Cann's Corner: Union fall 2-0 to Toronto FC

Philadelphia Union fell 2-0 to Toronto FC at Talen Energy Stadium on Friday night to round outtheir MLS schedule ahead of the league’s World Cup break.

Head Coach Jim Curtin responded to the absence of his two deep midfielders, Ale Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin, by dropping Borek Dockal into a deeper role alongside Warren Creavalle, with Ilsinho sliding inside to take up the attacking midfield role he occupied for much of 2017.

Toronto returned Michael Bradley to his holding midfield position with Nick Hagglund joining to the back line after an injury absence.



First half

Toronto threatened first, exchanging quick passes through the center in the 9th minute and sending Nick Hasler free up the left wing. The wingback’s centering pass was smartly cut out by an alert Creavalle.

A response from the home side came two minutes later when Dockal chased down a loose cross in the right corner, beat his man and walked into the box before finding Ray Gaddis in the middle, but the left back scuffed his shot wide of the mark.

The Union’s best chance of the match came in the 12th minute when Creavalle recovered a loose ball and quickly played Fafa Picault behind the Toronto defense. The winger was in alone but took a final touch that allowed Alex Bono to rush out and block the winger’s shot.

Moments later Ilsinho was in on goal after taking the ball off Bradley in midfield. The Brazilian kept the Toronto captain on his hip as he drove at goal but fired a left-footed shot wide of the frame.

Toronto took advantage of the Union’s finishing woes in the 19th minute when Victor Vazquez collected the ball in space just above the center circle and played an inch-perfect pass to Jonathan Osorio. The midfielder took a sumptuous touch to split Keegan Rosenberry and Mark McKenzie and raced in alone on Andre Blake, passing a shot around the goalie with ease.

Philadelphia thought they had equalized two minutes later when Creavalle touched in Ilsinho’s shot. First, Ilsinho played the ball to CJ Sapong who spread play wide to Marcus Epps on the right. The winger drove at his man and put the ball into the box for Creavalle’s late run. There was a clash of feet and the ball popped out to Ilsinho. He beat his man and fired a shot that Creavalle nicked as it went by. Although the ball nestled in the net, the assistant referee immediately signaled that Creavalle was offside.

Toronto was back on the front foot in the 27th when Vazquez took a turnover in midfield and played Auro, Toronto’s wingback, on the right wing. He isolated on Auston Trusty and cut the defender but pushed a soft effort around Blake’s goal.

In extra time of the first half, Fafa Picault drove up the left wing and slid in a low cross that barely evaded Sapong. Picault recovered the ball but his lobbed cross was just over Rosenberry’s head.  



Second half

Toronto spent most of the second half looking to bring the match to a standstill. It took until the 58th minute for a chance to occur, and it came through an interaction between Dockal and Epps. After the winger was taken out from behind, a quick restart led to Dockal playing him behind the defense down the right. Epps cut the ball to the top of the box where Picault collected and curled a hard shot against the crossbar just above the far post.

Cory Burke entered the match for Sapong and made his own chance in the 69th minute. Twisting and shaking off three defenders, Burke found space to blast a left-footed shot well over the bar.

David Accam and Derrick Jones joined play, replacing Ilsinho and Epps respectively. But Toronto doubled their lead before the new entrants could inspire a comeback. Rosenberry’s throw-in fell to Giovinco outside the Union’s box, and the Italian played in Osorio who finished easily past Blake once more.

Blake denied Giovinco and Ager Aketxe in quick succession in the 84th minute. The striker found space to fire a long shot up the center that Blake pushed wide, but Aketxe was there to head back on frame, forcing Blake to fly through the air to collect the ball.

Philly had a great opportunity to cut the lead in half in the 87th minute when Accam dispossessed a defender and walked in alone, but the winger’s league struggles continued as he powered his strike directly at Bono.

The Union are in action again next weekend when they face New York Red Bulls in a win-or-go-home Round of 16 US Open Cup match at 7pm ET at Talen Energy Stadium.

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