Philadelphia Union fall to Orlando City 2-1

The final game before the March international break of Philadelphia Union’s 2017 MLS season wasn’t the greatest result for the Union as they lost 2-1 to Orlando City.

With goals from Cyle Larin and C.J.  Sapong, the game had multiple goals but proved to be a rather unsuccessful night for the visiting side. The Philadelphia Union failed to get a point for the first time in the young campaign. The team also missed out on their first ever success at getting points in each of a season’s first three matches.

The first half wasn’t great for the Philadelphia Union as the home side managed to control the ball for much of the first 45 minutes. Unlike their first game of the season the Lions managed to keep the ball for much of the game, and when the Union got ahold of it, it wasn’t long before they got it back. Perhaps the biggest event of the first half hour of the game was Andre Blake getting injured for the second game in a row but ultimately, he continued on.

The Philadelphia Union surely deserved not to let in any goals for much of the first half as although Orlando controlled the play neither side had much of any attempt in the opposition’s half. Eventually, Cyle Larin found the net as Keegan Rosenberry and Oguchi Onyewu were beaten by a lobbed ball from Johnathan Spector to Carlos Rivas. Rivas then found Larin at the far post who poked it in. Some angles show the pass at slightly offside, but regardless Orlando scored, and all four of the defenders should have done better to stop the goal.

The Union came out in the second half looking more likely to score as they seemed to control the first few minutes of the second half. They shepherded the ball away from the home side,\ and could get a much better feel for the game early on. Eventually, Haris Medunjanin put a ball in the way of Keegan Rosenberry who beat a defender and got it forward to Fabian Herbers. Herbers put in a nice cross that was just outside of the reach of a near post rushing Alejandro Bedoya, but Bedoya did just enough to draw a defender to him giving C.J. Sapong enough room to head the ball into the Orlando net.

For the final 30 minutes of the game the teams seemed as likely to score as each other with no real chances on goal, but a bunch of attacks and counter attacks. Eventually, with a quarter hour left in the game, the Philadelphia Union defense was beaten by a masterful pass as Matias Perez Garcia split three Union defenders and put Cyle Larin in on goal, and Larin slotted the ball calmly passed Andre Blake for his second goal of the game, and third of the season.

The Philadelphia Union were not out of the game though as they pushed towards the end bringing off Derrick Jones, who once again proved mighty in defensive midfield, and Chris Pontius. Fafa Picault and Roland Alberg pushed the team forward, and at the death, they had at least two great chances on goal. Early sub Ilsinho with his first game time of the season almost tied the game up but hit the inside of the post at an angle which pushed the ball wide. Eventually, the Union put in another nice cross that was met by an Alejandro Bedoya header directly into the high raised hands of Joe Bendik. A minute or so later the ref blew the final whistle.

Overall the game wasn’t a great continuation of the early season successes with the away draw at Vancouver in the opener, and the home draw against reigning Eastern Conference Champions Toronto. The team did show a lot of fight characteristic of many Philadelphia fans in fighting back after the half, which is surely due to Jim Curtin’s halftime talk. C.J. Sapong could make it two goals in two games, while Fabian Herbers looks likely to continue last year’s success in the assist department.

That said this game also showed a bunch of what the Philadelphia Union lacks. They don’t have a real attacking midfielder, and Alejandro Bedoya isn’t cutting it. While the national team call-up continues to work hard and push, he was not part of much of the Union’s play and only seemed to pop up in the right place on the goal, and later with his last-minute header on goal. The back four also seems to lack some cohesion which is interesting considering ¾ of it are intact from a season ago. Often the defensive stops were made by the guile of a single player. Finally, the direction of set pieces was severely lacking as no real threats on goal were seen on any of them and honestly for much of the game they seemed to have not been 100 percent worked together.

The second half showed a much more cohesive unit. Derrick Jones continues to be a nice addition to the team from the youth ranks, and wins balls and runs much like you want a defensive midfielder to. Haris Medunjanin has also added a nice passing flair to the team that was seen multiple times in the game, but often his passes are not met, which is surely something the team will work on moving forward. Hopefully with a bit more practice and some time to continue to gel over a two-week international break when the team returns against D.C. United some problems will be mended or on the way to being fixed.