The Philadelphia Union found themselves one Cristian Maidana free kick away from drawing the Houston Dynamo; any save by Andre Blake or missed shot would have gotten the job done. Unfortunately for the Union though, that's not what happened. Maidana roofed the free kick into the net in the last minute of stoppage time, sealing the Union's 1-0 defeat Saturday night in Houston.
The Philadelphia Union started the match with midfielder Roland Alberg playing as a false nine with Chris Pontius, Tranquillo Barnetta, and Ilsinho as the attacking midfielders. Brian Carroll and Warren Creavalle played in the double pivot with Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Josh Yaro, and Keegan Rosenberry manning the back line.
The game was a mainly sloppy affair played on a slow, muddy pitch that seemed to disintegrate more and more as the night went on, though both teams did have some chances. Andre Blake made a couple of solid first half saves, including one from a 29th minute Alex cross to an unmarked Will Bruin between the Union central defenders, but his ensuing header was stopped by Andre Blake. For the Union's best chance of the first half, Tranquillo Barnetta's corner kick found its way to the head of Chris Pontius, but all he could do was head the ball over the bar.
The Philadelphia Union experienced some good fortune in the 63rd minute when C.J. Sapong entered the match as a substitute returning from ankle injury. He only played 27 minutes tonight, but his return to the pitch signifies what should be a return to the starting line-up next weekend, and given the loss of Vincent Nogueira having a player the quality of Sapong return will only be a good thing.
The Dynamo had a couple more chances as the second half progressed with 2nd half substitute and former Union attacker Cristian Maidana getting off an awkward shot forcing an awkward Blake save that left a rebound, but Boniek García's follow-up went wide. Then in the 80th minute Boniek's shot got deflected over the bar by Blake and the resulting corner would have resulted in a goal had it not been for Fabinho's goalline clearance.
The tides of the game shifted a few minutes later though when Josh Yaro was shown a highly questionable second yellow card when he stuck his hand out in the viscinity of the attacking Mauro Manotas and Manotas fell over quite dramatically. Referee Edvin Jurisevic showed Yaro his second yellow leaving the Union down 10 for the final few minutes of the match, putting them in a situation where they could only fit four people in a wall for a free from just outside the box.
With a minute left in stoppage time, another former Union player Andrew Wenger won a free kick for the Dynamo. Maidana was able to use to his advantage the Union's lack of 5th person in the wall and rocketed a free kick into the top of the net, giving the Dynamo a match-winning goal in the final minute of the game.
The Union are fortunate this week in that they will get a full week off. Their next match is not until next Saturday when they return home to play D.C. United in a pivotal Eastern Conference match.