Saturday afternoon, the Union entered BMO Field arguably the healthiest they’ve been all year. Yes, the team was without captain Maurice Edu because of a yellow card accumulation suspension, but the rest of the Union starters were accounted for in a key Eastern Conference Battle.
But, as their luck has seemed to go all year long, the Union lost more than just a game on Saturday. Andrew Wenger was forced off after just a half-hour due to a head injury that appears to be labeled as a mild concussion. Then, midway through the second half, defender Richie Marquez rolled his ankle and might have a sprain. While neither have been officially diagnosed, both fixtures in the starting lineup appear due to be shelved.
“Disappointed we had to burn a sub early – all three subs actually we had to make, not by choice,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said, including Cristian Maidana, which doesn’t look to be as serious. “Obviously [Richie and Andrew] are two important pieces. Maidana, I had to make that sub because he gets kicked in the foot early and didn’t look like himself the rest of the time out.”
Before all that, though, the Union were once again off to a solid start on the road. They’re still the only team in MLS yet to concede a goal in the first 15 minutes, and again on Saturday the Union looked like the livelier team for much of the first half hour. There were chances, none of which were obviously finished.
After that, Marco Delgado broke the scoreless tie in the 29th minute by take a pass from Sebastian Giovinco in the middle of the box. Just three minutes later, Giovinco doubled the lead by tapping in his own rebound that he forced by ripping a shot on Brian Sylvestre.
Just like that, the Union were down 2-0.
“I thought in the first 25 minutes we had a lot of the ball, had a lot of chances, [but] we don’t get a goal,” Curtin said. “To Toronto’s credit they were well organized, they were tough to break down with the block of eight guys that defended. Again, credit to them but I think if we were a little sharper in the first half I think we could have got a goal.”
Then came the injuries. Eric Ayuk subbed in for Wenger and Zach Pfeffer subbed in for Maidana. The young offensive duo, 18 and 20 years old respectively, just couldn’t seem to get into a rhythm. Sorely needing a couple of goals late, Curtin brought on veteran Conor Casey for Marquez and moved into a 3-5-2.
Casey got on the right end of a C.J. Sapong flick to bring the Union within striking distance in extra time. But in the end, it was too little, too late. For Casey, it was his first game since May 24 and his first goal since Sept. 6, 2014 – also against Toronto FC at BMO Field.
The Union fell to 6-11-4 and sit in 7th place in the Eastern Conference. They’ll have just two days off before they play again, where they’ll meet New York Red Bulls in the quarterfinal round of the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. With a win, the Union would advance to the semifinals of the tournament for the third time in four years.
Contact Union press officer Chris Winkler at firstname.lastname@example.org.