Entering Portland and playing a strong Portland Timbers side, the Philadelphia Union kept the match competitive but unfortunately simply competitive was not enough to overcome the home side. The Union struggled with finishing their chances, and in the end it doomed them to a 2-1 defeat late Saturday afternoon at Providence Park.
The match began sloppily with not much action from both sides, but soon the Union would find themselves with some chances at getting the ball past Portland Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson. First real chance for the Union came about when a Liam Ridgewell pass back to Gleeson went awry, allowing Fabian Herbers to step up and get a shot on that a charging Gleeson parried away while picking up a knock to the face. The next opportunity for the Union came a few minutes later when Tranquillo Barnetta did well to get around Lithuanian defender Vytas Andriuskevicius, even playing the ball in well for Sapong. However Sapong's shot got met with a foot save by Gleeson and though the rebound went to Brian Carroll, he would only fire the ball well over the bar and into the Timbers' Army Supporters Group.
The Portland Timbers got on the board first seconds after the second half began. Alvas Powell played a looping ball into the box that Keegan Rosenberry tried to deflect away. Not getting near enough on it though, the ball rolled to the endline where Darren Mattocks picked it up. The Jamaican international then maneuvered his way past Rosenberry to play the ball in front to Diego Valeri. Valeri buried the ball past Blake to put Portland up 1-0. Mattocks spent most of the evening badly outplaying Rosenberry, and the young Union defender certainly wishes he could have this play back.
It did not take long for the Union to respond, though. Seconds after the Timbers goal, the Union tied it right back up. Herbers made a quick run into the Portland third, leaving the ball near the edge of the box for Chris Pontius. Pontius, whose shots throughout the night were often stopped by Gleeson, made no mistake about this one ripping past the Portland keeper and into the back of the net, tying the game up at 1.
Five minutes following the Pontius equalizer though, Portland got back on the scoreboard. Charging through the Philadelphia third, Mattocks over and over again made a meal out of Rosenberry. After about the 85th juke of Rosenberry on this run alone, Mattocks sent the ball into the box where Fanendo Adi deflected it past a helpless Blake for Portland's 2nd and the game-deciding goal.
The Union continued to pepper Gleeson with chances, but among the Union's 15 total shots and eight shots on target, only one went in and that would not be enough to match Portland's two for the evening. And 84 minutes into the match, it all came unglued as Josh Yaro, already on a yellow card, picked up a second yellow for a reckless foul on Mattocks. The Union wouldn't pick up a real quality chance playing with 10 men, although shouts to Andre Blake for making a potential Save Of The Week candidate in stoppage time, coming out to make a fantastic stretch-out save on Mattocks with no one near the Portland attacker.
Up next for the Union is a critical Eastern Conference tilt against current first place holders Toronto. While Orlando City losing today keep the Union 7 points ahead of 7th place, there is still plenty of room to go up and down in the Eastern Conference and the Union will certainly wanting to be moving up in the standings in the coming month as they prepare for what is likely their first playoff berth since 2011.