A second half goal by Jamiro Monteiro lifted the Union over Toronto FC in a battle of Eastern Conference contenders after Alejandro Pozuelo cancelled out a first half Toronto own goal. The Union put distance between the teams, rising to 7 points over Toronto (though the Reds still have two games in hand).
Coming off back-to-back home wins against FC Cincinnati and New England Revolution, the Union rode into Toronto with huge confidence but needed to pick up a statement victory, especially on the road. Questions have been asked about whether the team could pick up a victory against an MLS Cup contender and whether they could keep playing at a high level after trading away two depth pieces in David Accam and Derrick Jones.
The Union lineup remained mostly unchanged from the previous match against New England, with the exception of Marco Fabián returning to the starting 11 in place of the injured (but not really injured) Brenden Aaronson.
After 20+ minutes of action, the Union struggled holding onto possession and Toronto, led by Pozuelo, attacked the Union defense hard and often, forcing several Carlos Miguel Coronel saves. After a few close chances from striker Kacper Pryzbylko, the Union finally broke through when left back Kai Wagner drove up the sideline and placed in a low cross toward Fafa Picault that was knocked in off of Toronto defender Chris Mavinga for the opening goal in the contest.
Going into the half, it was clear the Union were willing to give up fouls to stop Toronto from pushing forward, but Fabián seemed to give up the most chances in the worst spots, and played a role in the foul that led to the 51st minute free kick goal by Pozuelo, who chipped the ball over the wall and into the net.
Fabián, who played in his first game in almost a month after he suffered an ankle injury, showed signs of rust, with a few misplaced passes and a much slower pace than the 18-year-old Aaronson. Fabián was subbed off in the 57th minute for Aaronson, who took a knock in the previous match against New England Revolution.
Aaronson’s energy immediately helped the Union move forward, opening up the field for players like Jamiro Monteiro and Haris Medunjanin. In the 68th minute, Monteiro and Pryzbylko charged up the field on the counter, with Monteiro sending Pryzbylko out wide and then receiving a return ball down the middle of the field and slotting home his second MLS goal. Defender Auro was down on the field in the Union half, but the team pressed on despite the injury and finished their chance.
The game was far from over, with several injury stoppages (Laurent Ciman left the game with what appeared to be a serious injury) adding 6 minutes of stoppage time to the end of the match. Jack Elliott continued his excellent season with a series of tackles toward the end of the game that would clinch a 2-1 victory for Philadelphia.
The Union now sit at 23 points through 12 games played (7-3-2) while Toronto FC remain at 16 points through 10 games (5-4-1). The Union returns home on Saturday, May 18 for an inter-conference matchup against the very dangerous Seattle Sounders.