PBPP: Union need a better start vs. Portland on Saturday

Philadelphia must avoid conceding early to visiting Timbers

For the Philadelphia Union, Saturday’s game vs. the Portland Timbers will end a rough stretch where the team will have had to play three games in eight nights.

Then you have to add in the travel factor to Salt Lake City, plus the energy and effort dispensed in Wednesday’s second half comeback draw vs. New England.

Let’s talk about the Wednesday game. You can take a few things out of that 4-4 draw:

On the positive, three-goal comebacks are rare, and not just in MLS, so full credit to the team for getting a result, albeit just one point instead of an expected three vs. the Revs.

Sebastien Le Toux is looking like the 2010 version, as he’s now picking up some momentum at a time when the team needs him the most. Le Toux has now scored in back-to-back games and has scored five goals in the last four games, including a pair of two-goal games. His goal total now is at a much more respectable six on the season, to go with eight assists.

Goals by Freddy Adu and Roger Torres were significant, for different reasons. Torres — who has three goals and no assists this year despite being much more of a playmaker than goal scorer — gave his team some life with an impressive first half goal. For Adu, a player who is not at 100 percent match fitness in terms of being able to play 90 minutes without any trouble, his goal was good for him and his teammates' confidence, knowing they could come back.

For young Zac MacMath, who had no chance on the four goals, at least he has a point to show for his first start in goal. His teammates surely didn’t help him in terms of their defensive play.

Now on the downside:

Manager Peter Nowak didn’t mince words when he said his team played like an expansion team in the first half. It’s not acceptable to any coaching staff to give up four goals in a game, much less a half, and at home. Philadelphia hadn’t given up more than two goals in any one game this season. 

You could probably see this coming though, as the team had given up two goals in each of the last three games, which is another disturbing trend for a team that lived off its tough defense early in the season.

In the last four games, the team has allowed the first goal. When you do that consistently you are always chasing the game. Instead, Philadelphia need to dictate the game, especially at home where they haven’t won since the Chivas USA game back on June 25.

Philadelphia are overdue for win at home and overdue for a win anywhere. Time is running out and precious points are being lost. Saturday night’s game shouldn’t be an easy one against a Portland team that is very close to a playoff wildcard berth under head coach John Spencer.

After this weekend, the Union have a week away from MLS competition, then it’s another tough one at home vs. the Eastern Conference-leading Columbus Crew.

See you Saturday.

Related:

Scouting Report: Timbers pushing for playoff spot