Philadelphia Union: Union Heartbroken by late 1-0 defeat in Houston

The Philadelphia Union fell to their second consecutive MLS defeat on Saturday as Cristian Maidana’s 95th-minute free-kick gave the Houston Dynamo a 1-0 win at home.

The Union, coming off their 2-1 victory in the U.S. Open Cup last Wednesday over the New York Red Bulls started Chris Pontius up front with Sebastian Le Toux out with a concussion.

Roland Alberg, Ilsinho, and Tranquillo Barnetta highlighted the midfield, while Richie Marquez and Joshua Yaro were the centerback pairing on Saturday.

Even with a changed attack, Jim Curtin still had Jamaican international Andre Blake in-goal, who definitely is making the case as one of MLS’ best goalkeepers. 

Blake was tested throughout the first half, making three saves on Dynamo attacks. He saved Will Bruin‘s header eleven minutes in before stopping Giles Barnes‘ header in the 21st minute. Bruin’s header was saved again in the 29th minute as the Dynamo continued to pressure off corners and crosses.

The Dynamo pressure continued in the second half as David Horst had his attempt repelled at 48 minutes. Curtin brought on C.J. Sapong and Leo Fernandez in the 63rd minute to freshen up the team. Sapong had been missing in the side since early June after he was dealing with an ankle injury since June 1st.

Cristian Maidana and Boniek Garcia were the latest to have their chances pushed aside by Blake as the second half rolled on. Sapong had a good chance to give the Union the lead in the 81st minute but his shot was saved by Dynamo keeper Tyler Deric.

Joshua Yaro was sent off in the 87th minute after picking up his second yellow card on the evening, which forced the Union to defend with ten men for the final minutes.

However, Maidana would have the last laugh against his former team as he soared a 95th-minute left-footed free kick into the top left corner that won the match for Houston 1-0.

It was heartbreak for the Union, after Andre Blake had made seven saves which kept the scoreline reasonable. Besides their 49% of possession, the Union only mustered two chances on goal the entire match.

The victory snapped a five-game unbeaten streak for Houston, as they earned their first victory under new manager Wade Barrett. The Union now sit with a record of 7-5-6 and could be kicked from the top spot in the Eastern Conference on Sunday pending New York City F.C.‘s result.

As we get to the midway point of the 2016 season, questions will definitely come up about player transactions, such as a backup striker or additional midfielders. With Sapong not at 100% just yet, the Union should consider another forward for the long-haul of the season. Up next, the Union host D.C. United at Talen Energy Stadium on July 9th, looking to get back on their winning ways in MLS.