Through this inaugural season, the Union have found a number of ways to score in dramatic fashion.
It almost happened again.
The scoreboard will show that the Union fell to the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, Wednesday night at Buck Shaw Stadium. But the Union almost extended an incredible statistic with 10 goals in the 76th minute or later, second in Major League Soccer this season.
In the final seconds of stoppage time, Shea Salinas nearly equalized against his former club. After Sebastien Le Toux’s free kick, Salinas ripped a shot that deflected off Tim Ward and into the arms of goalkeeper Jon Busch.
That has been the storyline for the Union (6-12-6), who were swept by the Earthquakes. The Union also dropped a tough 2-1 match to San Jose on July 10 at PPL Park, marking the first time in franchise history the Union have lost two league matches to a single opponent.
"In the end you feel like that you at least deserve a point out of that one,” Union Coach John Hackworth said after the match. “For the most part, we felt that we contained them, played pretty well, created some excellent chances. Full credit to San Jose and especially Jon Busch. He was fantastic. … Any other goalkeeper we at least get one of those three (chances) in the first half. Full credit to them but disappointing for us."
The Earthquakes received a goal on a header from Chris Wondolowski in the 69th minute. Wondolowski placed himself in perfect position to take Arturo Alvarez’s left-footed cross and connected past the fingertips of goalkeeper Brad Knighton. It was the sixth game-winning goal for Wondolowski, which ties him for first in the league with the L.A. Galaxy’s Edson Buddle.
"If we would have been a little bit more focused, I think we could have cleared the ball and keep it 0-0 in the back,” said Union defender Michael Orozco Fiscal. “That would have been great for us and keep attacking, but things didn't go that way. A little second of miscommunication and they score.
"We contained them the first half and we had to keep doing that during the whole game. They had one opportunity to score and they put it away."
Philadelphia’s three-match unbeaten streak came to an end, as did in all likelihood their late-season playoff surge, but there were plenty of positives:
- Knighton couldn’t extend his shutout streak to two following a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday, but was was solid in net once again and made a couple of strong saves in the second half, one in particular off a free kick from Geovanni in the 89th minute.
- Sheanon Williams provided a spark in his second consecutive start, pushing forward into the attack with regularity.
- Salinas took another step forward in his return from injury with a strong showing off the bench in the second half.
- Justin Mapp kept up his consistent play, serving up dangerous crosses from the left flank with regularity.
- Danny Mwanga played more than 20 minutes and didn’t seem to show any lingering effects from his mild shoulder separation.
The Union now have 10 days before hosting Chivas USA Sept. 25 at PPL Park. It will give them time to get healthy and shake off the disappointment of Wednesday's loss, a match that easily could have swung in Philadelphia's favor.