The Philadelphia Union suffered their first loss in a while on Saturday night, dropping points to Toronto FC on the road. To say the least, it was a tough game to watch, as the Union showed little effort to score and win the game.
On the positive side, it was pretty easy to find three things to write about, so let’s take a dive into the Union’s zero point performance in Connecticut.
Where’s the offense?
Sergio Santos looked to be starting off a potential route of Toronto when he chipped Quentin Westberg in the 5th minute. However, the Union decided to sit back and not push Toronto after going up 1-0 early.
Interestingly, it wasn’t quite like the old Union, who would score and then mentally leave the game. The Union was clearly present, they just didn’t have an investment in controlling the ball and pushing it upfield. While they still had their shots, and they’re shots on goal, they never seemed motivated to widen their lead until the final minutes of the game.
It’s a dangerous game to play against another really good team, and the gamble didn’t pay off. Maybe it was an interesting tactic by Curtin and Co., but whatever it was, it was a point-dropping mistake.
How competitive is the Union?
The Union are still among the best in Major League Soccer, even after that loss. Let’s not forget that. They still have 1.87 PPG, and they’re sitting in fourth place in a very tight Eastern Conference race.
But they haven’t seemed to perform when they play those other three teams in the race. While the Union and Orlando City SC haven’t faced off since the MLS is Back tournament, the Union have lost to both Columbus Crew SC and Toronto, the only two losses of the season since the tournament.
The Union can’t compete against the best right now. While they can progress through the standings against lesser teams, their season may fall to their equals.
Defending the Cross
Both of the goals that Toronto scored against the Union came off of crosses into the box that the Union weren’t able to get a touch on. The first came when Ayo Akinola received a cross from Tony Gallacher and headed it past Andre Blake. The second came when Alejandro Pozuelo, standing alone in the box, received a deflection from a cross from Pablo Piatti, and put in the net with ease.
Pozuelo’s goal cut be a takeaway of its own, but the Union’s lack of ability to stop the cross is worrisome. Philadelphia has always been bad at set pieces, especially on the offensive end. Missing two headers in the box to allow for two goals is something else, something that they’ll be studying before their match on Wednesday.