SANDY, Utah — For the opening 29 minutes, Real Salt Lake dominated both ends of the field.
From the 30th minute on, the Union elevated their level of play, but in the end fell a little bit short in a 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The record will show that the Union’s winless streak extended to six. They haven’t won a league match since a 3-0 clean sheet July 17 at New England.
But there were reasons to be optimistic following the defeat.
“I believe it was a good game, a good performance,” Union manager Peter Nowak said. “We missed a couple chances we were supposed to put away, especially two from Justin Mapp. It was good we created situations. In some capacity, we still missed a couple chances we created. We’ve got to get better with anticipation, but I'm quite pleased with the performance because the tempo was high and we still pushed throughout the game. We have to work on those set pieces we gave up goals from. That needs to be improved.”
At 8-7-10, the Union have a quick turnaround with Wednesday’s rescheduled match against the Revolution due to Hurricane Irene.
This much we know: defender Carlos Valdes will be available to play after missing the RSL match because of yellow card accumulation.
A great unknown at the moment is the status of captain Faryd Mondragon, the Union’s All-Star goalkeeper. Mondragon suffered a finger injury late in the first half and was replaced at halftime by 20-year-old Zac MacMath.
MacMath was solid in the second half and kept the Union in the match, his first career league appearance since being drafted fifth overall in the 2011 SuperDraft.
Kyle Beckerman opened the scoring and added an assist on Chris Schuler’s goal for a quick 2-0 advantage.
Sebastien Le Toux got the Union on the board with a dazzling goal in the 30th minute – a one-timer off a perfect cross from Mapp. It was the fourth goal this season for Le Toux and his first from the run of play.
“I think most of the season he was just unlucky,” Nowak said of Le Toux. “Starting in Houston, he hit a couple of crossbars and lately even the game at home versus Dallas, he hit the post. It’s a combination of things. For us, for the group, it’s not important. We have goals spread out. We’re not relying on one or two guys, we’re relying on the whole team. But it was good he scored a goal today and I hope he will continue to work this way.”
After Le Toux’s goal, the Union’s intensity seemed to pick up and they began to create more chances.
It didn’t result in points for Philadelphia, though, increasing the urgency heading into Wednesday’s match.
“It’s simple, we just have to win games,” Le Toux said. “We have two games coming at home, one Wednesday and one Saturday — we just need wins. With every game that comes, we need to make the most of it.”
Nowak echoed similar thoughts.
“We’ve got to be smart and not look back,” Nowak said. “Everything is in front of us. We can control what we can control, and that’s how the games in front of us will be played. As I said this week, it’s very important to follow up with a performance we did today and of course improve stuff we didn’t do well today. Also making sure we go back to like we started the season.”