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Game changers: Capped

While the Philadelphia Union’s loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps was disappointing, it did offer some hope going forward.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Philadelphia Union Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

1.) Squad goals - The first of the Philadelphia Union’s goals was as good a team goal as you’ll see.

Started by a poor pass by the Whitecaps, five Union players touch the ball on this one. The ball skills of Tranquillo Barnetta and Ilsinho make this happen, with Barnetta able to split the pressure of Matias Laba and Pedro Morales before passing it over to Ilsinho, whose pullback on Laba would not look out of place on an And1 soccer mixtape (those don’t exist, but you wish they did). The quick one-touch passing between Ilsinho, Roland Alberg, and Tranquillo Barnetta enabled Fabian Herbers to get open. When Herbers got the ball, he let one rip that would have been a candidate for Goal of the Month had it not hit off of the crossbar. The ball then hit off of Sebastien Le Toux right to Alberg, who buried it past David Ousted. The Vancouver Whitecaps were looking for a handball - and rightfully so - but to no avail.

Watch the video again - Alberg never stops running toward goal. Even when Herbers shoots, he’s still moving toward the goal in order to snag any rebound that may come off. This is one of those goals that coaches love - when everything goes to plan because everyone did their job and kept working to make something happen.

2.) Set piece disaster - It wasn’t long before the Vancouver Whitecaps got the equalizer. The Union conceded a corner kick and while it was something that Andre Blake would usually snatch out of mid-air, he just missed it.

Unfortunately for the Union, the usually reliable Richie Marquez didn’t mark ex-Union player Andrew Jacobson, whose header drew Vancouver level.

3.) Man oh Manneh - This one started off innocuously enough - the Union had been moving the ball well all game, however on this one Tim Parker’s step on Tranquillo Barnetta allowed Andrew Jacobson to get the ball up the field for the Whitecaps.

When Kekuta Manneh got the ball, he was in a footrace with Joshua Yaro. Now Yaro is one of the few guys who can keep up with Manneh, however watch Yaro at the 14 second mark of the clip. He thinks about challenging Manneh, and slightly turns his hips. This was the opening Manneh needed to take off past Yaro, and as soon as he got separation, it was over. He was able to cut back inside, then cut again to avoid Richie Marquez and fire off a shot that hit off of the post and in.

4.) Sunk by a sub? - Vancouver’s third goal came shortly after the Union made their last sub, taking off Fabinho for Leo Fernandes. It was a gamble for sure, going with three in the back to try and allow the Union to get numbers forward. Unfortunately for the Union, it backfired.

This is the result of really good passing and ball movement by Vancouver, however it wasn’t helped by the fact that only Brian Carroll and Leo Fernandes tracked back to help defend. That being said, Jim Curtin absolutely made the right decision in my mind to bring on an offensive player for a defensive one that late in the match. There’s really no difference between losing 2-1 or 3-1.

5.) Too little, too late - In stoppage time, the Union were in full jailbreak mode and still trying to get a goal. In the 94th minute, Chris Pontius finally broke through.

It was Leo Fernandes’s header that made the goal, but Pontius got the credit for finishing it off. It was good to see the Union continuing to fight, even while down two with mere seconds left. The loss was disappointing, however the Union lost to a very good Vancouver team and there are plenty of lessons that can be learned.