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Rate the U: Union doomed by early goal and red card

2-0 loss to NYCFC was second straight in league play

MLS: New York City FC at Philadelphia Union Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

With Tuesday night’s second leg quarterfinal of the Concacaf Champions League on tap, Saturday night was always going to be a challenge for a Philadelphia Union squad fighting on two fronts.

Then Jose Martinez made that challenge even harder when he was sent off in the 16th minute with an elbow to the head of Taty Castellanos. Already down a goal, hopes of getting three points were pretty much out but the bend but not break Union defense did hold the one-goal deficit in place for almost 50 minutes.

A rare mix-up in the back between Jakob Glesnes and Andre Blake put the game all but out of reach in the 65th minute when Castellanos pounced and made it 2-0 to the visitors.

Four minutes before the goal, a trio of regular starters — Leon Flach, Kacper Przybylko and Kai Wagner — did provide some freshness to the Union side but the toll of so many early season games was evident as the boys in blue failed to register a shot on goal and sputtered to their second straight home defeat in league play.

Evaluating performances in a game that is turned upside down with an early red card is always tough, but if there are positives to take away from the game it’s that the Union only conceded once playing with 10 men for 74 minutes. The bigger picture from that though is that a team that has had little trouble scoring in Champions League and hasn’t conceded (8-0 through three games) has been outscored 4-1 in three league matches.

It’s not a localized problem, of course, as evidenced by the league results of other MLS teams in Champions League but it doesn’t make it any easier to stomach seeing a rival — especially this particular rival — come into your building and win 2-0.

Maybe the Union deserves the benefit of the doubt and their performances to be graded on a curve — it’s no time to panic, that’s for sure — but we’ll leave you to decide in our Community Player Ratings poll for the NYCFC loss.