The Union, coming off of a 3-2 home victory against DC United, had a tough task in front of them against the defending MLS Cup Champions and CONCACAF Champions League Finalists, Toronto FC, on Friday night.
It seemed inserting Ilsinho into the starting 11 was the spark that lead the Union to three goals and hoped to keep the momentum going against a Toronto team with no natural center backs available. But Philadelphia once again struggled away from home and could not capitalize on several early chances from Alejandro Bedoya.
As usual with the Union coming off of a win, no changes were made to the starting 11, however Fabinho was made available for selection off the bench and Marcus Epps, who has been playing on loan with Bethlehem Steel FC, got his first minutes of the 2018 season coming on for Bořek Dočkal in the 77th minute. Anthony Fontana and Matthew Real did not make the 18.
Here's our Starting XI vs. @torontofc, presented by @acmemarkets. Kickoff's in an hour on @phl17. #JoinOrDie pic.twitter.com/RizGwf10QG— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) May 4, 2018
The Union started the first half against heavy gusts of wind and Sebastian Giovinco immediately attempted to take advantage in the 7th minute with a huge shot from more than 25 yards out that was pushed over the bar by Andre Blake for a corner.
In the 10th minute, Alejandro Bedoya nearly got the Union on the board with a fine header off of a Haris Medunjanin corner but the shot was blocked by Alex Bono and bounced off the crossbar and out of danger.
Inches away for @AleBedoya17!— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 5, 2018
We're still scoreless. #TORvPHI https://t.co/ednEvQKMt1
The game began to get scrappy in the 17th minute as Victor Vazquez took a hard knock, but the Union attempted to continue moving the play. In the 24th minute, Jack Elliott was cautioned for a foul on Giovinco and four minutes later, Vazquez would get his revenge for the earlier foul, taking in a ball from birthday boy Nicolas Hasler and showing his quality with an excellent finish to get Toronto on the board. The build up toward the goal started with a slip by Ray Gaddis on the left, which prompted Auston Trusty to move out of position leaving a small window open for Vazquez to find the ball and put it in the back of the net.
The battle between Giovinco and Elliott continued in the 31st minute, as the Italian forward was cautioned for a foul on the Englishman with 13 inches on him.
The Union showed they were not completely down and out yet in the 33rd minute, as Alejandro Bedoya took in a wonderful ball from Dočkal in the box and put a shot on target that was ultimately saved by Alex Bono.
Prior to the end of the first half, Ashtone Morgan, the longest tenured Toronto FC player, was cautioned for a foul right outside of the box on CJ Sapong. Haris Medunjanin put in a low free kick that almost fell to Alejandro Bedoya but Alex Bono was positioned perfectly to gobble the ball up safely off a deflection from one of his teammates.
After a disappointing evening, David Accam was subbed out in the 64th minute for Fafa Picault. A minute later, Sebastian Giovinco scored his first MLS goal this season, dancing past Jack Elliott (who was sitting on a yellow) and taking a shot that was tipped by Andre Blake but ultimately found its way in giving Toronto a 2-0 lead.
Marcus Epps and Cory Burke both made appearances late in the game, coming on for Dočkal and Sapong.
In the 89th minute, Jordan Hamilton found fellow homegrown Jay Chapman with a high quality through ball and he put the final nail in the coffin, sealing a 3-0 victory for the hosts.
Jim Curtin spoke after the match about the team’s struggles on the road. Friday night’s road loss was their third straight to start the season (they have yet to score away from home) and fifth straight going back to last season.
“It’s been a struggle on the road, it’s no secret, but anytime the margins are tiny in this league you still need to get your chances, take opportunities on the road because no chances are fewer and farther between,” Curtin said. “We look forward to Columbus and Montreal, 2 places where Eastern Conference opponents, big games, 6-point games, it’s still early but now we have some urgency to put on things. “
With the loss, the Union fall to 2-3-3 (8 points) and travel to Columbus next Wednesday to take on Crew SC at 7:30 p.m. EST.