Union fall to New York City FC in season series finale

Sometimes soccer can just be a cruel sport.

No the Union weren’t overly dominate Saturday night against New York City FC, but after conceding an equalizer in the 53rd minute, the Union piled on the pressure for the next half hour and seemingly sent in cross after cross through the box, but ultimately to no avail. The final punch to the gut then came in the 87th minute when Patrick Mullins scored what would be the gamewinner.

“After a run of good performances, this was a good game but one where we’re disappointed to leave with no points,” Curtin said. “It’s an empty feeling right now for the guys but I think we pushed the game well and had good moments.”

The night certainly started promising enough. After sustaining pressure for the opening 15 or so minutes, the Union controlled the rest of the first half but were lacking the final ball. Any doubts of a scoreless halftime were quickly erased, though, when C.J. Sapong scored his fourth goal of the year after pouncing on a loose ball from a corner kick.

But from there, while the chances were plentiful for a team that put together 37 crosses on the night, the Union couldn’t find another goal. Two quick strikes on the opposite end, and it was the Union’s eighth loss of the year.

“Whether the timing of our runs was a little off or our service let us down, we were never able to take a real stranglehold of the game,” Curtin said. “I thought even at 1-1 we pushed the game a ton. Pfeffer came in and got a couple of chances, a couple looks, and gave us some great energy. Unfortunate that we weren’t able to preserve the lead and gave up the second goal.”

Chances certainly were there.  Overall the Union had seven on target, but NYCFC goalkeeper Josh Saunders was there to put out the fire for much of the night, recording six saves. Sapong had two of those, and four shots total, but seems to still be getting into a rhythm with his teammates. Still it’s hard to argue the effect he’s had on the team when on the field.

“Yeah, as a forward you always want to score goals, and I’m just confident right now,” Sapong said. “Luck has been on my side as well and my teammates have been putting the ball in the right position for me to capitalize. I will say though, for me, it’s about the impact I’m providing, and if I’m holding the possession up for my team and you know pressuring the right way, in that sense – I’ve been happy with my performance the last couple of games.”

For the Union, they’ll now take a two-week break from MLS play. They’ll have a friendly against PDL affiliate Reading United on Tuesday, then take a week off before hosting Rochester Rhinos in the Fourth Round of the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

The break could come at a good time for the club, who has been particularly busy as of late, including playing three games in their last eight days.

“We’ll get some guys in who haven’t had a lot of minutes,” Curtin said regarding the match against Reading. “We’ll get fully healthy which will be good. Hopefully we’ll catch our breath a little bit. We’ll go to L.A. next and then we’ll have Seattle coming in which ought to be difficult games coming up. But our guys are up to the task and we’ll get a little bit of rest.”

They certainly seem like it. Captain Maurice Edu isn’t too thrilled with the break and said he thinks this team is in good form despite the loss tonight.

“I kind of wish we had more games because we’re enjoying our soccer right now,” Edu said. “We’re playing well and I think it’s important that we try and continue this momentum – taking it to the Cup games and just keep it going from now and hopefully we can continue that when we play against Galaxy.”

Teammate Zach Pfeffer echoed those thoughts.

“I mean right now we’re in a good spot – we have a lot of momentum even though we didn’t get the result tonight,” he said. “You definitely don’t want to have this much time off, but that being said, that’s what the schedule is so we have to use the time wisely, take care of our bodies – we have had three games this week, and have played the most games in the league so far, so it’s probably a much needed rest for everyone. We’re going to use that rest, we’re going to get back together, and look forward to getting some good results.”

What were your thoughts on this match? Leave a comment below.

Contact Union press officer Chris Winkler at cwinkler@philadelphiaunion.com