The Philadelphia Union recorded their first home defeat of the season on Friday night when they fell 2-1 to Colorado. A poor first half by the entire team saw the Union fall into a 2-0 deficit. Two rare defensive lapses by CB Carlos Valdes turned into goals by the Rapids. In the second half, the Union came out fighting, but lackluster finishing cost the dearly. Philadelphia had to play a man down after RB Sheanon Williams saw first a yellow then a red card for arguing a non-call by the referee. That lack of discipline is inexcusable when you are down by 2 goals and are pressing to get a result. Philadelphia had numerous chances but couldn't put their shots on target. Danny Mwanga played the entire 90 minutes but never got out of first gear. Second half substitute Roger Torres pulled the Union within 1 in stoppage time and Valdes had a chance to draw even with virtually the last kick of the match but his shot went right at the keeper. After the match Peter Nowak informed everyone that the Union's leading goal scorer, Carlos Ruiz, will no longer be playing Philadelphia. Details of any deal have yet to be made public. This loss along with a win by Columbus dropped the Union to 2nd place in the East.
Philadelphia face off against Chicago on Wednesday night at Toyota Park. The Fire are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. They have record just 1 home win so far this season, but have only been defeated twice. Their 1-2-6 record at Toyota Park gives them the worst home record in the league. Last season, the Fire defeated Philly 2-1 in Chicago. Philadelphia won the other 2 meetings including a 2-1 victory at PPL Park earlier this year. The Fire last played a league match on July 16 in which the fell 1-0 at home to Portland. That was their 2nd consecutive loss. During Chicago's break from league play, they took on EPL Champions, Manchester United at a sold out Soldier Field. Despite losing 3-1 the team played very well and forced United to earn a victory.
Philadelphia will be looking to get back on track and pick up 3 points on the road. Nowak will have some big decisions to make as Williams is suspended for this match. Michael Farfan or Keon Daniel get the call to fill in for the right back as both have played some minutes in defense. The Union's offense looked poor against Colorado with most of the scoring chances coming from the back line. Now that Ruiz is no longer with the team, Nowak has to figure out his best combination up front. While Mwanga has 5 goals, his last outing may have put some questions in the mind of his manager as to if he is ready to be a 90 minute player. Sebastien LeToux is still stuck on 1 goal and has yet to score from open play. Until the Union find an answer to their lack of output from their strikers, they are going to have to rely on strong defensive play and will need their midfielders to step up their play.
This is the type of game Philadelphia must win if they want to finish in first place in the East. Chicago has struggled all year and the Union need to take advantage of that. After this match, Philadelphia has 2 very tough games, so 3 points here will help their confidence.
(image courtesy of Greg Carroccio)