Union manager Nowak looking for more than one goal

Union's Danny Mwanga (left) battles Seattle's Osvaldo Alonso.
Union's Danny Mwanga (left) battles Seattle's Osvaldo Alonso.
Posted: April 18, 2011

A torrential downpour and near gale-force winds notwithstanding, there was 90-plus minutes of positives for the Union against Seattle.

An edge in possession and physical brawn led to what looked to be a decisive result on the score sheet. There was even a halftime marriage proposal in Section 123.

So how did the Union arrive at a balking 1-1 final at PPL Park on Saturday?

"I think at some point we need to realize that we don't have to be afraid to score some goals," said manager Peter Nowak in response to a Union side that hasn't tallied more than one goal in MLS games this season.

Carlos Ruiz scored his second of the year off a 25-yard free kick in the 32nd minute, but it was nullified in stoppage time of regulation after Seattle's second-half super sub Fredy Montero, broken wrist and all, lofted a ball onto the head of midfielder Alvaro Fernandez for the equalizer.

"It seems like we try to give our players the option to go forward and the freedom to create chances and have a good possession game," Nowak continued. "But maybe in some capacity in the back of their heads [they feel] that we are still winning the game and that's all well and good. But winning doesn't mean you go ahead and then defend for the rest of the game."

Not being short on opportunities to score, the Union struggled with offensive cohesion yet again as Ruiz and fellow attacker Sebastien Le Toux, who primarily roamed the right flank, were unable to connect. Enter Danny Mwanga in the 59th minute and Justin Mapp in the 80th and still little arrived by way of a serious goal-scoring threat.

LeToux admitted that while the Union (3-1-1, 10 points) still remains atop the Eastern Conference standings - by virtue of a dynamic defensive corps - fluidity on offense is still a work in progress.

"We are constantly moving in position and changing where we are on the field and that can get frustrating," Le Toux said. "It's a workout every day and we are trying to get it right for the games, but as you can see we still have a lot we need to work on. The most important thing is that we are getting points and we are getting results, but we have to start scoring."

And as far as Le Toux's own scoring woes?

"It's annoying, you know. I am a forward, I am here to score goals," he continued.

Le Toux has one assist this season. By the fifth game of the MLS season last year he already accounted for four goals and three assists en route to a 14-goal, 11-assist campaign, team-highs.

"Right now it isn't really happening for me," he said. "I am happy to get wins and points, but I was really glad over the success I had on my own and that I was able to help my team. I'd like to get that back."

With Seattle (1-2-3, six points) in the books, the Union enjoys a 2-week hiatus from league play before its next match on April 30 against San Jose (4 p.m. Comcast Network). Next Saturday's match at Real Salt Lake was rescheduled for Sept. 3 as RSL prepares for a showdown with Mexican first-tier club Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League final. The winner earns a berth into the FIFA Club World Cup in December, and RSL could become the first MLS team to do so.

"We have a lot of work to do in that department and we know that," Ruiz said, getting back to the Union's offensive woes. "Our fans deserve to see exciting matches where we score a lot of goals. That hasn't happened and it should have - especially in weather like this."

By the way, the rain-soaked woman in Section 123 is now a bride-to-be.

Independence rained out

Saturday's storm forced the cancellation of the Independence home opener against South Florida's MagicJack SC (formerly the Washington Freedom of Women's Professional Soccer). A rescheduled date and time is to be determined. The Independence (1-0-0, three points) will travel to MagicJack SC on May 1 before its official home opener against Boston on Sunday, May 8 (6 p.m.) at Widener's Leslie Quick Stadium.

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