In a game between two teams that were each missing a number of key players, the Philadelphia Union lost to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium by a score of 2-1.
Philadelphia was without star central defender Carlos Valdes due to yellow card accumulation. Real Salt Lake were without defender Nat Borchers, midfielder Will Johnson, and striker Alvaro Saborio out of their starting lineup.
Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman, who sat out a U.S. national team game in order to be with his club, opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a powerful strike from distance. He gave the ball to Paulo Junior on a short corner, who gave it right back to Beckerman. The defensive midfielder then rocketed the ball past Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon.
The Union's deficit was doubled in the 26th minute, once again off a corner kick. Central defender Chris Schuler, who was the replacement for Borchers, got on the end of the cross and headed it past Mondragon to make it 2-0.
Just three minutes later, Justin Mapp delivered a deceptive lofted ball across the defense which made its way to Sebastien Le Toux. The Frenchman took a shot on his first touch and cut the deficit to 2-1 with his first goal from the run of play this year. But the Union had gotten off to such a poor start that they would need another strong display of quality just to salvage a draw.
At the start of the second half, their task was made even more difficult when Mondragon, the team's captain and starting goalkeeper, was subbed out of the game. He reportedly has a broken finger. He was replaced by rookie Zac MacMath.
While MacMath actually played well and kept Salt Lake off the board for the rest of the game, the Union weren't able to find an equalizer. Freddy Adu was brought into the game off the bench, but couldn't create that moment of magic that the team needed.
Salt Lake held out for their 2-1 win, their second straight after going through a rough patch in their season. It was the Union's sixth straight game without a win, and it meant that one of their games in hand over other teams in the East was wasted. Philadelphia can still move into second by winning its last game in hand over Sporting Kansas City, but the Union can no longer reach first in the East without help from the Columbus Crew.
Philadelphia returns to the field this Wednesday at PPL Park when they take on the last-place New England Revolution. It is the make-up game of the originally scheduled August 28 game, which was postponed due to Hurricane Irene.