The Philadelphia Union fell 3-1 to Toronto FC on Saturday night at BMO Field. Coming off the team's gut-wrenching loss in the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final just four days ago, head coach Jim Curtin inserted five new starters in a defensive-oriented lineup.
While it wasn't ideal, the first half was exactly the type of game the Union have been putting together during their prior four-game unbeaten streak on the road. They were outshot 12-0 in the first half, but only two of those Toronto attempts were on target. One of them, a goal, was an unlucky deflection off defender Ray Gaddis from Sebastian Giovinco to give the Reds lead, but a 1-0 deficit at half was manageable.
"First of all congrats to Toronto, they were the better team on the day," Curtin said. "It was always going to be tough coming off the heartbreaking open cup loss, kind of rallying the troops. After 120 minutes I thought we put up a decent fight. I thought Andre Blake was a guy who stood out and had a good day. Overall disappointing, as good as Toronto was on the day I thought the goals we gave up were a little strange and silly."
Toronto FC went up 2-0 in the 63rd minute when Jozy Altidore scored from short range. But the Union struck back immediately from the hometown kid, Steven Vitoria.
Vitoria headed home a free kick attempt from Cristian Maidana in the 66th minute to bring the Union back within a goal. For Maidana, it was his 15th assist of the year, bringing him into a tie for the league's lead with Giovinco. For Vitoria, it was his first goal in a Union jersey in his first ever professional game back in Toronto.
"It was exciting," Vitoria said. "Finally having a chance to play in BMO Field in front of many family members and close friends. Getting a goal is always nice but that’s secondary, I’m not happy with the result, with the loss."
The Union controlled play for much of the next 15 minutes, but were unable to find the equalizer. In the end, Toronto goalkeeper Chris Konopka was forced to make two saves as the Union were outshot 21-5 and 4-3 on target.
"I actually felt pretty decent during the first part of the first half," midfielder Michael Lahoud said. "I thought we held our shape pretty well absorbed a lot of pressure and it was a fluke goal that went in. The second half they did a better job of moving the ball around and making us chase a little more and the tired legs started show. It was always going to be tough to come up here and I think we gave it the best effort we could and came up short."
With the loss, the Union fell to 9-16-7. Toronto improved to 14-13-4 and can clinch their first playoff spot in franchise history with an Orlando loss or draw. The Union will be off next weekend and will return to action Sunday, Oct. 18 at New York Red Bulls.
Contact Union press officer Chris Winkler at email@example.com.