A proud and hard-fought run toward a first trophy ended in a 3-0 loss Wednesday night as Philadelphia Union fell to Houston Dynamo. Mauro Manotas was the star man on the night, and the Union emptied their tanks but could not answer the striker’s pair of first half goals.
Three minutes in, Juan Cabezas ran onto a half-cleared ball at the top of the box and tried to rip a volley at Andre Blake’s net, but the strike was well off. This turned out to be a warning shot, and when Houston countered up the right moments later, Alberth Elis showed his quality to get to the endline on Ray Gaddis and cut back to the top of the six yard box. Mauro Manotas charged into the area and, when the ball swerved through Blake and Jack Elliott, kneeled to head home the opener.
The Union nearly countered in the 11th minute off a corner kick from the left. After the initial kick was cleared, Trusty played the ball back to Keegan Rosenberry. The right back played to Elliott, who stayed high, and broke down the right. Elliott sent the ball back and made a front post run, but Rosenberry’s cutback was cleared.
In the 18th minute, Medunjanin lifted the ball into the box for Picault and the ball bounced its way to Cory Burke. The striker had the ball taken off his foot as he tried to volley it home. On the ensuing corner, Medunjanin drove a low ball at Joe Willis that was pushed back post. Bedoya had a swing at it, but nothing squirted through the Houston defense.
Elis and Manotas combined to double the lead in the 25th minute. After Elis got the ball to his striker, Manotas swiveled through Trusty, turned Elliott, and powered a brilliant left-footed finish off Andre Blake’s far post.
Cory Burke’s first big chance came in the 32nd minute after Medunjanin and Dockal worked a free kick high on the right to free the Czech playmaker down the wing. His cross met Burke’s head, but the shot flashed over the bar.
In the 41st minute, Dynamo center back Philippe Senderos had to leave the match with an injury and was replaced by former Villanova player Kevin Garcia.
Houston continued attacking through right winger Elis in the second half. A 49th minute cross from the wide man was headed down by Quioto and Blake was on hand to cover it up.
In the 56th minute, Dockal had a swing at a bouncer in the box, but he lifted his shot well over the bar. Cory Burke made an acrobatic attempt at the ball in the 63rd minute, rising to hit a scissor kick off a cross from CJ Sapong, but the shot went straight to Willis.
An unfortunate series of events in the 65th minute handed Houston a 3-0 lead. Manotas took Elliott into the right corner then cut back for Martinez. The playmaker had the ball taken off him but it fell to Cabezas and the holding mid played Quioto in space up the left. When Andre Blake saved Quioto’s shot, the ball hit a hustling Auston Trusty and was blasted into the back of the net.
Burke almost pulled one back in the 67th minute when Gaddis got up the left and put the ball into the center of the box, but the Jamaican could not put the ball on frame.
Jay Simpson entered for Burke and quickly got on the end of two half-chances, but could not put either one past Willis.
David Accam entered for Dockal in the 78th minute, moving the Union to a 4-4-2 shape-ish shape.
An 84th minute blast from Manotas was pushed away by Blake as the shape of the game broke down and the Union pushed numbers forward.
Simpson responded with a spinning shot in the 85th minute but couldn’t get enough venom on the hit to push it past Willis.
Elis and Manotas hooked up one more time in the 86th minute, with the winger flying up the flank and cutting back for his striker, who bounced a shot at Andre Blake.
Elis continued making things difficult with his charging runs until the final whistle.
The Union are back in action on Saturday, September 29 when they travel to Columbus to face the Crew, who are only one point ahead of the Union in the Eastern Conference standings.