Through no action of their own, the Philadelphia Union have effectively earned a spot in the playoffs. With a chance to clinch a playoff berth at home, the Union stumbled, falling 2-0 to already-eliminated Orlando City SC. A trashtastic goal that is currently being credited to Carlos Rivas and a stoppage-time tally from Julio Baptista locked up the win for Orlando, their first against the Union since joining MLS last year.
Orlando City took the lead in the 59th minute through a Keegan Rosenberry own goal. After Carlos Rivas stormed down the field and bundled the ball past an outrushing Andre Blake, the young defender intervened. Unfortunately for him, his attempted clearance was less than ideal. The move started when Fabinho failed to control a clearance in the midfield, giving Rivas both the ball and a free run at goal.
With the threat of falling out of the playoffs realer than ever, the Union immediately tried to peg back Orlando.
CJ Sapong had a chance to equalize in the 66th minute, but his flicked header was on trouble for Joe Bendik. Fabinho created the chance once again.
The Union forced another save out of Bendik a minute later. Just as a long run from Fabian Herbers looked to result in nothing, his chipped cross somehow found its way to the head of Chris Pontius. The winger elevated to nod the ball onto goal, but Bendik pushed it away.
Andre Blake kept the Union's hopes alive in the 79th minute, when he extended to deny Matias Perez-Garcia's curler to the far post. Having cut back and sent Richie Marquez the other way, Perez-Garcia looked ready to send one into the side-netting, but Blake stretched to push his shot wide and keep the lead at one.
Blake came up big again just moments later. With a funky cross heading toward net, the 'keeper quickly shuffled over to stop the errant ball from crossing the line along the near post.
Julio Baptista sealed the deal for Orlando late into second-half stoppage time. The substitute got on the end of a deflected through ball from Antonio Nocerino and, with no defenders in his way, ran in and pushed one past Andre Blake.
The first half was nowhere near as eventful as the second, as neither side managed to put a shot on goal.
The Union's best opportunity of the first half came in the 30th minute, when Tranquillo Barnetta teed up Fabian Herbers. The rookie couldn't convert from about 10 yards out, blasting his shot well over the crossbar.
The New York Red Bulls will come to Chester next Sunday for the Union's final regular season game. New York currently sit atop the Eastern Conference and will likely secure that top spot regardless of what happens next week.
- The Union are essentially in the playoffs, but it is now impossible for them to host a knockout round game. They currently sit sixth in the Eastern Conference, meaning that if they finish there, they'll take on the third-place team. Toronto FC currently occupies that spot, but that could change. If TFC wins and New York City FC fails to take three points from New England, NYCFC could drop into that top spot. The Union could also climb into fifth place with a win and a Montreal loss. In that case, they would travel down to Washington to take on D.C. United.
- It's been nearly two months since the Union's last win, as they've gone 0-4-2 in that time. They haven't had a six-game stretch that bad since late-April to mid-May of 2014. Regardless of what they do next week, they'll be the coldest team coming into the playoffs.
- Tranquillo Barnetta's dead-ball delivery was aberrationally bad on Sunday, completing only three of his 11 set pieces, and only directly setting up one shot. His free kicks and corners have been consistently threatening all season, but he failed to generate any legitimate chances from a set piece on a day where the Union were dying for an offensive spark.