Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, and Portland: those are the three teams the Union has yet to defeat since joining Major League Soccer.
Union manager John Hackworth’s squad gets a chance to cross one of those names off the list when the Timbers travel to PPL Park for a primetime matchup on Saturday night.
There’s no real history here, only three total matches between the teams. Portland leads the all-time series 2-0-1 and has conceded just one goal to Philadelphia over the course of 270 minutes of play.
1. May 6, 2011: Portland 1, Philadelphia 0 (Jeld-Wen Field)
Goals: Danso 72’
The surprising 2011 Union went into this one on a three game unbeaten run, having allowed just two goals through its first six matches.
Then manager Peter Nowak was forced to shuffle his backline with the combined absences of center back Danny Califf and left back Jordan Harvey. Gabriel Farfan stepped in on the left, while his brother Michael slotted in at right back. Sheanon Williams moved centrally to partner Carlos Valdes.
Philadelphia’s makeshift backline held up remarkably well, holding the home side scoreless in the first half and denying opportunities through the run of the play.
But the Timbers eventually capitalized on their size advantage.
The Union’s troublesome set-piece defending resulted in Futty Danso’s 72nd minute game-winner. Philadelphia’s offense struggled to create scoring opportunities and the Timbers held on for a 1-0 shutout.
2. September 10, 2011: Philadelphia 0, Portland 0 (PPL Park)
This is still one of the more disappointing results in PPL Park history.
You have to consider the circumstances. The Union had hit a rough patch, drawing at home with Dallas, losing consecutive games against Real Salt Lake and Colorado, and then giving up four goals at home in a draw with New England.
By this point, it looked like Portland might not make the playoffs, and there was a good chance for three points at home.
Philadelphia had the lion’s share of first half chances, coming close through efforts from Sebastien Le Toux and Roger Torres.
Kyle Nakazawa’s 88th minute effort summed up the story of this scoreless draw. Making an excellent run into the box, the midfielder’s side-footed effort clanked off the crossbar.
3. March 12, 2012: Portland 3, Philadelphia 1 (Jeld-Wen Field)
Goals: Gomez 51’, Jean-Baptiste 54’, Boyd 66’, Alhassan 76’
The 2012 season-opener turned out to be part one of a three-game losing streak to kick off the year.
There were a lot of question marks going into this one. What could we expect from new strikers Lionard Pajoy and Josue Martinez? Was Porfirio Lopez the answer at left back? How would Gabriel Gomez partner Brian Carroll in the midfield?
All four of those players have since moved on to other teams.
Still, the Union played well enough in the first half, keeping Portland off the board and even opening the scoring on Gomez’ 51st minute free kick.
It was after that where things fell apart.
Zac MacMath made a mistake on Andrew Jean-Baptiste’s equalizer, before Kris Boyd’s 66th minute game winner. Kalif Alhassan added an insurance goal in the 76th and Portland cruised to a 3-1 comeback win.
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org