Despite six-goal game against Toronto, questions remain on Union's offense

Toronto FC defender Richard Eckersley (27) can't look as (from left) Kyle Nakazawa, Justin Mapp, and Sebastien Le Toux celebrate Nakazawa's goal in the Union's 6-2 victory on Saturday.
Toronto FC defender Richard Eckersley (27) can't look as (from left) Kyle Nakazawa, Justin Mapp, and Sebastien Le Toux celebrate Nakazawa's goal in the Union's 6-2 victory on Saturday. (CHRIS YOUNG / The Canadian Press)
Posted: June 03, 2011

Sometimes statistics can be misleading, and while we're not sure that's the case with the Union, there is still some question about the recent proficiency of the offense.

Seems kind of crazy to mention this after Saturday's 6-2 win at Toronto.

Regardless of the opponent, that's a lot of offense.

Then again, the opponent has to be taken into consideration. Toronto FC has allowed 23 goals, the most in Major League Soccer.

"People might say that Toronto is not a strong defensive team, but we saw good teams go to Toronto and they didn't score that many goals," said Union forward Danny Mwanga, who scored his team's final two goals.

"That showed what we are capable of."

The Union (6-3-2) have produced two straight multiple-goal games after not doing so in their first nine games. They scored six goals in those nine games and now have added eight more in the last two.

This scoring binge began with a 2-1 win against visiting Chicago. Like Toronto, the Fire isn't a strong defensive team, having surrendered 19 goals in 11 games.

By comparison, the Union have allowed nine goals in their first 11 games.

Despite their success, one wonders if the Union have turned the corner offensively.

At least this week will provide a better test. On Saturday the Union visit the defending MLS champion Colorado Rapids.

Colorado is 4-3-6 and has allowed 13 goals in 13 games. The Rapids have surrendered multiple goals in two of their MLS games. Teams will not only be battling the defending champions, but the altitude, which is why Union team manager Peter Nowak changed his training regimen this week despite the muggy conditions.

"I wanted them to run more to get used to it," Nowak said.

Now the question is whether the Union will score more.

Even Nowak, who tends to put a positive public spin on things, isn't ready to proclaim that the team has turned the offensive corner. Yet he sees progress, regardless of the last two opponents.

"I think we made steps against Chicago and another step against Toronto, and I think this is a good sign," Nowak said. "What is in the future, I am not sure."

What Nowak liked is that so many new players hit the scoring column. Mwanga, who now has three goals, was the only player who didn't score his first goal.

Justin Mapp, who was named MLS player of the week, scored two goals, while Kyle Nakazawa and Gabriel Farfan scored their first goals.

"I think we proved we can score goals from a couple of different pieces on our team, from different angles, different positions," Nowak said.

He also emphasized that scoring expectations shouldn't be limited to the forwards.

"We need to work more on this, to encourage the guys that everybody is capable of scoring, not just the guys up front," Nowak said.

That is certainly the case against the Torontos of the world.

With a 34-game season, there are bound to be droughts and then games when the offense clicks. Even though last week's effort came against a porous defense, there is no doubt that the offensive explosion energized the Union, but the players refuse to get carried away with the recent success.

"We always want to score, but it's a work in progress, and we have to keep working and can't get frustrated with each other," Mapp said. "We scored multiple goals the last two games, and that is great, but now we have a new game and have to go out and produce again."

And if it occurs this week, nobody will be questioning the opposition - or, for that matter, the Union offense.


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com, or @sjnard on Twitter.

 

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