The Philadelphia Union are taking home a point after drawing Toronto FC 1-1 in a very entertaining match at BMO Field.
Union Starting XI: Blake; Fabinho, Marquez, Tribbett, Rosenberry; Carroll, Creavalle; Pontius,Bedoya, Herbers; Sapong
Toronto FC Starting XI: Irwin; Beitashour, Hagglund, Moor, Morrow; Bradley, Johnson, Cheyrou, Osorio; Altidore, Hamilton
Union manager Jim Curtin was forced to make a couple of changes to his typical lineup due to the unavailability of Tranquillo Barnetta and Joshua Yaro. Barnetta stayed home after experiencing knee swelling due to collision with the Portland Timbers’ Fanando Adi, and Yaro was suspended after receiving a couple of yellow cards the previous week. Curtin decided to move Alejandro Bedoya from his usual 8 position to the 10 spot to replace Barnetta. Warren Creavalle returned to the starting XI pairing with Brian Carroll in the defensive midfield. Ken Tribbett replaced Yaro at centerback. This gave Tribbett a shot at redemption after his terrible performance last time the Union played TFC at Talen Energy Stadium on August 20. Tribbett ended up being subbed out at halftime in that match.
Toronto FC decided sit their star striker Sebastian Giovinco so he could finish his recovery from the muscle strains that have kept him out of the lineup since the last week of August. Giovinco isn’t TFC’s only weapon as they still had Jozy Altidore on top who has been in a great run of form as of late, scoring 3 goals in their last 2 games. TFC saw the return of starting GK Clint Irwin, who had been out since June 25 with a quadriceps strain.
Both teams came into the match in good position in the standings. TFC was in second place, just behind Eastern Conference leaders NYC FC by one point and one win away from clinching a playoff spot. The Union were in fourth place, above the red line and in control of their own destiny.
The first 30 minutes of the game was all Union, with the boys in blue getting multiple chances. The domination of the run in play culminated in a beautiful goal by Bedoya. Fabian Herbers found Bedoya at the top of the box. Bedoya beat Drew Moor for a clear look at goal, and Bedoya took advantage with a beautifully chipped ball that went over the reach of a leaping Irwin. Toronto looked a little bit better in the rest of half, but never managed to get any shots off. Toronto was lucky to go into halftime only trailing by 1, after Irwin came up with a great foot save off a Herbers shot in the 45th minute.
The second half saw Toronto seize the momentum of play from the Union, getting looks at goal that they weren’t seeing in the first 45 minutes. Toronto finally got one in when Justin Morrow scored in the 70th minute. Jonathan Osorio was running up the left side and beat Carroll. Running into the box, Keegan Rosenberry missed a chance to take the ball away, and Osorio slid the ball to Morrow, who shot it across the mouth of the goal into the far side of the net.
The Union spent the rest of the match trying to run out the clock, but Toronto kept the pressure on. Altidore came close to winning the game for the Reds, when his shot from within the box hit the post in the 87th minute. The game ended with a little bit of drama as Altidore’s and CJ Sapong’s legs got tangled up with each falling in the TFC box, which looked in real-time as if it might have been a penalty call. Replays showed that referee Ismail Elfath got the call right as Altidore’s leg got in front of Sapong’s to take him down.
Final thoughts on the match:
- Bedoya did a great job in the number 10 role, though his effectiveness was reduced after he was injured on a Morrow takedown which was inexplicably not called a foul by Elfath.
- Tribbett was adequate in his rematch against TFC, though he didn’t have Giovinco to deal with this time.
- Despite being the goat on Morrow’s goal, Rosenberry played well after enduring his worst performance of the year last week.
- Creavalle did well taking over Bedoya’s usual number 8 spot.
- Carroll had an up-and-down game on the defensive side. He also had an blew a great chance for the Union’s second goal in the in the 49th minute where he had and decided to pass it to Sapong instead of taking the shot. Sapong couldn’t catch up to the pass.
- Sapong had yet another game where he struggled to position himself to get chances. After a torrid start the season, he has been ineffective the past couple of months. Striker should be a position Earnie Stewart targets during the off-season.
The Union will be happy to take home a road point against TFC, a team which is arguably the best in the Eastern Conference. The draw has the Union well set up to earn a home playoff match. The boys in blue will finish their 3-game road stretch next Saturday when they travel up the NJ Turnpike to North Jersey and take on the New York Red Bulls.