Match Recap: Fabián scores in debut as Union fall to Toronto

The Union came out aggressive and Toronto sought to win the ball in their own half and take control of play away form the home side. Although Philadelphia played at a fast pace, Toronto’s deep, organized shape meant they had difficulty penetrating to create open looks. Although the Union had four shots to Toronto’s one after the first half hour of play, neither side put a strike on frame until the 32nd minute when Nick DeLeon finally tested Andre Blake.

Diving to his left, Blake made a spectacular stop to preserve the tie, but referee Nima Saghafi whistled for a handball during the post-shot scramble when the ball bounced off the underside of Kai Wagner’s ribcage.

Blake, however, felt he had earned the first stop and was unwilling to let Jonathan Osorio change the scoreline. Going down to his left once again, he smothered the penalty and gave his side an early boost.

As the Union moved the ball horizontally, Toronto shifted well, forcing Marco Fabián to drop deep to get involved. This left Philly without numbers forward necessary to create spaces further up the pitch.

Just before the first half could wind to a close, Toronto broke the deadlock through a late run by captain Michael Bradley. TFC worked a 2v1 up the Union left and Nick DeLeon was able to push free to cross the ball low behind the retreating Union defense. Arriving in space, Bradley lifted the ball past Blake to put the visitors up heading into the break.

In the 49th minute, the union nearly leveled after excellent work from Fafa Picault won the ball back thirty yards from the Toronto goal. Moving play from right to left and back again, the Union found Picault back post but the striker could not turn the ball on frame.

Three minutes later, Picault again found the ball in the box after Wagner released Bedoya up the left wing. The Union captain curled a left-footed cross into the box but Picault could only corral it facing away from goal. Before he could release a shot, Picault was closed down and pushed play wide to Ilsinho who could only unleash a rocket far wide of goal.

The match became heated; Bradley was carded for repeatedly fouling Union players, and Fabián in particular. But moments after handing the TFC captain that yellow card, Saghafi elected not to award a second for another hard foul — once again on Fabián — from behind.

The visitors got on the board again in the 61st minute. This time, Toronto created their overload on the right side of Philly’s shape, with Laurent Ciman slipping beyond Osorio and driving the ball through the penalty area. Blake flew out to push the ball away, but the center of the box was empty, save for Bradley. Once again, he found the finish simple and put his side up two.

All preseason, Jim Curtin has preached hard work, and the Union continued to push play as they looked for a way back into the match. Intelligent movement from Ilsinho, Fabián, and Ale Bedoya granted Fabián space for a cross on the right, and the ball hit off the arm of a leaping Osorio and Saghafi once again pointed to the spot. Alex Bono did not have the intuition of Blake, and Fabián finished past him easily for his first MLS goal./p>

Philadelphia’s second nearly arrived in the 76th minute when Cory Burke’s low cross created a frantic goalline scramble. After Fabián and Bono collided, the ball squirted free and spun toward goal, but Ciman stuck out a leg to clear it off the line.

As Philadelphia sought an equalizer, Toronto began taking additional time to recover from fouls, and the referee became increasingly particular about restarts. A collision at midfield between substitute Sergio Santos and Drew Moor led to a tussle between the sides but only a caution for Santos. In second half extra time, Nick DeLeon popped free on the left to tuck home Toronto’s third and finish off the match.

The Union return to action next Sunday at 3pm ET when they face Sporting Kansas City on the road.

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