On a chilly but dry afternoon in Chester, Philly outdoor sports fans could finally concentrate on something other than the #MacHarper madness that had taken over local media the past few weeks, as your Philadelphia Union opened the MLS season against Toronto FC.
Though the Union mostly played well by the stat sheet, and controlled most of the match (the same could not be said for the referee) the Union had defensive lapses at all the wrong times, so the announced crowd of 16,498 were disappointed by the final score of Toronto 3- Union 1.
Toronto Starting XI: 4,3,1,2
GK Alex Bono; Ds Chris Mavinga, Laurent Ciman, Drew Moor, Auoro Alvaro da Cruz Jr., Nick DeLeon, Justin Morrow; MFs Michael Bradley (C), Jonathan Osorio, Marco Delgado; F Jordan Hamilton
Union Starting XI: 4,1,2,1,2
GK Andre Blake; Ds Auston Trusty, Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner, Raymon Gaddis, MFs Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya (C), Ilsinho, Marco Fabián; Fs Cory Burke, Fafa Picault
First Half: We Have Seen This Movie Before
Right off the bat Jim Curtin showed off his newfound flexibility with a 4-1-2-1-2 formation.
The U controlled the match early with a lot of nice runs capped off when their best chances came as Medunjanin feed Picault, who then tried to reach Burke in front, but it was cleared for a corner in the 12′ They had two corners in a row, but could do nothing with them.
They almost broke through here:
but they continued what we have come to expect from the Union over the years, even with new players and a different formation, controlling the game early, but nothing to show for it.
Toronto then started to push a bit more and eventually a penalty was conceded on a hand ball in the box by Wagner.
Blake kept the match scoreless though on the cool #SavesByDre
Unfortunately Toronto would capitalize on one of their few opportunities and the defense left Toronto’s Old Man Michael Bradley all alone, on a shot where Blake had no chance in stoppage time 45′ +3′ That sucked all the air out of Talen Energy Stadium.
As we are not so fond of saying “Typical Union” Control a good part of the match, but fall behind where it counts as the Half Time Whistle found the score Toronto FC 1 Union Nil.
To illustrate the point the U outshot FC 9-5, but only one on target to Toronto’s 3. Philly also led in TOP 54.9% to 45.1. They also had 6 corners to FC’s 0. Have to score with that many chances
Second Half:Second Verse Same As The First
Bradley scores again in 62′. This was not long after he easily could have received his second yellow of the match, but the ref just awarded a free kick in 58′ tackling Fabian nowhere near touching the ball.
The U though would then get one back on the second hand ball of the match. NKOTB Fabian buried his PK 73′
By this point though the referee had just about lost control of the match. He handed out three yellows in the second half and there easily could have been more, and it looked more like a hockey game with continuous fouls being called and a scrum or two after some of them.
Meanwhile the U continued to out shoot and out possess Toronto – overall 17-8 in shots but 5-4 Toronto on target, 61.6% – 38.4 TOP – but another defensive lapse saw Wagner give the ball up just outside the box. DeLeon would then tap one past Blake to ice the match at 3-1 on their second goal scored in stoppage time 90+ 4+
Terrence Boyd for Hamilton 74′
Jay Chapman for DeLeon 90+ 5+
Sergio Santos for Gaddis 68′
David Accam for Ilshino 74′
Few conclusions can be made after the first match of the season so I won’t go there.
That being said, there will be plenty to work on in training this week. Sort of understandably with new players in the midfield and up front, it can take some time to gel as a team, but that is what the pre-season is supposed to be for. They need to get better at finishing chances – where have we heard that one before? – and much better on defense, especially on counter attacks.
I will give a shout out to @sonsofben who packed the River End and were loud and proud throughout the match. I will pass on berating the rest of the “phans” who despite the “announced” attendance saw fit to not show up – the rest of the place was barely half full – on a day that was better than forecast and nowhere near unbearable. I have seen more at April Phillies games in similar conditions.
If come May when they have five home matches, and the team shows improvement before then, and they still do not show up, then I will not be lax in pointing it out.
The U hit the road for a pair of early season tests. First they face last season’s Western Conference leading Sporting Kansas City, for a 3:00 Sunday Matinee on 3/10/19. Then a week later, last year’s MLS Cup winner Atlanta United FC. A result in either of those matches would be a great confidence booster for this young team.