Saturday, August 14, 2010

Union hope to cure defensive woes

By John McMullen

Chester, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - Time and time again the Philadelphia Union has outplayed their opponent only to look up after 90-plus minutes and find nothing to show for it.

Philadelphia's penchant for letting in soft goals has the club staring at some rather ignominious history in its inaugural season. The Union are the only team in MLS that has not recorded a defensive shutout this season, with a league-worst 1.88 goals-against-average.  No team in MLS history has gone the entire season without a defensive shutout with the record low being two, set on six previous occasions (most recently by the LA Galaxy in 2008.)

Goalkeeper Chris Seitz has faced most of the criticism and deservedly so since he is dead last in MLS with a 1.86 GAA and has given up seven more goals than any other netminder. A backline that has leaned heavily on team captain Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey, Michael Orozco Fiscal and Cristian Arrieta is also under scrutiny, however.

"It getting frustrating," Califf recently told the Daily Times. "It's getting frustrating not to keep a clean sheet and to have many more chances, many more clear chances and not to be able to some away with more."

Philadelphia recently signed defender Juan Diego González, a Columbian native that brings a wealth of experience to the team and has been praised for his leadership on the back line and his heading ability.

Gonzalez, who won a Colombian Cup with La Equidad in 2008 and an International Mercosur Cup with Argentinean San Lorenzo in 2001, took over for Arrieta in the starting lineup against defending MLS Cup champs Real Salt Lake last Wednesday and ended up being the culprit on the team's lone miscue.

Gonzalez failed to clear a pass into the box and Fabian Espindola took advantage, beating Seitz on the short side.

"We just need to continue to work hard," star striker Sebastien Le Toux said, "don't put our head down or get frustrated. We still have a lot of games left."

The Union face their second Western Conference foe in the space of four days at PPL Park on Saturday when they entertain the Colorado Rapids.

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