Union season opener team photo
Greg Carroccio

Play-by-Play Plus: Union must give 90 minute effort similar to the first 40 that dominated Sporting Kansas City

For 40 minutes, the Philadelphia Union had Sporting Kansas City on the ropes in the opening game of the 2013 MLS season.

The Union wasn’t just leading 1-0 but were dominating in all facets of the game. Their passing was superb, so too were their runs off the ball. It seemed like everyone was in sync in the first half of play. They had so much possession that Sporting Kansas City was on its heels and pretty much out of the game. Normally that's what SKC does to their opponent. The return of Sebastien Le Toux was the big story and Seba came through with a go ahead goal in the 17th minute.

For the Union, the one negative was the lack of finish.

Despite all of their chances, the club managed to score just once, and that, along with some defensive errors would be enough to ensure a bad result in the home opener.

If you leave a good team like Sporting Kansas City in the game, at some point they'll take it over. The Graham Zusi goal in the 41st minute gave MLS' two-time defending Eastern Conference champions some life, going into the locker room at halftime.

Watch: Union-Sporting Kansas City highlights

A goal off of a free kick turned out to be the game winner for Oriol Rosell in the 66th minute. Later, Designated Player Claudio Bieler added an insurance tally in the 83rd to seal the deal.

For the Union, despite having more attempts at goal, more shots on goal, and more corner kicks, it was a cruel loss. Playing their best 40 minutes of soccer in at least the last two years meant nothing on this day.

Despite the loss, there's no reason to hit the panic button. It's just one game. The Chicago Fire lost 4-0 at the LA Galaxy, DC United lost 2-0 away at Houston, and last year’s Supporters Shield winners San Jose lost at home to Real Salt Lake. No one should be panicking in any of those places today.

Instead, the Union needs to take some of the positives from Saturday and take that into Colorado for their next game. Continue to play with confidence and bring numbers into the attack. Continue to work hard for each other and keep the spacing like we saw in the first 40 minutes at PPL Park.

Offensively, if you play like you did for the opener, you'll win, or at least draw on most nights. After all, how many MLS teams have a Jimmy Nielsen in goal? The reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the year made five saves in the game including a couple of spectacular ones, to keep his team in the game. He was a difference maker for sure.

From a defensive standpoint, the Union need to improve their marking on those set pieces. It cost them many goals a year ago, and helped lead to their demise this past weekend.

The team will be traveling to Colorado (6 p.m., The Comcast Network) on Friday where they will face high altitude and a Rapids team who lost their opener 1-0 at FC Dallas on Saturday.


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