Philadelphia Union falter at home against Orlando City, lose 2-0
Photo Courtesy of Derik Hamilton/USA Today Sports

On Sunday afternoon, Philadelphia Union returned home after a month away from Talen Energy Stadium and fell 2-0 to Orlando City SC in the penultimate game of the Major League Soccer regular season.

First half is heavy on defensive play

The first half was a back and forth affair with defensive prowess on both sides on display. Neither team were able to register a shot on net in the first half, despite a combined seven shots off target.

Orlando City’s Antonio Nocerino did well in his central midfield role by clogging up passing lanes and stifling the Union attack. To add to Nocerino, Orlando midfielder Cristian Higuita caused problems in central midfield and made attacking difficult for Philadelphia.

While they did well to keep Orlando’s star offensive players such as Kaka and Cyle Larin in check in the first half, Philadelphia could not put together much of an offensive attack.

“When we are all committed to defending, we get results” Orlando City head coach Jason Kreis said in his post-game press conference.

Orlando City take control of match in second half

Orlando came back out in the second half with purpose and effort to get points on the day. Within the first twenty minutes of second half, Orlando City made a lackadaisical Philadelphia team pay.

In the 59th minute, Fabinho was dispossessed in the midfield by Orlando forward Carlos Rivas. Rivas took off on a breakaway to face on-on-one with Andre Blake. Blake managed to get a hand of Rivas’ shot, which was still trickling towards the back of the goal. With a last ditch effort, Keegan Rosenberry tried clearing the ball off the line, but could not get it away as Rivas scored to get Orlando the1-0 lead.

Continuing with their poor offensive performance in the first half, Philadelphia were unable to answer the Orlando goal. The Union did have four shots on net in the second half, but could not come up with a goal. Philadelphia’s best opportunity at an equalizer came in the 67th minute, when Joe Bendik dove to his left and made an excellent save off a Chris Pontius header.

“Today just didn’t go our way. We had a bunch of good chances and we didn’t score” Union midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta said after the match.

For good measure, Orlando added a second goal in the fifth minute of stoppage from second half substitute Julio Baptista to put the game out of reach for the Union.

As boos rang down from the stands, referee Ricardo Salazar blew the whistle with the scoreline still at 2-0 in favor of Orlando

“Disappointing performance from everyone from the staff to the players. We let our fans down in a big way” Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin said after the match.

Luckily for Philadelphia, the New England Revoution fell to Chicago Fire, 2-1, which all but assures the Union a spot in the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs, a place the team has not been since 2011.

Philadelphia Union need to right ship before playoffs begin

The loss brings to light though a glaring issue: the lack of quality play in recent games. Brotherly Game’s John Rossi pointed out that the Union have only gotten two points in their last six games, which is their worst six-game stretch since April-May 2014.

Momentum is key for a team entering the playoffs and Philadelphia does not have much at all. Curtin and company will have one more time to try to enter the playoffs on their right foot when they finish the season at home against New York Red Bulls next Sunday.