Following their 4-0 romping of Vancouver, the Philadelphia Union traveled across the country to face LAFC for the first time ever, hoping to pick up another three points. What they got instead was a Player of the Week performance from striker Adama “Dio” Diomande, who punished a young Union back line with every chance he got. LAFC stormed to a 4-1 victory on the back of Diomande’s hat trick, the first in team history.
The only change in the starting lineup came with Marcus Epps replacing Borek Dočkal, whose second child was born earlier this week.
The Union seemed to look to continue their success from their last outing as they controlled the ball early on in the first 25 minutes of the game. The most notable opportunity came from C.J Sapong in the 11th as a cross came right to his feet at the top of the box; however, the out-of-form striker took a poor first touch, giving goalkeeper Tyler Miller time to hastily clear the ball. The rebound fell straight to Marcus Epps, who sailed his shot over the crossbar.
A common theme throughout this season popped up again tonight as the Union dominated play early on but couldn’t come away with anything to show for it.
Even though the Union dominated play early on, the first goal of the game came for LAFC in the 25th minute as Dio easily beat McKenzie to slot his shot into the bottom left corner.
Soon after the goal for Dio, the Union looked to even the score in the 28th minute as Bedoya headed a corner kick past Miller, but defender Joao Moutinho made a nice headed clearance at the far post. Further pressure came from the Union following the initial chance, but poor passing and finishing led to nothing.
The second goal of the game was once again from Dio as LAFC proved that possession means nothing as long as finishing is up to snuff.
All of the Union’s attacking effort finally came to fruition as the half closed with a goal from Fafa Picault to make it 2-1.
The momentum finally had shifted to the Union at the end of the half from the Fafa goal, but the scoreline did not reflect it as it was still 2-1 to LAFC. The lack of finishing and poor defense put the Union in a slight hole, but there was still much life in the game. With the Union looking dominant, it seemed inevitable that they would get back into the game as the second half started.
It didn’t turn out that way, as Dio completed his hat trick 10 minutes after the break. The goal was Dio’s seventh in 297 minutes for LAFC. He made his debut just over a month ago.
The Union’s dominance faded away in the second as LAFC seemed to control the pace of the game. Furthermore, the chances were no longer there as LAFC buckled down on the defensive end. If the Union could have converted on one or two of those missed opportunities, the second half could have shaped out to be far different from the one we saw tonight.
Sapong came off for Burke in the 73rd as the Union hoped to spark the comeback, but nothing much came from this substitution.
LAFC had a fourth goal waved off in the 78th minute, but later upped their lead one more time in the sixth minute of stoppage time. Latif Blessing tapped home a loose ball after Andre Blake failed to cleanly gather or clear a shot from Lee Nguyen.
Poor finishing and some terrible defense led to the 4-1 loss this evening. The Union were simply not prepared.
The Union welcome Atlanta United FC next Saturday in Chester as they hope to bounce back from this lackluster performance.