Philadelphia Union struggle to get a good result out west. They lost 3-0 to Portland as the Timber’s unbeaten streak moves to 15 games.
The starting XI for Jim Curtin’s Philadelphia Union pretty much told the story Saturday night against the Portland Timbers. All together, Curtin turned to a slew of irregular starters for the late night matchup. Fabinho, Jack Elliot, Derrick Jones, Warren Creavalle, and Fabian Herbers all earned a start.
In other words, Philadelphia didn’t really care about this matchup because of their U.S. Open Cup semi-final matchup Wednesday against Chicago Fire. They voluntarily gave up a chance at earning a result. Yet the conversation will continue to be “this is normal.”
Throughout the first ten minutes of the match, Philadelphia handled themselves more than adequately by creating pressure on Portland. The sporadic pressure Philadelphia generated proved worthy as Derrick Jones managed to push a headed attempt just wide before the 10 minute mark.
The first half overall seemed to be a chess match of sorts. Portland so far this season has thrived pushing their play through the center of the pitch. On the other hand, Philadelphia requires width in their attack. So a seesaw battle ensued.
C.J. Sapong displayed a very active presence at forward. His agility allowed him to navigate into dangerous areas consistently. During the 23rd minute, Sapong and Fabian Herbers combined neatly at the top of the goal box. Sapong gained entry and cut back for a left-footed shot but he didn’t have enough power behind it to beat Jeff Attinella.
As halftime neared, Portland started to gain the upper hand. They continually cut through central channels to create space. Philadelphia nearly allowed a goal in the 44th minute thanks to Portland’s offensive play.
Sam Armeteros and Diego Valeri managed some slick combination play to beat four Union players. Armeteros chipped a ground pass onto the feet of Valeri who skillfully released a shot which Andre Blake batted away.
The starting XI Curtin choose to play quickly showed their weaknesses to start the second half. Sure, they played well enough to keep things at bay for the first 45 minutes. However, without players like Alejandro Bedoya or Haris Medunjanin on the field, the team can’t compete for longer than 60 minutes.
Before Portland dropped three unanswered goals, Philadelphia did create one promising chance for a goal just after the 50th minute mark. Marcus Epps found himself with enough space to whip a cross in from the left-wing. Jones, who entered the box on a late-run, was all alone and settled the cross before ripping a right-footed shot. Jones unfortunately was robbed by Attinella. It’s an opportunity that Jones will surely want back as it could’ve been an impact moment for his current roster standing.
The 56th minute changed everything.
Warren Creavalle forced an intended pass forward to Borek Dockal. Creavalle over hit the pass and Portland jumped on the loose ball. David Guzman collected the ball near midfield before finding Valeri on his right. Valeri turned quickly and released a pass for Alvas Powell who was sprinting forward. Powell gained a step on Fabinho as he entered the box which forced Fabinho to grab Powell to the ground. A penalty kick was awarded, Valeri stepped up, and hit it home for Portland’s first goal.
Fabinho was targeted by Portland all match. It was only a matter of time before that strategy paid off.
Curtin brought on Fafa Picault for Epps in the 58th and later, Bedoya on for Jones in the 66th. However, Philadelphia failed to generate chances as time ticked by.
A succession of corner kicks almost provided Philadelphia with an equalizer, but a timely finish was missing.
As the clock moved closer to 90, the match opened up. Philadelphia pressed in search of an equalizing goal and a crucial road result. But their attacking efforts left their back line worse for wear.
During the 84th minute, Valeri drew a penalty kick after falling to the ground after minor contact with Auston Trusty. Valeri, a veteran offensive player, maneuvered himself in a position that left Trusty with little room to navigate. Therefore, contact was inevitable and once felt, Valeri sold it. Dairon Asprilla took the penalty and slipped it past Blake.
Portland scored once more in the 87′ minute, making an already bad taste in Union fans’ mouths even worse. David Guzman scored his first goal of the year after pushing off the back of Bedoya for a headed score. Guzman freed himself from Bedoya in order to garner enough power on his headed attempt. Once Bedoya saw the ball cross the line, he approached head referee, Alan Kelly, but Kelly wasn’t interested in his pleadings.
Portland finished off the 3-0 victory with little struggles. With the result, they extended their unbeaten streak to 15 games.
– Starting XI: Well, the writing was on the wall for this match. When the XI was released Curtin sent a loud message to the fan base: he wants the cup. Even if his fans don’t care all that much about it.
– Jack Elliot: For much of his 90+ minutes of action, the Englishman performed at high levels. He was very active along the back line and continually ruined Portland’s attempts to create chances with vital clearances. Although Elliot didn’t have many opportunities to utilize his distribution skills, his defensive position was remarkable tonight.
– Derrick Jones: Jones only had 30 minutes of league play under his belt before his start tonight. He last started July of last season, and many fans have been begging for him to earn more minutes. Tonight, they got their wish. Jones almost delighted as well, being robbed of a goal early in the second half. His night ended early after Portland opened their scoring.
PHILADELPHIA UNION STARTING XI:
Andre Blake, Fabinho, Auston Trusty, Jack Elliot, Keegan Rosenberry, Derrick Jones (66′ Alejandro Bedoya), Warren Creavalle, Borek Dockal (74′ Haris Medunjanin), Marcus Epps (58′ Fafa Picault), C.J. Sapong, Fabian Herbers
Substitutes: John McCarthy, Ray Gaddis, Richie Marquez, David Accam
PORTLAND TIMBERS STARTING XI:
Jeff Attinella, Larrys Mabiala, Lawrence Quinn, Julio Cascante, Alvas Powell, David Guzman, Zarek Valentin, Diego Chara, Andy Polo, Diego Valeri, Samuel Armenteros (75′ Dairon Asprilla)
Substitutes: Jake Gleeson, Bill Poni Tuilomia, Andres Flores, Tomas Conechny, Vytautas Andriuskevicius
GOALS / ASSISTS
58′ POR – Diego Valeri (PK)
84′ POR – Dairon Asprilla (PK)
87′ POR – David Guzman (Diego Valeri)
YELLOW / RED SUMMARY
90′ PHI – Alejandro Bedoya (Unsporting Behavior)