By the scoreline, it wasn't the worst loss of the Union's 2015 season. But scoreline doesn't always tell the full story. How did a team that looked in control of the match in the first half see the wheels come off of the match - and possibly the season?
1. If it ain't broke, fix it?
The Union played very well during the first half, controlling possession fairly well and getting some good chances at goal. New England wasn't exactly on their heels, but the Union were making a game of it. Jay Heaps made some adjustments at the half, and New England pressed the Union hard in their defensive zone to create turnovers. The Union didn't make any discernible adjustments, and paid dearly for it.
2. New England presses, the Union cracks
As if on cue, Vincent Nogueira telegraphed a lateral pass to Ray Gaddis, allowing Jermaine Jones to get a good break on the ball. Gaddis got the ball with Jones rushing in fast and panicked just a bit, spraying the ball out of bounds. Chris Tierney alertly ran upfield, and threw the ball in to Charlie Davies, who drew Gaddis as well as Steven Vitoria. Davies flicked the ball on to Nguyen in full sprint, who ran at Richie Marquez. Marquez gave Nguyen too much space as he ran across the front of the goal mouth, and Fabinho (who had been shutting down the lane to Kelyn Rowe on the right) couldn't get back in time. Nguyen cut the ball back, and Andre Blake had no choice but to watch the ball roll into the net to give New England all that they needed.
3. Out of answers
The Union couldn't muster an equalizer, and the subs didn't perform. In all fairness it was too little too late in the case of Fernando Aristeguieta, who was brought on in the 73rd minute. Aristeguieta was serviceable, getting three shots in his seventeen minutes, however for a guy who is making DP money and was supposed to be the team's big off-season signing, that's not good enough. If Aristeguieta is going to stay in Philadelphia, he needs to be able to produce when called upon. Sure it's gotta be hard sitting on the bench while CJ Sapong gets the starts, but Sapong has been the hot hand recently and Jim Curtin and staff have had no reason to switch him out for El Colorado.
4. Full of spit
Let me start by saying I think the world of Cristian Maidana. I think if Chaco was on any other team he'd be getting accolades and press along the lines of a Sebastian Giovinco or Bradley Wright-Phillips. He has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the Union. All that being said, it's inexcusable that he spit at or on Lee Nguyen. Even if it was chewing gum, and even if he wasn't aiming at him (it's hard to judge intent from a video), he still can't even give the appearance that he's spitting in someone's direction. This is certainly out of character for Maidana, and I believe his apologies on twitter to be sincere.
Aclaro que no tuve la intención de escupir a mi colega, tengo esta mala costumbre en los partidos pero nunca lo haría directo a un rival— Cristian Maidana (@chacomaidana10) August 30, 2015
No soy un jugador agresivo ni sucio, se puede observar mi historial, nunca he tenido un problema igual. Me disculpo ante los fans.— Cristian Maidana (@chacomaidana10) August 30, 2015
It's all in the Disciplinary Committee's hands now, but if Taylor Twellman had his way Maidana would be out for ten games. It wouldn't be shocking to see that happen, given the MLS has given harsh penalties out before. Regardless, that could have been the pivotal moment in the Union's season that ensures the Union miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season.