The Philadelphia Union began their road trip to Florida with a match against Orlando City SC on Thursday night, as the Eastern Conference challengers looked to push themselves into a firm second place and three points closer to New England.
Orlando was able to open up the scoring early on, as Benji Michel received a strong pass from Mauricio Pereyra as Michel waltzed past Jose Martinez and Olivier Mbaizo, and put a solid shot past Matt Freese.
After Michel’s goal, Philadelphia seemed to be out of pace with the flow of the game. Just afterward, Orlando received their second great opportunity of the night as Pereya placed a shot just outside of the left goalpost. While the Union’s defense managed to hold steadier after that, it took significantly more time for the attack to improve. It wasn’t until around 25’ that the Union began to string good passes together in the attacking third, but by the end of the second half, Philadelphia almost looked to have taken over some amount of control of the match, holding a lot of attacking possession to round out the first forty-five.
Coming out of the locker rooms, the Union started off the second half much stronger than they started the first. Daniel Gazdag put forward two good shots, both of which, while off-target, were certainly threatening.
However, at 60’ Orlando was able to capitalize yet again. Some lazier defending by Kai Wagner left Nani wide open in his attacking right corner. One cross into the box and a header from Andres Perea later, and Orlando found themselves up 2-0 and that much closer to three home points.
City’s lead was cut down quickly, after a pass from Mbaizo found the feet of Kacper Przybylko, who sent a fast shot on the ground into the right corner of Orlando’s net, giving the Union a surprising and silent goal to put them back in the match.
The Union would get two more good chances Thursday night, both coming off the foot of Quinn Sullivan, as the youngster put two fiery shots on net, only to see them stopped by Pedro Gallese.
With one last chance (after a long stoppage for a very broken nose), the Union looked to find their game-winner. As Jack Elliott dodged defenders in the box and took the shot, Gallese made the first save. As Jack McGlynn sent the ball across the goal line, Sullivan’s powerful shot smacked Kyle Smith in the face, and with that, the Union’s chance for a tie was over.
With the loss, the Union fell down to third place in the Eastern Conference as Orlando jumped to second. The Union will have a few days off before a sojourn into Miami to face off against last place Inter Miami FC.