Eastern Conference "a jumbled mess" with Union right in the thick of it all
The Eastern Conference is a jumbled mess and Philadelphia's 2-1 loss to Chicago doesn't help the situation.
The Union entered Saturday night's match with a prime opportunity to slow down the Fire and simultaneously create some separation in the table.
Instead, the home side dropped the points and Chicago moved firmly into the playoff picture.
"I think this was a huge missed opportunity," manager John Hackworth said in his post game press conference. "We knew Chicago was going to come in and give us a really good game. They've been a really good team the last two months, so it was never going to be easy. But to go down a goal, and get one back, we felt like we had our foot on the gas a little bit. We had opportunity after opportunity, then to give one up like that was really unfortunate."
New York's gritty win in Kansas City sent the Red Bulls to the top of the conference table with 38 points.
Stuck on 35 points, Montreal saw shock defeat against D.C. United. At the same time, Houston crushed Columbus to close the gap on the fourth place Union. However, the Union did receive some help as New England (30 points) also clamoring for a playoff spot suffered a 1-0 loss to Toronto FC on Sunday.
As it stands, the top seven teams in the Eastern Conference are now separated by just ten points.
"That's what we talked about in the pregame speech," said forward Antoine Hoppenot. "We wanted to create separation, especially with Chicago who have been good lately. For them to come here and take three points away from us is bad. We've got to look forward and get three points against D.C."
This is the point in the season where every game is considered a "six-pointer" in the standings.
You win, and you get the three points. But you also deny three points to a conference rival, which essentially results in a two-way, six point swing.
As it stands, 10 of the eleven remaining Union games will be played against Eastern Conference teams.
"We were hoping to kind of go on a little three game win streak," Union forward Jack McInerney told reporters. "It was a good opportunity, but I think we just have to put this game behind us. We've been pretty inconsistent this year (with our wins). You know, no one expected to us to win in Vancouver and we would have expected to win today, so I think we just have to put it behind us and come out hard against D.C.
Keeping things in perspective, the Union have responded well after losses this season.
"This was a big opportunity, we didn't step up like we needed to," Amobi Okugo explained. "Luckily for us we've always bounced back from losses. I don't think we've lost two games in a row this season. I don't want to jinx it, but hopefully we can come back next weekend against D.C. I know they've got some momentum after beating Montreal. Hopefully we can get that win."
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org