After looking close to invincible through their first six games, the Philadelphia Union came back to earth a little with a 2-1 loss on the road to Toronto FC.
The big headline of the game was Jayden Nelson going in with a poor challenge on Kai Wagner that fortunately didn’t knock him out of the game or worse. The 19-year-old getting a yellow instead of the straight red he deserved was a glaring error that might have made the game much smoother sailing for the unbeaten visitors. Instead of being up a man for 70 minutes, it was 11v11 the rest of the way and despite the Union getting on the board first with a lovely floated ball from Mikael Uhre to Julian Carranza at the far post the Reds were able to do something no other team had done since 2021: score more than one goal.
The two goals — by Jesús Jiménez and Alejandro Pozuelo — equaled the total conceded by the Union in their first six games.
Union head coach Jim Curtin said post game that they probably deserved a draw in the match — VAR erased the Union’s second goal from Wagner — but the two goals showed cracks in the defense that haven’t been there yet this season. Credit also goes to the two goal-scorers for finishing off what few chances Toronto had in the game. Several defenders and possible Andre Blake as well could’ve done better on the eventual game-winner.
Uhre, meanwhile, was good but not clinical enough to find the back of the net for the first time. His assist was pure class and his hold-up play and movement show how he doesn’t have to score to be a key contributor to the attack. Still, when he does find the back of the net it will be a big lift to an attack that has benefited as much from poor goalkeeper play as it has its own playmaking.
In addition to surviving the Nelson tackle and getting a goal taken away, Wagner had another solid game and is in arguably his best run of form since joining the team in 2019. There were decent moments from several other players on the field but also too many sloppy ones. Overall it proved to be not enough to win what would’ve been a third straight road game to start the season.
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