I've read lots of excuses concerning the Union's performance. There's their coach calling out the flopping and dishonesty of players on the Sounders. I have read a criticism of the Field Turf and weather. Which would be funny if the Union thought that weather and turf were the problems, they knew they were going to be in Seattle in March for how long? Train as you fight, that's what the Dept of Defense says, that the Union would choose not to is their own fault.
There is also the natural tact that they are just a new team and haven't played together much. So was Seattle last year when they kicked the ass of Red Bull New York.
You want a legitimate reason why the Union struggled last Thursday, and will for most of the year?
24 years old- that's the age of the starting lineup that was put out. There are Olympic soccer team's with more life experience, and certainly ones with more soccer experience. Sure Nowak has experience coaching younger players, but can he turn a team that young into winners?
The Sounders by the way averaged 28.2 years old in the starting lineup, and both sides got younger through their substitutions, which is surprising since the oldest player on the Union came on as a sub.
Now, there is very little correlation between age and points per game in MLS. But there has also never been a team as young as the Union were for First Kick.
Four teenagers vs Zero
Three 30+ v Three
But what if we do it by rough guides to peak? Forwards 24-26, Attacking Mids/Wingers 25-27, Defensive Mids/Full backs 26-28, Centerbacks 27-29, Keepers 28-30. This has been a rough guide based on very preliminary work. The general idea being that attacking players are more about athleticism and defensive players are more about thinking. It was originally done for the EPL, and is still in its crude stages. But it doesn't fail the laugh test, and so I'll use it.
Philly Players within peak - 3
Seattle Players within peak - 0
PrePeak Union (within 2 years) - 2
PrePeak Sounders (within 2 years) - 5
The Union are even so young that their players aren't within two years of their peak for the positions which they play. This may mean that their fans will have to be very patient, or that Nowak will be the Coach of the Year in 2011.