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Union dominate sluggish TFC in 3-0 rout



CHESTER, Pa. — Less than a month into the tenure of interim manager John Hackworth, the Philadelphia Union suddenly look like a whole new team.

Led by some outstanding attacking performances and a rock-solid defense, Philadelphia dominated possession and dictated the tempo for the duration as they defeated last-place Toronto FC, 3-0, in front of a near-sellout crowd at PPL Park on Sunday afternoon.

Gabriel Gomez and Freddy Adu each scored goals in the same three-minute span during the first half, as Philadelphia took a 2-0 lead into the locker room having controlled 70 percent of possession. In the second half, substitute Antoine Hoppenot came on and scored a third goal, sealing a relatively easy win for the Union.

Toronto, which had entered Sunday on a five-game unbeaten streak, more closely resembled the team that opened the season with nine straight losses. The Union didn't allow them any time on the ball and their chances were few and far between.

"We made them chase in the first half," said Hackworth. "We felt like the team that dictated the rhythm and tempo of the game was going to make the other team do a lot of work, and I think that was pretty evident."

In the 10 league games the Union played this season before former manager Peter Nowak was let go, they scored only eight goals. Since then, Philadelphia has scored 10 goals in just five games under Hackworth, including a 4-0 win over Sporting Kansas City and Sunday's 3-0 win over Toronto.

"We have good attacking players," Hackworth said. "They feel like they have some freedom to go to goal, and we've been encouraging them to go to goal. Fortunately for us, they're finding the back of the net, and that means everything. We're doing it with a lot of different guys."

One of those guys has been Jack McInerney, who seems poised for a breakout under the new regime. He has been a fixture in the starting lineup since Hackworth took over, and on Sunday he assisted on both of the Union's two first-half goals.

Also impressive was Freddy Adu, who in recent weeks has started to resemble the player that many thought he could become when he entered the league nearly a decade ago. Sunday may have been his best performance since joining Philadelphia.

"Sometimes you just get in a zone. I just wish I was in that zone all the time," said Adu. "Today was just one of those days where my teammates did a great job of finding me in dangerous spots. When I did get the ball, I was aggressive. That's what my teammates and my coaches tell me they need out of me."

Toronto were left scratching their heads as to what went wrong, having entered the match on their best run of the year. In fact, Toronto collected its first win of the season back on May 26 against the Union. But on Sunday, they were outplayed at every turn.

"Philly played very well. It was proabably just a bridge too far for us today," said Toronto coach Paul Mariner. "They were sharper than us in the first half. We tried to quell it a little bit but the movement was excellent. It was just too much for us."

Philadelphia will continue a busy stretch of games on Wednesday, when they host Kansas City in a US Open Cup semifinal. Toronto will also return to action on Wednesday, hosting the Vancouver Whitecaps at BMO Field. Here are the match highlights from the Union's 3-0 victory:



  1. Good point about Nowak being a good evaluator of talent as it looks like Philly has a bunch of good players on the team.

    The one interesting thing is how the younger players (i.e. Pfeiffer, Hernandez, McLaughlin, Hoffman) have been unable to break through and get consistent playing time. They must be getting time in practice, but can’t be doing well enough to get on the field in the games. Anyone have any thoughts??

  2. Adu has not been consistent at club level but he has always been consitent at the international level. That should be all that matters once you see that trend time and again. Everytime Adu puts on the USA jersey he shows his quality and has an impact. Sarasota is right, he should be on the USMNT before Torres.

  3. It’s no wonder Okugo is such a good CB…most DMids are since they typically drop to the backline as the outside backs attack. Gomez did it a lot today but he still scores which is impressive. Brian Carroll is more of that typical American DMid destroyer who just sits in front of the backline. Both fine players but different styles IMO.

    The most impressive thing about Hack so far is how he just “gets it”. Tactically he makes all the right moves, the players clearly are playing for him, and his in game changes are good antidotes to the play…but also never out of left field like Nowak’s. This team has an embarrassment of riches though. Once Soumare and Torres are fully fit and the team adds a player or two this window, there won’t be any lack of quality on the match day subs bench. I’ve always said that Nowak was a good evaluator of talent and could e a great GM but the guy can’t lead a team to save his life…and they’re showing that now.

  4. Bobo think you typical Toronto fan. You think a couple of players away from Barcelona. Bobo laugh. You think Mr. Mariner good coach. Bobo laugh. You think they get good trades in Toronto. Bobo laugh.

    Bobo feel sorry for Toronto fans….very sorry.
    Bobo think next year, no season ticket holders in Toronto except for this guy who post in here. Bobo happy. Will be able to buy tickets anywhere in stadium for $5.

  5. He was very good in the second half of the game as well. The whole match had slowed down by that point. He was dangerous every time he got the ball for the whole 90 minutes.

    Also lol at the above comment about needing to be man of the match every single game in order to have “any hope” of being on the USMNT.

