CHESTER, Pa. – The immediate sting was felt throughout Philadelphia Union’s locker room.
What’s important now is not letting it linger.
Steven Lenhart’s goal in stoppage time propelled the San Jose Earthquakes past the Union, 2-1, Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 18,581 at PPL Park. Instead of a hard-fought draw against the Western Conference-leading Earthquakes, the Union had to deal with their fourth loss in seven matches this season.
The Union (2-4-1) don’t play again until next Saturday at Seattle.
“This one definitely hurts,” midfielder Freddy Adu told philadelphiaunion.com in a virtually empty locker room about an hour after the match. “We, as players, have to forget about it and prepare for next week. We have to go back, watch film and do a better job in the next game like we did in the last one (against Chivas USA).
“It’s tough tonight, but we have to forget about it. It wasn’t good enough tonight and we all know that. We have to come back collectively as a group and go back to work on Monday.”
Philadelphia had won two straight matches – against Columbus and at Chivas USA – entering Saturday’s showdown against the Earthquakes.
Despite the frustrating loss, the players realize how vital it is to wipe the slate clean and prepare for a tough match at Seattle.
“We have to forget about this,” said midfielder Amobi Okugo, who started in place of an injured Brian Carroll (hamstring). “One thing about being in this league that I’ve learned – you can’t get too high or too low. You have to stay even-keeled. We’ll go back to work and get ready for Seattle.”
Even in defeat, there were several noteworthy storylines coming out of the match. Kai Herdling made his MLS debut just two days after arriving from Germany, captain Danny Califf returned from a two-game injury absence (hamstring), midfielder Gabriel Gomez extended his club-leading total to three goals, and goalkeeper Zac MacMath extended his shutout minute streak to 407 before allowing Lenhart’s first goal in the 76th minute.
In the end, the result went against the Union, but they can’t let it have any type of carryover effect.
“I think we’re all bothered by how this game ended,” said forward Danny Mwanga, who entered the match in the 75th minute for Lionard Pajoy and assisted on Gomez's goal. “We have to try and forget about it as soon as possible, but at the same time, we have to learn from it and come back strong against Seattle next week.”
The Union earned a 2-0 victory last season against Seattle at CenturyLink Field. Knowing they’ve won there before will help.
Once the sting subsides from this loss, they’ll get ready for another tough task after a 3,000-mile trip.
“It was a really tough loss to lose a game like that in injury time after fighting so hard to come back and equalizing,” said Union coach John Hackworth, who filled in for a suspended Peter Nowak. “The team in the locker room is pretty gutted at the moment. It’s just a tough one. We really feel like we deserved at least a point out of that game, in every way possible. Tough for us. Very disappointing. But we have to learn from it, come back, and be stronger.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Earthquakes 2, Union 1