Given the disparity between the news conference three days ago when Jim Curtin’s boss was announcing the extension of his contract for two more seasons and the one after a 4-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on Saturday night, it was probably appropriate that the worst loss of the 2019 Philadelphia Union season took place 2,100 miles away at Rio Tinto Stadium
“First and foremost credit to Salt Lake they outplayed us tonight in all phases,” the Philadelphia Union head coach said Saturday. “It’s one of these games where we got out of our system. We haven’t had a bad, flat performance like that all season.”
The Union came out flat and stumbled their way through the first half lucky to only allow a goal — while simultaneously unlucky to not be up a man after a tackle from behind on Kacper Przybylko — and after the kind of halftime adjustment that has suited Curtin so well this season fell flat on their face in the second half with a pair of shocking defensive miscues.
“Certain moments in the year you have to move on to the next game, and, right now, there are no positives to take away from that one and obviously have to look forward to improving during the week,” Curtin said. “We will obviously watch the film and––actually we might burn the film––move on to next week. And then focus on Chicago.”
The players on the field weren’t the only Union employees struggling on Saturday night. The promised live stream on the Philadelphia Union website for in-market viewers ended up being a headache for a lot of people trying to access the game, which was the first league game this year to have an in-market streaming option in addition to the live broadcast on the Live Well Network.
A handful of Twitter users made the obvious joke about those who weren’t able to get the stream up being better off for it. Credit goes to RSL for turning the tables on the Union with their approach putting them under pressure and forcing them to make mistakes on one end while limiting them inside the red zone on the other.
“I watched a lot of them along with my staff and we were very cautious in how we were approaching this game with how high the lines were, with where we’re going to step pressure up, with the approach when we have the ball,” RSL head coach Mike Petke said. “And I just felt that we hit on it, almost every avenue that we worked on this week and every specific detail that we spoke about.”
Jamiro Monteiro, Ilsinho and Kai Wagner explains some of the Union’s struggles. Ray Gaddis and Fabinho both struggled to provide width going forward and the passing game through the lines was off for much of the night.
“With how narrow they are in the diamond, with how interchangeable they are and to be aware defensively, not to be dragged in certain areas,” Petke continued. “And they followed it. Whether it was that they actually listened to me or they read the play in the moment? I don’t know. But I think we executed it. I think that was because of how we played tonight and on our players where I think it made them look not what you usually would see because they’re a very good team.”
The Union’s place in the standings — now on thin ice because of a five points in five game skid — helped draw Andrew Wooten to the team, but they played like anything but a first place team in his debut and missed an opportunity to separate themselves from second place D.C. United and teams like Atlanta United and New York City FC that have three and five games in hand on them.
“I think that we will regroup from that loss, tough loss, but we will come back stronger and hopefully we can have the three points at home,” Wooten said.
Wooten played 14 minutes, drew a couple fouls and put the ball in the back of the net with his first touch on a goal that was waived off after video review because the ball had gone out for a goal kick. It was the only shot on goal the team registered all night and in the end it didn’t count.
“For me, I’m gonna have to forget this game today because today we lost our minds sometimes on the field,” Fabinho said. “We know our team is good. Our team can change the bad starts and now we’re going to (play) Chicago and at our home we are strong. I think we will have three points.”
The Chicago Fire game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium.