The Philadelphia Union very easily could have left BBVA Compass Stadium with at least one point, maybe even three.
In a marathon MLS season, sometimes you come up a little bit short.
The Union (7-6-6, 27 points) played very well for long stints but eventually fell 1-0 to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
Even with the loss, the Union remain tied for third place in the Eastern Conference with 27 points.
Sure, 28 or 30 points would have been ideal. But the Union return home with a lot to look forward to.
“We’re fine,” manager John Hackworth said. “We’ve been on a five game unbeaten streak. I think that’s a record (tied for second-longest) for our club. And this is a tough league. You’re going to win some, and you’re going to lose some, especially when you try to play in these kind of conditions, third game in eight days, it’s just tough. So, thought our team put out a fantastic effort, just wasn’t there.”
Keep in mind that the Union played without leading scorer Jack McInerney as well as steady midfielder Keon Daniel. Both players were gone for Gold Cup duty with the United States and Trinidad & Tobago, respectively.
The Union were also quite shorthanded on the injury front without midfielders Kleberson, Michael Lahoud, Danny Cruz and Michael Farfan.
Aaron Wheeler and Antoine Hoppenot each earned their first start of the season. Wheeler’s start was the first of his career.
And the Union nearly left with a point.
Playing against a hungry club such as the Dynamo was just too much to overcome on this particular night.
“We tried to come here and force the game,” Hackworth said. “We tried to press Houston. We knew they were going to come after us hard and to some degree that worked and other times it doesn’t. When you do that, you have to be able to put the ball on the ground and possess it a little bit and take your rest when you can. We didn’t do a great job of that the first half. We had a lot of silly turnovers and that meant that we were working a lot harder.
“For us to be successful in this kind of heat and humidity for the second straight game in a row, actually third straight game in a row, it was going to mean that we had to be a good team in pressing and we also had to be good with the ball and manage the match well. And that’s why I think we let things get a little bit away from us.“
The Union are a very confident club. They’ve won big matches in hostile environments.
Now, they’ll be able to return home to face Chivas USA Friday night at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets)
“We have a good week of training and just look ahead,” forward Conor Casey said. “And we’re in a good place right now as a team. We haven’t dropped some points these last couple of games, but we’re in the middle of the season now, and this is what really counts and that’s what’s going to separate us.”
What do you think about where the Union are at this point of the season? Leave a message in the comments below.
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org