Philadelphia Union (10-9-9, 39 points) fell to the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0 Sunday night at Buck Shaw Stadium, as a goal from Earthquakes midfielder Shea Salinas in the 15th minute was enough to see the home side get all three points. Despite the result, the Union remain in playoff contention as the club is currently in fourth place in MLS' Eastern Conference standings.
“I’m extremely disappointed. We let an opportunity to separate ourselves in the table slip by having a poor performance out here in San Jose,” manager John Hackworth said after the match. “You’ve got to give credit to the Earthquakes, though. They’re a good team; they make it hard on you. They bring so much pressure. But at the same time, we didn’t have a lot of quality, in particular the first half.”
Salinas managed to slip in behind the defense and put a ball past MacMath. On his way in, Salinas bumped Union defender Sheanon Williams, but no foul was given.
The Union came out of the locker room unchanged after halftime, and nearly equalized minutes after the start of the second half. Keon Daniel found himself on the edge of the 18-yard-box when he fired a right-footed shot at the net. The ball found its way through the San Jose defense and bounced off the outside of the post, keeping the score, 1-0.
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“I thought we played better to start the second half. We settled down a little bit and started connecting a little bit. They were playing a really high line, too,” said Hackworth. “You’ve got to be intelligent about the type of soccer you’re playing. We sorted some things out at halftime, but we lost that game in the first half.”
San Jose’s (10-11-7, 37 points) Rafael Baca received a second yellow card for a challenge on Conor Casey in the 57th minute, sending him off for the match. The midfielder went in with both feet on a challenge and caught the Union forward before the referee put him in the book. With an extra man to finish the game, the Union went on the offensive, creating numerous chances in the final 30 minutes.
“When they went down to a man, it made so much of our life easier, and made a lot of our life harder because they stuck so many people behind the ball,” Hackworth said. “We certainly created chances, but didn’t find the final touch.”
In total, Philadelphia had 15 attempts on goal and forced San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch to make four saves. The final minutes of the game saw the Union hold steady possession inside the Earthquakes’ half with sustained pressure on goal, but were unable to find the end product to put the ball in the net.
“We’ve got to hold ourselves accountable to a higher standard than we did tonight,” Hackworth noted. “That level of play is unacceptable for this club and this organization, all the way around.”
The Union will look to put this game behind them quickly, as the club faces Eastern Conference side Houston Dynamo next Saturday at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets). Houston currently is just two points behind Philadelphia in the standings.
“We’ve done a good job being able to rebound off loses; we haven’t lost two games in a row all season,” forward Antoine Hoppenot said postgame. “We have a home game next week and we need three points. It’s vital we get three points. I think we’ll go out there and put a lot of pressure on them and hopefully get the three points.”