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Poor finishing, defensive mistakes doom Union in home loss to TFC

A feckless attack and two huge defensive errors resulted in the Union’s second loss at Talen Energy Stadium this season.

Morgan Tencza

Following a controversial 3-1 defeat to Atlanta United FC in their last MLS game, the Union took on Toronto FC on Friday night with the hopes of making up ground in the Eastern Conference standings. What they got instead was a flattening 2-0 loss to a TFC side that’s off to an even worse start than them.

Two goals from Jonathan Osorio sunk the Union, who played a good game but were undone by glaring errors on both ends.

Changes from their encounter with Atlanta United FC were inevitable as Haris Medunjanin and Alejandro Bedoya were forced to serve their suspensions following their red cards last Saturday night. Warren Creavalle and Ilsinho slotted into the team in their place, with Borek Dočkal dropping deeper into more of a No. 8 role as a result. Keegan Rosenberry also came back into the lineup, pushing Ray Gaddis to the left side of defense.

Fafa Picault had the first massive chance of the night came with a breakaway in the 13th minute. The winger picked up an excellent pass from Warren Creavalle and got in 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper Alex Bono, but the Penn State alumnus denied him. Picault made a great run and found himself in plenty of space, but the finishing had to be there, and it wasn’t.

Just seconds later, Ilsinho had a crack at goal, but his shot went far right. Two amazing chances came to nothing because poor finishing. It should have been 1-0 at the very least only a third of the way through the first half.

The first yellow of the game came in the 16th minute for Warren Creavalle, who went in high on Jason Hernandez. While lack of discipline continues to be a problem for the Union, the fire is there.

Toronto grabbed goal in the 19th minute off the foot of Jonathan Osorio, his third of the season. A nice pass from Victor Vazquez led Osorio past the onlooking Mark McKenzie and Keegan Rosenberry and through on goal. The two chances earlier in the game came back to bite the Union, who now trailed 1-0.

A goal for the Union in the 21st minute was waved off when Warren Creavalle was called offside. The defensive midfielder redirected Ilsinho’s goal-bound effort, but did so from a blatantly offside position. The overriding pressure from the Union was impressive, but the lack of awareness and execution foiled any true chance of a lead.

Auro squandered a massive opportunity in the 28th minute, smashing his shot wide left. Toronto FC did not play a perfect game, and blunders like this one suggest that the scoreline could have been worse.

Pressure continued throughout the half from the Union with multiple crosses and corners coming at Toronto FC, but to no avail. The continued pressure from the Union had to have hinted a goal was coming, right?

Well, the best chance from this pressure came at the end of the half, when a cross from Fafa Picault nearly found its way in via an errant touch from Toronto’s Gregory van der Wiel. Unfortunately, it rolled just wide of the post. The ensuing corner led to a good chance for Keegan Rosenberry, but his header was off the mark.

It was truly unlucky for the Union that the only goal in the first half came from Toronto’s one shot on goal, but that is no excuse for the lack of precision. With a total of eight shots and three on target, the Union have to be far more consistent with their finishing. The pressure, passing and playmaking are all there. They have played well in almost every aspect besides finishing.

Gaddis stopped an amazing chance for Toronto off of a counter early on in the 2nd, and this led to an amazing dive from Giovinco who would continue to sell it for minutes after the no-call. It was truly one of the highlights of the night in terms of comedy.

Fafa came close to scoring one of the team’s goals of the season in the 57th minute, when he rocketed a shot from outside the box that ricocheted off the crossbar.

In the 61st, Sapong came off for Cory Burke. In the 69th, Epps came off for Derrick Jones. Not much came from either tonight, particularly Sapong, offensively. Good substitutions from Curtin.

The pressure began to wane in the 2nd, and it seemed that the energy had begun to fade away from the Union, demonstrating how vital it is to capitalize on the chances created early in the game.

Toronto’s second came in the 79th, again from Osorio, his 2nd of the game and 4th of the season. An absolutely atrocious throw-in from Rosenberry handed Giovinco the ball, who settled it and slid it to Osorio. The Canadian buried his shot on goal to extend TFC’s lead.

A great steal from Accam, who came on for Ilsinho in the 74th, led to a great chance in second-half stoppage time, but his shot was directed right at Bono. Another dreadful effort.

As the game winded down, the energy from the first half was officially gone. It was so quiet in the stadium, I could hear some of the players yelling on the pitch. The most exciting thing in the final 10 came when the announcer’s mic flaked and pierced everyone’s eardrums. All of the pressure, the excitement, all for nothing. Poor finishing cost the Union a real chance at three points as Toronto did not play their best game, yet they still won 2-0.

Coach Curtin would go on to emphasize the effort from the guys, but stated, “We had chances. We just didn’t finish.”

It certainly was not all negatives from the loss as Warren Creavalle would go onto say in his post-game interview, “We had a lot of positives, but we ended up on the wrong side of the scoresheet.”

The passing, effort, and chances were there. This young Union team just have to capitalize on their hard work, and success will come.

The Union face the New York Red Bulls next Saturday, 6/16, in the Round of 16 in the U.S. Open Cup.