Philadelphia Union (7-6-6, 27 points) lost to the Houston Dynamo, 1-0 Saturday evening on the road at BBVA Compass Stadium, as a second-half goal from Ricardo Clark was enough to give the home side all three points. Despite the loss, the Union are still currently tied for third place in the Eastern Conference with 27 points.
“This is a tough league; you’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some, especially when you play in these kinds of conditions with our third game in eight days,” Union manager John Hackworth said after the match. “I thought our team put out a fantastic effort. It just wasn’t there tonight.”
With both teams missing several key players to injury or players being called up to the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, each side was forced to shift around the starting eleven. With Jack McInerney (United States) and Keon Daniel (Trinidad & Tobago) away for national team duty and Michael Farfan, Danny Cruz, Kleberson and Michael Lahoud out due to injury, the Union started two players for the first time this year in Antoine Hoppenot and Aaron Wheeler, who made his first MLS start.
After an opening 45 minutes with good opportunities on both sides, the two sides went to the locker rooms scoreless. Perhaps the Union’s best chance came on a run on goal from Wheeler, as the forward fired a shot on Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall, who just got a hand on it to keep it out of the net. The ball bounced into the center of the box, where an oncoming Conor Casey fired a shot that went just high.
VIEW: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
“We tried to come here and force the game. We tried to press Houston; we knew they were going to come at us hard,” Hackworth said. “When you do that, you have to be able to put the ball on the ground and possess a little bit and we didn’t do a great job of that in the first half.”
After the break, the Dynamo came out firing and scored the game winner in the 59th minute, as Ricardo Clark provided the goal that gave the home side the lead. Jermaine Taylor whipped in a cross from the left side of the field and found the head of Clark, who fired to the far post and into the net.
“We didn’t defend collectively as a group and we leave a guy open inside the box, and you can’t do that at this level,” Hackworth said. “Credit to Houston, they were pushing the whole game; they were a team that was really trying to get on the board. To their credit, they broke through in the second half.”
Watch: Huge save by Zac MacMath
The Union pressed forward in the final thirty minutes of the match to find an equalizer, but were unable to find the finishing touch to level the match. Second-half substitutions Don Anding, Roger Torres and Matt Kassel gave Philadelphia fresh legs as the club was playing in its second match in four days, but the Dynamo were able to hold on for the victory.
The Union will look to ahead for a positive result in a match at PPL Park against Chivas USA Friday, July 12 in a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff, broadcast on The Comcast Network.
“The past month we’ve been pretty consistent,” Casey said after the match. “So [we’ve got to] get back to what we were doing and take it from there.”