With the entire American soccer world watching as Fox Soccer debuted the new "Soccer Night in America", the Philadelphia Union once again produced an anemic offensive display away from home and fell to the Portland Timbers 1-0. It was the Union's second straight loss in as many away games, and amazingly it was the sixth game to end with the same scoreline out of the team's seven games in 2011.
The lone goal was scored by Timbers defender Mamadou "Futty" Danso, who snapped a header past Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon off an assist from captain Jack Jewsbury in the 71st minute.
It was a nearly identical way to lose a game as the Union's other loss this season, which occurred at Home Depot Center against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Danso's winner of a header brought back memories of Leonardo's goal that gave the Galaxy a 1-0 win as well back on April 2nd.
And just like that game in Los Angeles, the Union once again failed to produce much on offense away from home. Various injuries and suspensions forced Union coach Peter Nowak to make several changes to the lineup, and the absences of Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey, and Keon Daniel seemed to impact the team's ability to generate chances. More after the jump.
Nowak shuffled the lineup due to all of the injuries and suspensions. Gabriel Farfan started at left back while his brother Michael played at right back. Sheanon Williams slid over to join Carlos Valdes in central defense. Justin Mapp replaced Daniel at left midfielder.
The first half was mostly even as both teams tried to get on the scoreboard early. Danso missed an early opportunity to score on a header off of a 26th minute Timbers corner kick.
The best chances for either team in the opening half came late. Sebastien Le Toux missed a golden chance to put the Union up in the 38th minute as he weakly shot the ball at goal, despite other players being open in better positions in the box. Eric Brunner just barely fired a header above the crossbar seconds before the halftime whistle.
The two teams continued to go back and forth in the second half before the Timbers earned a free kick in the 70th minute. Jewsbury delivered an enticing ball to Danso, who snapped the header past Mondragon for the goal. It was the Timbers' seventh set piece goal this year, good for first in all of Major League Soccer.
Philadelphia attempted to press the issue late on, making three offensive substitutions. Kyle Nakazawa came on for Gabriel Farfan, Roger Torres entered the game for Justin Mapp, and Jack McInerney came on for Amobi Okugo.
The three subs worked together to spark some life in the Union offense, but it was too little, too late. One huge chance came in the final minutes as Le Toux received the ball off a deflection and fired it on goal, but right at goalkeeper Troy Perkins. After three minutes of stoppage time the referee brought proceedings to a close, and the Union lost their second game of the season.
Goalscoring is starting to become a real problem that Nowak and the Union will have to address soon. The team is last in goals scored in all of MLS, but have also only allowed 3 goals in 7 games. They will not be able to continue scoring at this pace if they want to continue to get results.
They remain, for the time being, in second place in the Eastern Conference with 13 points, but could be passed on Saturday by Houston and/or Columbus. New York will have the opportunity to extend their lead to four points with a win over the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Philadelphia will not have to wait long to get the sour taste out of their mouths as they return to action on Wednesday night at PPL Park against that same Galaxy team, who are responsible for one of the Union's two losses. Here are the full match highlights from JELD-WEN Field: