On a breezy but seasonal early April evening, the Philadelphia Union (0-2-2, 2Pts., Last Place Eastern Conference) hosted the Portland Timbers (3-1-1, 10 Pts, 1st Place Western Conference), in an inter-conference match.
The U were a gracious host tonight extending their winless streak to 14 games – stretching back to 8/27/16 – falling to the Timbers 3-1. Portland is a very good team, but the U, much like last week against DC United, helped on each goal.
Starting XI’s: Each Team in a 4-2-3-1
Union Starting XI:
18 GK Andre Blake, 16 D Richie Marquez, 5 D Oguchi Onyewu, 33 D Fabinho, 12 D Keegan Rosenberry, 6 MF Haris Medunjanin, 21 MF Derrick Jones, 11 MF Alejandro Bedoya, 13 MF Chris Pontius, 25 MF Ilsinho, 17 F CJ Sapong
Portland Starting XI:
90 G Jake Gleeson, 2 D Alvas Powell, 13 D Lawrence Olum, 7 D Roy Miller, 32 D Marco Farfan, 20 MF David Guzmán, 21 MF Diego Chara, 10 MF Sebastian Blanco, 8 MF Diego Valeri (C), 6 MF Darlington Nagbe, 9 F Fanendo Adi
It was back and forth with no real chances for either side despite a Medunjanin FK 17′ on a yellow card right outside the box by Guzman.
A corner in the 26′ changed all that as on an outswinger from Medunjanin, Marquez jumped in between Adi and Olum and got his forehead on the ball, nodding it just inisde the far post. Portland GK Gleeson had no chance.
The Doophoria of the announced 15,437 crowd did not last long as 6′ later Portland tied it up. Nagbe, after a giveaway from Jones and a few lazy team tackles, let loose a blast just inside the box to Blake’s low right side, 32′.
Portland dominated TOP 57.4 – 42.6, though the U out shot them by 1, but overall they played pretty evenly, and the 1-1 tie reflected that.
The second 45′ started much like the 1st with the teams trading runs until the Union made their first subs 65′
That move only seemed to help the Timbers when a minute later on a great FK from Valeri, Miller got his 1st goal of the season 66′. The Union would never recover from this.
The game was iced in 85′ when Blake was forced to take down Mattocks, after Fabinho whiffed on a clearance. Mattocks had a good 30 yds to run unmarked, so Blake felt his best chance would be to block a PK.
He did not, as Adi easily knocked the PK home, to make it 3-1 Timbers 89′
Philadelphia Union Subs:
65′ Fabian Herbers for Derrick Jones, Roland Alberg for Chris Pontius, 78′ Jay Simpson for Ilsinho
Portland Timber Subs:
71′ Darren Mattocks for Sebastián Blanco, 82′ Amobi Okugo for Diego Valeri, 90′ +1′ Jack Barmby for Fanendo Adi
Philadelphia Union Cautions:
Union: 45’+ 3′ Haris Medunjanin Foul, 85′ Andre Blake Foul, 90’+4′ Oguchi Onyewu
Kvetching with the Ref
Portland Timber Cautions:
16′ David Guzmán Foul, 73′ Lawrence Olum Foul, 89′ Fanendo Adi Delaying the restart of play
Keegan Rosenberry started his 39th consecutive MLS regular season match. He never subbed out of a start.
Richie Marquez recovered from his possible concussion against D.C. United, making his his 38th consecutive MLS regular season start.
On opposite ends of the Timbers scoring spectrum, Adi’s was his 46th goal for the club, becoming the Timbers all-time leading goal-scorer, Millers goal was not only his first for Portland, but his 1st MLS goal after seven seasons and 130 games.
Though especially at the start of the game the Union looked like a better coordinated team than in the past few games, as it went on they seemed to backslide a bit, and often took fouls as a lazy way to stop a run, instead of a cleaner defensive play, ending with 12 fouls to Portland’s 8. They still must clean up their act very quickly.
Head Coach Jim Curtin is well aware of this.
In response to at least certain members of the press (the question was almost quashed with a quick “next question”, but Curtin would have none of that) asking about many of the fanbase calling for a coaching change, he had this to say.
“That’s natural. Again, when you lose games, that’s part of it. I don’t hide from that. I’m not a guy who doesn’t understand that there’s pressure in pro sports. Our players recognize that, I recognize that, I feel that. I’m not scared of it, because I still believe in the team and I believe in the group. You can put it on me, that’s fine. I take the blame. People are going to have their opinions and they’re entitled to them. Again, it’s our job to stick together as a team, continue to work hard, and bounce back from this. The only way you get out of it is to win a game. That’s the only way you silence the noise”
I am not ready to call for Curtin’s head just yet because as I said above Portland is a very good team and a W here would have been an upset, but if this type of play continues the rest of the home stand, my “Drinking the Blue and Gold Kool-Aid” column is ready and waiting.
The U continue their 3 game home stand getting back into the Conference schedule as the NYCFC (2-2-1, 7 Pts, 5th Place) come to town on Friday, April 14, a nationally televised game on ESPN.