The final score wasn’t indicative of what transpired on the pitch.
Playing their third match in seven days, the Philadelphia Union showed tremendous heart and determination but ultimately fell 2-0 to the Houston Dynamo Friday night at muggy BBVA Compass Arena.
“It was an even game, but at the end of the day we walk out of here with nothing which is disappointing,” Union interim manager Jim Curtin said.
Will Bruin scored his ninth goal of the season in the 51st minute as he finished a crisp cross from Giles Barnes for a 1-0 lead.
“It turned out to be a one-play game like it often is in this building,” Curtin said. “Houston made a play to their credit to get the goal.”
In the 90th minute, the Dynamo went ahead by two goals on a fluke play. Omar Cummings sent a pass off the leg of Union defender Ray Gaddis and it immediately deflected right into the net for an own goal.
After defeating the Montreal Impact 2-1 last Saturday, the Union traveled to Frisco, Texas and ousted FC Dallas in penalty kicks in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup. With yet another short turnaround, the Union (6-9-9, 27 points) arrived in Houston (7-12-4, 25 points) and gave a gutty effort. There were plenty of chances as well.
Curtin put some changes into his starting lineup, most notably with rookie goalkeeper Andre Blake making his league debut. Blake, the No. 1 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft from the University of Connecticut, performed at an extremely high level.
Blake started in a pair of U.S. Open Cup matches and the friendly against Crystal Palace and was rewarded here with the nod over Zac MacMath.
“It’s a great feeling, but its just unfortunate I didn’t walk away with a win or a tie,” Blake said. “You’ve got to go back to the drawing board and keep working.”
Blake singlehandedly kept the Union alive in the 84th minute when he stymied Bruin twice in the crease with diving stops. It was a highlight reel type of sequence.
Rookie Pedro Ribeiro also started and made his league debut for the Union.
“I’m definitely happy about my first MLS game, thrilled with that, but definitely not happy with the result,” Ribeiro said.
Sebastien Le Toux scored two goals against the Impact and nearly had several more against the Dynamo. Despite the hot and humid conditions, the Frenchman never stopped running and creating opportunities.
In the 32nd minute, Blake sent a long goal kick to Le Toux, who had his shot saved by Tally Hall. Then in the 36th minute, Le Toux placed a cross toward the goal which was just out of the reach of Danny Cruz. Conor Casey replaced Le Toux in the 76th minute and the Union continued to make a push to create an equalizer.
The best chance came in the 83rd minute with Fred’s through pass to Andrew Wenger. But Wenger couldn’t quite get his footing and his shot just outside the box was saved.
Houston’s own goal became too much to overcome and the Union ended the night tied for fifth with the Columbus Crew for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Union will have eight days off before hosting the San Jose Earthquakes Aug. 24 at 8 p.m. at PPL Park.
“We have to regroup and get back on track,” Curtin said. "We have seven of our last 10 at home, which is positive.”