The Philadelphia Union lost their third game at home this season last Saturday, and the result is one that should not be surprising. Toronto is the best team in MLS. They haven’t been the best all year, but they are the best now, and are going to be the best down the stretch. TFC have the easiest schedule for the remaining season; since they started the season with a long road trip due to stadium renovations. They have six of their last nine games at home. The Canadian team is only one point behind NYCFC for the top spot in the East, and it seems like they’re going to take it. However this was a telling loss for the Philadelphia Union.
The Union came into this game on a high, and needed one to stay with the tremendous Toronto team. The game opened and both teams looked dangerous. The game started to turn Toronto’s way after the thirteenth minute. Giovinco had a free kick from a dangerous position. He put a shot on goal; luckily Andre Blake is the best keeper in MLS and pushed the attempt wide. After that attempt Toronto started to play Giovinco behind the Union defense. They picked on Union rookie Ken Tribbett.
Giovinco made the run behind Tribbett, and a brilliant ball was played into space. Ken was caught between the two, he tried to catch the atomic ant, but could not. The MLS leading scorer slotted a shot to the far post beating Blake. Tribbett proved to have an eventful, and short, night for the Union.
six minutes after being caught in no-mans-land, Tribbett tied the game for Philly. The Union found a free kick in a good spot. Barnetta whipped the ball into the box right into the run of Tribbett. Ken dove to connect with the ball, and his diving header was the equalizer. Not even ten minutes later though, Toronto was back on top.
A free kick from Toronto was sent into the box, and Drew Moor was left open to head the attempt home. There was a miscommunication from the Union defenders. Tribbett and Pontius were both in the area of Moor, but neither followed the TFC player. The Union were down after the first half hour, and the game would get closed out before the half by Toronto.
Tribbett was playing close to US Men’s national team player Jozy Altidore towards the end of the first half. He was trying to prevent a late goal; unfortunately, he could not do so. In the 43rd minute, Jozy picked up the ball on the edge of the box, and trail-blazed Tribbett. He moved into the box and hit a ball past Blake.
3-1 Toronto into the half. TFC then did what they did best played defense. The Union tried to push for goals in the second half but couldn’t find any. The game ended and there is a bad taste in the mouth of many Union followers. So what does this game tell us?
It tells us that Toronto is looking like the legitimate Eastern Conference champion. It also shows that Philly will, most likely, be the third or fourth place team in the East. However, there is still a lot of work for the Union to do to stay in the playoff race.
The Union have nine games left. Seven of those are against eastern conference teams. four of the six Eastern conference teams that the Union face at their home stretch are in the playoff hunt. Philly needs to get decent results against these teams. They need this to happen to: one, stay above the red line; and two, to know that the Union can get decent results against the other Eastern conference playoff teams. As much as it is easy to look that far ahead, the Union need to focus one game at a time, and have their quality players mesh, and play well together.
This coming week is a busy one for the Union. Philly has their last double week this week. They head to Columbus to play Wednesday night, then return to Talen Energy Stadium to play Sporting Kansas City. These two games are huge or the Union’s final resting place atop of the red line.
The Union have already beat Columbus twice this season, and should steaming to get back to the field after their result Saturday. The Organization should also be excited to play against SKC; it will be the first time they have played since Kansas City’s US Open Cup win against the Union last year. Both of these games are crucial, and the Union can get back into the top three in the East with good results. It is time to put the bad result against Toronto behind us, and look forward to two potential wins in one week.
Come back to Philly Sports Network tomorrow for a preview of tomorrow nights match against a failing, but dangerous Columbus team. Until then, peace out!
Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sport