  6. Hold your horses, sir. You’re certainly correct that Adu “is not afraid to attack” but that’s part of the problem. Adu’s belief in himself is much more than his ability. He’s caught with the ball far too much and he doesn’t dictate and dominate MLS games the way USMNT players should. Even today, he was anonymous in the second half.

    Adu hasn’t put together a good 90 minutes this season and, given his salary, he really isn’t pulling his weight for Philly. He’s getting better but he really shouldn’t be on the USMNT radar.

  7. Agreed. Actually, Adu has been extremely inconsistent for the Union this season. If this heralds his rest of the season form, then I’ll agree with you. But not yet.

  8. The new Union under Hackworth are so much better and the 4-3-3 he uses allows Philly to keep the ball better and to attack more.

    They’ll be vulnerable to team who can get the ball and get it wide, but until then, they’re looking good.

    Jack McInerney looks like a completely new player. He honestly used to be hopeless and now he’s put together a run of games in which he has truly played well. Pajoy working hard, playing well and is fitting in. MacMath has steadied himself. I think the team and the fans have been re-energized with the dismissal of Novak and Hackworth’s attacking approach.

    I’m looking forward to Soumare and hopefully Okugo (who has been great) will be moved into midfield at the expense of the ponderous Gomez.

  9. Dont look too much into the shape at the actual first kick. U have been playing a 4-3-3- at home and a 4-2-3-1 on the road under hack….

  10. Okugo is certainly playing well and I think he’s a player. He’s just a bit short and since Philly are a short team, they’re vulnerable on corners, crosses, free kicks, etc.

    To be honest, I’d move Okugo into the midfield and drop Gomez (or Carroll). Gomez just plays and moves a bit too slowly and better teams and players will punish him this season (as they already have on a few occasions).

  11. Wow were Toronto bad. They looked more clueless than Philly did at the beginning of the year. Toronto kept a high line defensively, but they didn’t press the ball well or w/any coordination (forward press backline but no one was pressing midfield). Philly just plopped balls into the gaping space between the Toronto defense and the goalie. It was just that simple. Toronto were so bad.

  12. Yes TFC looked terrible today, buy they JUST had like a 6-7 game unbeaten streak, so don’t write them off yet. Paul Mariner will turn them around, he has already started making changes, like Julian DeGuzman not being an automatic starter just because he’s stealing DP money.
    The team still has some problems (defense, mediocrities like Dunfield), but let’s see what they do in this transfer window…

  13. Curious to see what happens when Soumare is ready to play with Okugo playing VERY well as a CB. He really looks to be a find at CB, good defensively and good passing out of the back, could have a bright future in that position a la geoff cameron.

  14. No one mentioned that Philly lined up with offense in mind. I noticed at kickoff we were 4-2-4. This is Coach Hackworth, take the game to the other team. I’m very excited with the possibilities of this team. Freddy was on fire, M Farfan with his usual great vision, stable defense, what else can you ask for. Hopefully they sneakup on a few more teams (LA at home!).

  15. How is TFC continually this bad? The entire league is set up to enforce roster parity and TFC has plenty of money for coaching and facilities.

  16. I think they’re both valuable components of our national team future, but Freddy needs to play at this level for the rest of the season if he has any hope of being called in. Even then, we’re talking about a January callup in which he would have to outshine a few central/south American B-sides to leapfrog whomever Klinsmann rates ahead of him.

  17. Coach Klinsmann,
    Adu > Jose Torres. The young man deserves more of an opportunity to showcase his skill in your 23. He shows well at the international level and is not afraid to attack. The kid has guts and a desire to win. We could use a Giovani type player in the mix who provides flair and energy.

  18. Yes they are stable finally. But they are also not playing afraid anymore. Nowak had them scared to death. They have more freedom to attack at will and that’s just what they’ve been doing. They will make the second half of the season very interesting if they keep scoring like this. Also the D wants to play for McMath and it really showed on more than one goal line stand today.

  19. +1. Also, it’s like this psychological burden has been lifted from the team (and comments from the Union stable seem to indicate as much). They’re playing like they enjoy it, and it’s done amazing things for just about everyone. Okugo has been a revelation, to be sure, but I’m shocked at McInerney’s form under Hack vs Nowak. And at the risk of jumping the gun, USMNT watchers should keep a close eye on Hoppenot’s career. This kid seems the real deal.

  20. What has changed most with the Union is stability. While the line-up may vary a little game-to-game, it basically resembles a stable line-up – unlike under Nowak. These line-ups also make sense, unlike over the previous 18 months where no line-up ever was repeated seemingly intentionally. You can see this as much in the starting XI as in the fact that the available subs are stable as well over this period.

    More than anything today was the ball control and care taken to make passes count or maintain control of the ball. Of course, it helps that Toronto was playing a pretty passive game.


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