony Fontana on injury, the hope of an equalizer fell on the back of Sergio Santos. Luckily for the Union, Santos came twenty minutes from the save and recovered a point after nodding at Olivier Mbaizo’s cross in the 85th minute, a result the Union deserved before the red card.
It’s easy to label the blame after a disaster, but what caused the red card? The Col de Glesnes? Freese’s decision-making? Both? What could also be worrying is how the whole streak came about from a Union free-kick outside the Red Bull area when Union fans had visions of another golazo of Glesnes.
Here’s a closer look at the blackout that led to the Union’s self-inflicted temporary demise.
At least partial blame must be attributed to Glesnes. When he received the ball in front of his own goal, he disregarded his own movement, the angle of the pass, the support and the defender. Carmona closed the gap in a sprint in midfield and was the only defender within thirty yards, but Glesnes did his 22-year-old goalie a disservice with an MLS start under his belt. Although Freese is an accomplished young player and varsity player with a growing pedigree, his only action for the Union came against New England last November.
A majority of the fault will fall on Freese as he settles inside the goal frame rather than outside the goal, inviting a pass through the mouth of the goal, which is dangerous to start with. A harder ball and he could have hit it to his right and cleared it. But with Glesnes slipping away from goal and Carmona on his inside shoulder, Freese had to demand that pass outside the frame where Glesnes could eliminate Carmona so he could bury her in the stands. Unfortunately for Freese, he made the best save of the game early in the game when he pushed Klimala back at close range.
Glesnes’ pass was soft and careless, and Freese handled the situation poorly, trying to put the ball back under pressure rather than pushing it back or taking a first touch where he could use his giant frame to protect himself before clearing. So both players are at fault, but if we want to slice it up we could call it 60-40 on Freese. A difficult situation for a young goalkeeper replacing Andre Blake while he is absent from the Concacaf Gold Cup.
Union coach Jim Curtin was quick to back Freese after the game. “The position of goalkeeper is cruel,” he said. After citing Freese’s pre-match preparation and his age in relation to the average age of top goalkeepers, he added: “It’s an unhappy game, but it will be part of his growth and development.”
Freese will miss the next game against DC United at home on July 17, which means Joe Bendik will likely face the team that broke up Toronto fc last week 7-1 and ended Chris Armas’ short tenure with Toronto. Bendik has seen his share of action during his twelve-year career, appearing in more than 300 MLS games. Union fans will remember his faltering outing against Columbus last November, but hope his experience will bring the club back to their winning habits before the international break.