As excited as Toronto FC were to earn their first win of the 2012 season, that’s how upset the Philadelphia Union were about being the team that allowed them to do it.
Shortly after the Union dropped a 1-0 decision at BMO Field, Philadelphia manager Peter Nowak did not mince words when assessing what he witnessed over the previous 90 minutes.
“I would say that I’m extremely disappointed with our performance,” Nowak said. “We had a couple of good games, we played the way we wanted to play, and today it was the complete opposite. We took two steps forward and three steps back. If you play this way, then sooner or later you’re going to give up a goal and you’re going to chase the game.”
With the loss, the struggling Union dropped to 2-7-2 on the year. They are winless in their last five outings and sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only Toronto (1-9-0).
Aside from a couple of powerful shots from Michael Farfan and a strong effort from third-string goalkeeper Chris Konopka – who filled in for the injured Zac MacMath and Chase Harrison – the Union could not get much going north of the border.
HIGHLIGHTS: TOR 1, PHI 0
They attempted just two shots on target, as opposed to Toronto’s seven. In just his second MLS start, Konopka was under heavy pressure from Toronto, making six saves to keep his team in the game.
“I congratulate coach [Aron] Winter because they wanted it more,” Nowak said. “They played better. They competed for every ball. They chased every ball. That’s how teams should play in this league.”
The Union were once again hampered by injuries. In addition to the team’s goalkeeper troubles, leading scorer Gabriel Gómez sat out with a left quad contusion and right back Ray Gaddis left the game in the first half because Nowak said he wasn’t feeling well. Midfielder Michael Lahoud replaced Gaddis on the backline and struggled to contain Nick Soolsma on the cross that led to Danny Koevermans’ game-winning goal in the 88th minute.
Still, Nowak didn’t make any injury excuses, but instead pointed directly to a lack of execution and effort. He even specifically called out top playmaker Freddy Adu as a player he hoped to see more from.
Adu was brilliant in the first half vs. the Red Bulls on May 13, before sitting out the last three halves because of a red card. On Saturday, he struggled to keep possession the same way he did against New York two weeks ago.
“There’s a lot of things [Adu] can bring to the table but he needs to be focused and involved in the play,” Nowak said. “He needs to have the touches, the feeling for the game. I think a lot of that today was missing. We need to go back to the drawing board and make sure it’s not just about the skills and the vision he has, but his work toward the team concept.”
Nowak, however, was quick to note that Adu was not the only player who failed to step up.
“It’s not only Freddy,” Nowak added. “The whole group didn’t help each other today as they did in previous games.”