Despite late rally, Philadelphia Union fall to Orlando City for first loss
Christian Higuita challenges for the ball. Image Courtesy of mlssoccer.com

Despite late rally, Philadelphia Union fall to Orlando City for first loss

The Philadelphia Union suffered their first defeat of the season away to Orlando City on Saturday night.

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VAVEL
Orlando CityBendik; Johnson, Aja, Spector, Toia, Perez Garcia (Barry, min. 80), Carrasco (Higuita, min. 70), Nocerino, Barnes, Rivas (Da Silva, min. 89), Larin.
Philadelphia UnionBlake; Rosenberry, Onyewu, Marquez, Fabinho, Medunjanin, Jones (Alberg, min. 76), Herbers (Ilsinho, min. 61), Bedoya, Pontius (Picault, min. 85), Sapong.
SCORE1-0, min. 39, Larin, 1-1, min. 52, Sapong, 2-1, min. 72, Larin.
REFEREEFotis Bazakos (USA). Admonished Rivas (min. 25), Onyewu (min. 28), Medunjanin, min. 80, Perez Garcia (min. 80), Spector (min. 82)
INCIDENTSMajor League Soccer Eastern Conference match between Orlando City SC and Philadelphia Union. The match was played at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

The Philadelphia Union traveled to Orlando to take on Orlando City SC on Saturday night.

Orlando with the early pressure

Orlando pressured well early on in the match when Matias Perez Garcia's looping cross found the diving toe of Carlos Rivas but he couldn't get enough power on to it to trouble the keeper in the second minute.

Orlando continued to push early on, earning a corner in the fourth minute, but Andre Blake ran through a crowd of bodies to claim the corner with confidence.

The Lions would again threaten in the eighth minute when a floated ball into the box found the feet of Cyle Larin but Andre Blake recognized the danger and came out to smother the ball before Larin could get a shot off.

It would be deja vu for the Union in the eleventh minute when Blake came out to tackle away the ball against an onrushing Carlos Rivas who went down in a heap but would return to the field following an injury scare.

Philadelphia reply

The Union would finally have their first chance of the match in the fourteenth minute when Chris Pontius controlled a pass in the box and let a shot rip but his effort dragged just wide of goal. Moments later, Pontius would threaten yet again, having received a Keegan Rosenberry cross, which he headed toward goal but like his previous effort, his shot went wide of goal. Despite being a welcomed change of pace for visiting Philadelphia fans, Philadelphia continued to struggle to get a shot on goal. 

Momentum returns to the Lions

Tragedy nearly struck in the twentieth minute when an attempted clearance from Oguchi Onyewu almost found the back of the Union but Blake leaped into action to tip the ball over the net much to Gooch's relief.

Blake was again called into action moments later, clearing the ball when Garcia's cross found the feet of an onrushing Antonio Nocerino and injuring himself in the process. However, the Jamaican international would be fit to continue despite the injury scare. 

Blake's international teammate Giles Barnes joined in the fun with a cheeky effort from distance off a free kick in the twenty-seventh minute but the shot didn't have much on it and Blake caught it with ease. 

Philadelphia replied with their own set piece in the thirtieth minute when Haris Medunjanin's corner found Richie Marquez but the pass was going out of play before Marquez could do much with it. 

Orlando gets their reward

Orlando got their reward for dominating the chances of the first half in the 40th minute when they got the game's opening goal. The Lions broke with pace and the speedy Carlos Rivas found Cyle Larin in the box as the Canadian international slotted home with ease.   

Second half, more of the same

Orlando began the second half where they left off in the first, getting at the Union defense with pace as Perez Garcia let one rip from distance in the forty-seventh minute.

The purple wave of pressure continued in the fiftieth minute when Carlos Rivas got in behind the Philadelphia defense but his shot was deflected off a Union defender into the grateful arms of Andre Blake.

Union equalize

Philadelphia would capitalize on a rare chance early in the second half when Fabian Herbers' cross found  Alejandro Bedoya in the box who dinked a chip across goal to an onrushing C.J. Sapong who tapped the ball with his head into the back of the net for the equalizing goal.

Sapong scored the equalizer in his first start of the season.
Sapong scored the equalizer in his first start of the season.

The run of good play continued for the Union, this time from a set piece when Bedoya's free kick found the head of Pontius, but the winger's header was skied over the bar in the sixtieth minute 

Orlando tried to be clever from the corner in the sixty-third minute with a short corner finding it's way to Nocerino on the edge of the box, but the Italian's shot lacked power and didn't trouble Blake.  

Orlando return to the driver's seat

The Lions would snatch the lead back in seventy-second minute when Cyle Larin grabbed his second goal of the night and nearly added a third in seventy-sixth minute when Rivas pulled a pass back for Nocerino but the Italian skied his shot well wide of goal. 

The match began to devolve into yellow cards and violence in the final fifteen minutes as the referee began to lose control of what was a very physical match with Carlos Rivas coming off with a suspected injury in the dying moments of the match.

Orlando resorted to dropping back and trying to kill time and were nearly punished for it when a Keegan Rosenberry's long throw found Ilsinho whose shot hit the post before the save of the game was made by Joe Bendik in the 93rd minute when he palmed away an Alejandro Bedoya header in dramatic fashion and was subsequently embraced by his defender when the referee blew his whistle to confirm the victory for Orlando.

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