On Wednesday night the Philadelphia Union’s hopes of making an appearance in the Concacaf Champions League Final came to an end as Mexican side Club América defeated them 2-0 in a weird final result. The Union had multiple chances to score in this match including a penalty kick but were unable to score and the theme of failing to score goals in big games costed Philadelphia once again in the semifinal. The referee’s calls were totally one-sided in this game and it especially showed when Bruno Valdez was not given a red card for the denial of a goal-scoring opportunity.
Towards the end of the first half, the Union were able to create some scoring opportunities including striker Cory Burke‘s blocked shot inside the box thanks to a chipped pass, and then a wide-open header that defender Jakob Glesnes nodded over the bar. That was only the beginning of the end for the squad as they were faced with a tough deficit entering the second leg of the semifinal matchup.
The second half rolled around and in the 49′ striker Kacper Przybylko was brought down in the box and the Union had a great chance to make it a close competition but midfielder Jamiro Monteiro’s penalty kick was saved by star-studded goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa made an incredible diving save to his left and pushed it off the crossbar. Burke recollected the ball but then his rebound shot was saved again by Ochoa and by that point it took any air in the Union’s sails and America had all the momentum.
The inability and failure to score goals from an offensive standpoint have plagued this team all season long and it hurt them once again on Wednesday night considering the number 0 in the goal category. The majority of the blame should be put on owner Jay Sugarman and his ineptitude to go out and sign a proven goalscorer. Simply put, Sugarman has been a neglectful owner in terms of signing players as he has to be better and do better moving forward. It has been so many years since the Union had a go-to player at striker and that was Sébastien Le Toux, the best player in franchise history. It has been extremely frustrating seeing the same storyline year after year and nobody seems to want to change this current narrative.
Another concerning issue that factored into the loss was manager Jim Curtin electing to put in substitutes way too late into the match when the aggregate score was basically decided. Curtin has been putting this practice into motion the last few games and it has seriously hurt more than helped the team. And now that the Boys in Blue hopes of lifting the Concacaf trophy has come to an end, they have to shift their attention to league play as they’ve dropped to ninth place in the East.
Although this was an overall upsetting loss on Wednesday evening, the Union should at least be proud of themselves for at least being the only MLS team to make it to the semifinal round. Despite this fact, the Union still have larger problems looming on the horizon and will need to get their act together quickly in MLS play. Here’s hoping that they can turn things around and get back to what worked last season when they lifted the Supporters’ Shield Trophy on the final matchday of the season.
"Featured Photo: Chris Szagola/ New Castle News Online"
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