CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union played an excellent game against the Eastern Conference-leading Columbus Crew on Wednesday night in a match that really could have gone either way.
The difference, however, was that an experienced and savvy team like the Crew don’t make the silly mistakes one expects from an expansion team like the Union. And in the home side’s 2-1 loss, that was all too evident.
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Admittedly tired of seeing the same thing happen repeatedly, Team Manager Peter Nowak expects his team to get things in order as the second half of the season gets underway.
“We dominate game after game, it’s like a broken record, it’s like Groundhog Day,” said Nowak of the Union’s 2-1 defeat. “We have to find a way to be efficient. The games we played already, we have to have a higher efficiency rate to score more goals.
“I don’t want to play when teams come here to just defend, defend, defend. This is not our style. We’re not going to do that. If we create a good rhythm and create good chances, we have to finish."
The Union were undone by two terrific headed goals from Crew forward Steven Lenhart, who handily beat his man on both en route to a brace. These individual mistakes are consistently costing the Union matches, Nowak said.
“When you dominate and play forward and try to score some goals, sometimes it’s difficult to turn on at the right moment,” said Nowak of how his side played in the first half. “We have to work on these mental mistakes and keep our focus during those times. It’s been a couple of games that we’ve played already where those kinds of mistakes cost us not only goals, but the game as well.”
With any young, newly formed team, there is a learning curve. And for the most part, the Union have been playing much better during the middle part of the season than they did when their inaugural campaign began back in March.
Nowak would still like to see a more polished product take the field and with a number of matches remaining, they easily could improve even further.
“From the positive side, the game was pretty good from our standards,” said Nowak. “From both teams, there was good high-tempo play and we created a lot of chances. Like I said, the story on the day ... maybe even the season, we need to be efficient. We need to play the game simple and play the game effective. The efficiency part is still missing and we need to find the solution."