Philadelphia Union suffered a setback to round out August, falling on the road to Toronto FC, 3-1, on Wednesday night.
Both teams trotted out new lineups at BMO field on Wednesday night, with Head Coach Jim Curtin making three changes from Saturday’s starting group against D.C. United. Following through on his pregame comments about injecting freshness into the group, Curtin called upon Leon Flach, Olivier Mbaizo, and Alejandro Bedoya at the opening whistle. With the changes the team captain claimed his first start since his triumphant return from a lingering quadriceps injury.
Meanwhile the hosts sought to impress their own coach with the club announcing on Monday Canada Men’s National Team Head Coach John Herdman their new manager. Though he won’t officially take over until October 1, his presence was felt in the stadium as Toronto’s squad fought to display their skills in front of their incumbent leader.
Philadelphia Union came out and wanted another fast start and earned three Kai Wagner corners within the first five minutes of the match, but each attempt was unsuccessful. The team earned a fourth in the eighth minute after a Julián Carranza shot nearly put the first point of the night on the board, but his effort was stifled by a diving block from behind from Raoul Petretta.
Another Philly opportunity unfolded in the 20th minute, but a miscommunication between José Martinez and Bedoya caused both to run toward a loose ball at the top of the box. Martinez got to it first, attempting a banger from distance but placed it high toward the carnival adorning the home team’s supporter’s section skyline.
While the Union dominated early, the opening score instead came from Toronto’s Lorenzo Insigne in the 23rd minute. A bad touch from Jakob Glesnes allowed Toronto to maintain possession at the top of the box, where Jonathan Osorio found Deandre Kerr in scoring position. Instead of driving toward the net, he changed direction, passing to wide open Insigne who booted it to Andre Blake’s opposite. The score marked the 32-year-old Italian designated player’s his 4th goal this season but also gave Toronto it’s first lead under interim manager Terry Dunfield.
Down a goal on the road, the road back into the match was made more difficult in the 33rd minute as the Boys in Blue were forced into an early change when Leon Flach went down with an injury. The midfielder was unable to continue and with it brought homegrown Jack McGlynn into the Eastern Conference battle.
As Philly tried to find their footing, Blake kept the squad down only a goal with a big stop in the 36th minute. A perfectly placed cross from Toronto’s Federico Bernardesch to Pretretta put the home side in position to score again, but the header shot was stopped by a diving save from Blake.
As time wound down in the first half, the Union’s energy ramped up. Mbaizo threw the ball it to Mikael Uhre, who passed over Toronto defenders to the opposite post to find Carranza who caught former Philadelphia Union Academy player turned Toronto keeper Tomás Romero off guard for a tap-in goal to equalize.
Toronto attempted to regain the lead just before the halftime break when Bernardeschi escaped Jack Elliot for a quick and powerful boot toward the net, but Blake jumped to save it, keeping the score knotted into the second half.
Toronto’s determined energy carried over well into the second half along with a focus on cutting down any space for the Union to operate their quick passing combinations. The Canadian side reclaimed and extended their lead to 3-1 at the top of the In the 59th minute, a through ball past Union defenders made it to Bernardeschi who found Kerr directly in front of the goal. His shot passed Glesnes, Wagner, and Blake hitting the back of the net. Toronto made it 3-1 less than 10 minutes later; in the 63rd, Kobe Franklin found Jonathan Osorio for a header to the bottom right corner.
Toronto’s attack was unrelenting, in the 67th, Kerr tried for a brace after beating his defender, but his shot crash off the post.
Down by a pair of goals, Curtin made adjustments two minutes later with Jesus Bueno and Quinn Sullivan taking to the pitch for Uhre and Bedoya. The change brought a small lift with the ball at the feet of Gazdag in the center of the box, but came on too strong, sending it over the net.
Philadelphia continued to persevere through the deficit with constant attack – a Wagner cross in the 79th minute nearly became an Elliot header goal, but the cross bar sent it bouncing back into play. Bueno was ready for the ricochet, volleying the ball to the top of the goal. Romero swatted it away, giving Elliott another chance, but the attempt was sent out of bounds in traffic.
Curtin added fresh attacking speed for the remaining minutes, sending Chris Donovan and Joaquin Torres in for Julián Carranza and Daniel Gazdag in the 81st minute.
The match concluded with some chippy final moments between the two squads which saw a pair of yellow cards issued for each team including Jose Martinez in stoppage time. After a lengthy look by the referee and the Video Assistant Referee, the Union finished the contest with 10 men after Bueno was shown red.
Philly is back in action on Sunday evening with a Labor Day showdown against rivals New York Red Bulls. Kick off from Subaru Park is set for 7:30PM ET with the match broadcast nationally on FS1 and free on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.