It was a disappointing Sunday night for the Philadelphia Union as they closed out their season with a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium.
The two teams traded shots early in the first half as Cristian Maidana let one rip from distance in the 2nd minute, but missed by inches. Zac MacMath would produce the first save of the game in the 7th minute as Justin Meram evaded a defender and took a shot from right outside the eighteen, but MacMath caught it without any trouble.
Columbus would come close to finding the opener in the 10th minute as Waylon Francis' cross turned shot hit the bar but the rebound was dealt with by MacMath. Columbus would however open the scoring as Jairo Arrieta received the ball in the box from Ben Speas in the 13th minute, rounded an on rushing MacMath and slotted home for the first goal of the game. It was a rare judgment in error from MacMath but would not be the last on the night.
Arrieta would bomb forward again in the 23rd minute, but Ethan White did well to put himself in-between the man and the ball.
Columbus were content to keep the ball in spells in the first half and while Philadelphia got forward at times, poor passing prevented too many real chances from appearing.
Philadelphia would however manage a couple of shots on goal toward the end of the first half. Raymon Gaddis played a cross in in the 27th minute, across the penalty area and it was met by the head of Andrew Wenger but went just wide. Then, soon after Sebastien Le Toux received the ball in the box, turned and got a shot off but Steve Clark caught it easily, the first of several saves on the night.
Seconds later, in the 29th minute, Wenger lifted a ball forward but Le Toux's first touch was too close to Clark who collected it again with ease.
It was nervy moment in the 34th minute for Columbus, as Clark received a pass from his defender and barely managed to clear it with Le Toux bearing down on him.
Shortly before half time, in the 41st minute, Danny Cruz curled one at the edge of the box, but Clark lept to catch it and keep the lead for Columbus.
Despite Le Toux's height, Philadelphia were sorely missing Conor Casey at times in the first half. A myriad of crosses were sent in from Williams and others, but Le Toux's positioning and relative lack of physicality caused Columbus fewer problems. The Union found joy on the right however, as Williams got forward often as a result of the space left by Francis' many runs forward.
The Union started the second half well, pressuring Columbus. Williams' cross found Le Toux in the box in the 47th minute but was deemed offside and shortly after, Maurice Edu slid in at the last second to prevent Arrieta from scoring his second of the night.
Pedro Ribeiro would come on for Wenger in the 53rd minute, and his arrival had an instant impact. He retrieved possession on a turnover from Columbus, as Philadelphia eventually won a costless kick, but the costless kick was cleared by the Columbus defense.
Then, in the 58th minute, Cruz's shot once again from distance but it was blocked following a defensive header off of a Sheanon Williams' throw in.
Clark would make another save in the 63rd minute, as he caught a Ribeiro header from a Williams long throw in. It would prove to be Ribeiro’s penultimate contribution on the night.
In the 66th minute, Francis was in acres of space as he took a shot from right outside the box but it was no trouble for MacMath. Shortly after, in the 68th minute, Meram beat Williams one on one on the dribble, but it was eventually put out for a corner. Ribeiro would be taken off just minutes after coming on following a suspected head injury in the heat of battle, defending a corner kick.
Cruz would have another shot in the 72nd, as he cut in from the left, beat Francis, and let one rip but Clark saved the shot yet again.
Tony Tchani headed wide of goal following a corner in the 76th minute as Columbus sought their second of the night.
Philadelphia would cause problems late on as Edu's header went just wide as he met a Maidana costless kick in the 81st minute. Then in the 85th minute, Zach Pfeffer scored what was thought to be the equalizer, just minutes from time, grabbing his first professional goal. Le Toux chipped a defender to find Amobi Okugo whose lay-off found the feet of Pfeffer who slotted it home.
But it was not to be for Philadelphia as Bernardo Anor scored yet another winner against the Union in the 90th minute, as he tapped it in on the stroke of full-time following a mix up in the box.
The Union desperately searched for an equalizer in added time as Cruz latched onto a ball in behind in the box in the 93rd minute, but Clark caught it before Okugo could get onto the rebound and again just seconds before the final whistle as MacMath came up field in the 95th minute. Philadelphia were awarded a costless kick, but the final whistle blew as a Columbus defender got a head to the costless kick to ensure that Philadelphia's season ended with a defeat.
Columbus await the result of Sunday's match up between Sporting Kansas City and the New York Red Bulls to see where they'll finish in the Eastern Conference and subsequently who they'll face in the playoffs.