Philadelphia Union beat on the road by San Jose, and that’s OK

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

After stringing together nine games unbeaten and four consecutive wins, Union traveled out West hoping to extend both of those feats against former Union midfielder Jamiro Monteiro and San Jose Earthquakes.  But Luchi Gonzalez and the Quakes are having a good season of their own, and don’t allow many teams to leave San Jose with points in their pocket, bringing a record of 5 wins, 2 draws, and 0 losses at home into this game.

Union Starting XI

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

We knew a few things going into this game regarding the lineup – Jose Martinez was suspended as a result of yellow card accumulation, Ale Bedoya is still battling an injury, Jack McGlynn just returned from international duty, and Olivier Mbaizo would miss this game due to international duty with Cameroon.  If Union were to roll out the 5-3-2 they’ve used as the foundation of this 9-game unbeaten streak, that left a question mark in the midfield.

Head Coach Jim Curtin chose to go with both starting forwards Julian Carranza and Mikael Uhre up top, with a midfield trio of Daniel Gazdag, Leon Flach and Jesus Bueno, Kai Wagner, and Nate Harriel as wing-backs, with Damion Lowe, Jack Elliott, and Jakob Glesnes as the three center backs and Andre Blake in net

Problems from Union’s past come back to haunt them

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

One thing Union has done a really good job of cleaning up over this nine-game unbeaten streak is eliminating slow starts, but that one couldn’t be applied here. In the 8th minute of the opening half, Union had the Quakes trapped deep in the corner of their own half.  Despite Union having San Jose in a position they like, looking for cues to press and try and force turnovers to create scoring opportunities, Gruezo calmly played the ball over the top to the center of the field to forward Jeremy Ebobisse.  Ebobisse settled the ball with a progressive first touch, shielding himself between Jack Elliott and the ball who was now caught out of position. 

Ebobisse controlled the ball away from Elliott and played a ball that sprung the speedy Cade Cowell down the left side of the field and into the box.  Cowell cut the ball back to wait for reinforcements, double-teamed by Jakob Glesnes and Nate Harriel but was still able to slide the ball back to Jeremey Ebobisse at the top top of the box, who one-timed the pass along the ground and into the corner of the net to the left of Andre Blake to make it 1-0. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful string of passes and a wonderful strike from Ebobisse to finish it off, but you’ve got to chalk this one up to Union not being ready enough to play. 

Union had better chances rest of the first half

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

It didn’t take long for Union to get level, and it came from someone that I think deserves to celebrate his recent performances with a goal.  In the 17th minute, Kai Wagner took a corner with his left foot from San Jose keeper Daniel’s right side, which swung away from the net.  The new mainstay in Union’s starting XI over this nine-game unbeaten streak, Damion Lowe, shrugs off his defender, rises up, and smashed the header home uncontested to level the game 1-1.  Daniel was able to get a hand to the ball, but Lowe the force Damion is able to get on his headers left Daniel with no chance. 

It was great to see Damion score this goal.  Union has done a great job at not only recognizing but integrating and utilizing the aerial dominance Lowe has at winning balls.  They have a few different iterations of plays they run on corners where they specifically look for Lowe as the target, and while I’m not sure if this was by design or not, it still makes me happy to see Damion Lowe rewarded with a goal.  It was concerning to see him go off with an injury shortly after, and we hope he’s OK and recovers quickly. He’s been nothing but dedicated since putting on the Union shirt. 

Union would go on to get a few chances to take the lead from that point on before the half. 
In the 28th minute, McGlynn played a ball toward the top of the box to Carranza who let the ball run underneath his feet and into the box, but the ball was scooped up by a diving Daniel just before being struck by the outreached leg of Mikael Uhre.  And then, right before the halftime whistle, Union had probably their best chance across 90 minutes to take control of the match. 

Nate Harriel carried the ball down the right side of the pitch and played an early cross toward the top of the box, which was one-touched into the penalty area by Daniel Gazdag.  Jesus Bueno sprung onto the ball in the box and cut it back towards the middle to a wide-open Julian Carranza with an open net staring him in the face, but Carranza sailed the shot over the bar and it goes into halftime 1-1.  As good as Julian Carranza has been recent, this was a really huge missed opportunity from the Union forward.

San Jose takes the lead with a wonder strike

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

It’s not like Union was playing badly by any means, and in fact, was forcing San Jose’s Daniel into saves to keep the game level.  But in the 58th minute, a turnover by Carranza deep in his own half led to the ball being played to Miguel Trauco at the top of the box, who one-timed the ball to the upper corner in the side netting to the same side that Ebobisse beat Andre Blake on in the first half.  Again, it’s a really great strike from Trauco, nothing Blake can do about it, but it’s frustrating that it started from a turnover deep in their own half.  It’s preventable. 

Union search for an equalizer

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Union didn’t play badly by any means. They out-possessed San Jose, had more shots, had more big chances, and had better-expected goals totals, but just got beat on two great shots on the end of some defensive lapses.  And on the other hand, Daniel kept San Jose in the lead when it mattered.  In the 60th minute, just after San Jose took the lead, Uhre found himself with the ball on his right foot with a defender rushing to recover.  Uhre hit a good and hard shot toward the net, but Daniel was up to the task and pushed the ball out for a corner. 

In the 73rd minute, Harriel crossed the ball in from Daniel’s left, and Carranza was able to re-direct the ball with his head, but once again Daniel was in position, this time saving the shot with his feet.  The last good Union chance, and maybe Daniel’s most impressive save of the night, came in the 90th minute when Jack McGlynn lined up a shot with his left foot, which was heading toward the upper corner of the goal to Daniels right, but Daniel was able to punch the ball over the net with his left hand, securing the win for San Jose. 

So Union’s unbeaten streak is snapped after 9 games and the win streak after 4, and it comes on the back of two wonder goals, against a San Jose team that’s having their best season in a decade, on the road, missing multiple key players. I get that it’s frustrating to lose, but I don’t think every game Union loses has to be the end of the world. Sometimes you lose, that’s the reality of it. And I think on another night, Union might have won this game.

So I think it’s OK that Union lost this game in the grand scheme of things, they still showed up for this game but just fell a bit short. Now Union has a week and a half from when they played San Jose to recover because of the International Break. I’m hoping the time off will be good for Union to regroup and continue building off this good run of form they’ve had, I don’t think they should consider this as anything other than a pothole in the road of the season.

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