Philadelphia Union’s 2012 regular-season opener started well. It just didn’t end smoothly
Midfielder Gabriel Gomez’s free kick in the 51st minute found the back of the net and the Union were momentarily all smiles.
But that first goal didn’t hold up and the Portland Timbers went on to score three unanswered goals – Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Kris Boyd, the Scottish Premier League’s all-time leading scorer, and Kalif Alhassan – in a 3-1 victory Monday night at JELD-WEN Field.
“I don’t think we did that poor,” Union manager Peter Nowak said. “We made it difficult on ourselves. (We need to) be disappointed and we need to go back and work. We should have pressured harder. If we can hold up more we can get a different game. This is still a learning process for us.”
The Union have six days to regroup and prepare for the much-anticipated home opener Sunday at 4 p.m. ET against the Colorado Rapids at PPL Park. Philadelphia's home opener will be broadcast nationally on the new NBC Sports Network.
On this night, the Union managed just two shots on goal. There were other chances where a touch here or a touch there could have resulted in a shot. Midfielder Michael Farfan looked to distribute on a couple of occasions that perhaps could have instead resulted in shots on goal.
But ultimately it was Portland's pressure that led to Philadelphia's undoing in the second half.
“There are certainly a couple goals where it is unfortunate situations,” said Union defender and captain Danny Califf. “Overall, if you look at the game it wasn’t so poor. There were positives both offensively and defensively. It’s their home opener and they brought it.”
What the Union must do now is learn from their mistakes and get ready for the Rapids.
It’s a long season and the Union are still in the process of incorporating a number of new faces who are playing together in a regular season situation for the first time.
Gomez, defender Porfirio Lopez, and forwards Lionard Pajoy and Josue Martinez earned their first career MLS starts Monday.
“I feel that with preseason, it’s helped us come together and learn to understand each other,” Nowak said. “I think it’s going to take time though and we will look to work on our mistakes in the next [six] days before our next game. There is still 36 weeks in front of us and our players will take time and get to know one another better.”
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