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Match Report: Philadelphia Union 1-1 Toronto FC

Photo: Paul Rudderow

The Union’s winless streak rose to seven matches after they turned in another lackluster performance in a 1-1 draw Saturday afternoon at BMO Field against Toronto.

Despite their poor first half showing, luck was with the visiting Union as they managed to limp into the halftime break without conceding. Eric Hassli made them pay however, in the 58th minute, taking advantage of one in a series of defensive breakdowns from the traditionally stout Union back four.

Down a goal to the worst team in Major League Soccer, the Union increased their efforts as they looked for an equalizer. Manager John Hackworth used his substitutes to bring on two strikers and a playmaking midfielder, but it was right fullback Sheanon Williams who came to the rescue, pouncing on Antoine Hoppenot’s low delivery in the 85th minute to earn his side a share of the points.

First Half

With an extra week off to prepare for Toronto, Union boss John Hackworth made only one change to the side that limped to a 0-0 draw with New England, as Jack McInerney returned to the starting XI in place of Hoppenot. Danny Cruz continued to run alongside the Union’s center forward with Freddy Adu and Michael Farfan pulling the strings in the midfield. Hackworth’s preferred pairing of Brian Carroll and Michael Lahoud shielded the Union’s traditional back four of Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, who was an unused substitute in Colombia’s midweek World Cup qualifying victory over Chile, and Gabriel Farfan.

Toronto entered the match following a disappointing 2-1 midweek defeat at the hands of Chicago Fire, but proved they were the more committed side in a first half where they could have taken the lead on multiple occasions. Eric Hassli was immediately into the action, as he partnered with Luis Silva up top for the hosts, but Okugo’s perfectly timed sliding challenge saved the Union’s early blushes.

With the back four eagerly looking for an outlet, Lahoud and Carroll struggled to find the ball with Toronto pressing high. Balls over the top looked as if they might bear early fruit for the Union however, with Michael Farfan and Adu moving the ball well with their first touches.

Danny Cruz tracked down a loose pass in the 9th minute to win the Union a corner, but the short effort came to nothing. The Union’s flood of players in the middle of the pitch was overrunning Toronto and Michael Farfan nearly put Cruz away in the 17th minute, but Milos Kocic bravely went to ground, denying the Union winger on the edge of his box.

Despite the chance however, the Union were unable to develop consistency in attack as the positive play of Farfan and Adu was counteracted by the negativity shown by Lahoud and Carroll. As the Union pressed forward, the holding pair too enough ended the rush with a hurried pass back to the defense, halting the momentum, regardless of the existence of defensive pressure against them.

With the  center of the Union midfield in two minds about the direction to play the game, Toronto slowly began to grow into the contest. In the 21st minute, Hassli easily bumped off the challenge of Carroll before sliding the ball just beyond the reach of Silva, the first of a dangerous series for the Toronto attack.

Moments later, they nearly had another opportunity when Adu’s overly casual backpass was sniffed out by Jamaican international Ryan Johnson. Okugo came over to snuff out the chance, but when Johnson rugby-tackled him to the ground, referee Silviu Petrescu surprisingly waved play on. Fortunately for the visitors, Carroll was alert to the danger, sliding in to clear his lines.

Toronto was next to find themselves incensed at Petrescu. After Lahoud clearly fouled Hassli, the Frenchmen reacted condescendingly, taunting the official when he got the call wrong, entering his notebook in the 23rd minute.

Unable to complete simple passes, it was the captain, Valdes, with a rare error that nearly gifted Toronto the opener. Attempting to play out of the back, Valdes saw Silva pick off his pass and take off for the races. Okugo did well to keep himself in the passing lane, with Silva hesitating to look for his strike partner. With Valdes converging and the Hassli option wasted, Silva snatched at his shot, narrowly sliding it wide of MacMath’s near post, allowing the Union skipper to breathe a sigh of relief.

The Union were scrambling as MacMath’s footwork let him down for a corner kick at which he then flapped, missing badly. Fortunately for the Union shotstopper, McInerney was on the back post to head clear.

It was all hands on deck as Toronto ripped straight through the Union midfield and Okugo was forced to pull off a double block, first stuffing Hassli’s shot from the top of the box before sliding the ball away at the end line.

With little resistance offered by the Union’s defensive pairing, Toronto switched fields with ease, and Terry Dunfield picked out a streaking Reggie Lambe at the backpost in the 31st minute. Luckily for the Union, Lambe shanked his volley.

Cruz provided his teammates with a brief moment’s respite as he tore in on the Toronto box in the 35th minute. Cutting onto his left foot, Cruz was hacked down by Darren O’Dea, but with Petrescu again silent, Cruz fought to his feet, reclaiming the ball and driving in on net where he was unlucky to see it tackled off of him at the final moment.

These moments of attack were few and far between for the Union and Toronto pressed heavily for an opener before the halftime break. Ryan Johnson was featuring prominently for Toronto as he sliced in on Williams after the defender had left his touch too heavy. The Jamaican got a toe on the ball but followed through with a violent scissor tackle, leaving the Union defender crumpled on the deck. Again, there was no call.

Petrescu found his whistle moments later however, when Johnson uncontrolled leap saw the Toronto wideman land on Michael Farfan. Comically, Petrescu finally saw an infraction, waving a yellow card at the Union playmaker, who appeared to be protecting himself on the play.

With four minutes left in the half, Luis Silva had Toronto’s best chance of the match after Jeremy Hall played Lambe up the right flank. His long cross picked out an open Johnson at the back post. Heading back across the face of goal, he found Silva who, with the entire net to aim for, chose power over precision, blasting his shot well over MacMath’s cage.

Second Half

Buoyed by their first half escape act, the Union looked to open up the second half with more life and energy, but first half mistakes quickly reared their head. Carroll’s early turnover gifted Toronto possession and Valdes was forced to deal with more of Silva’s pressure when the attacker slid past Carroll and Lahoud.

Adu looked to find his place in the match as he drove up the left wing before Aaron Maund’s violent sliding tackle put a halt to his progress. For the second time in the match, Cruz failed to deal with the ball at the top of the box following a cleared free kick, allowing Johnson to race the other way. Fortunately for the Union, Silva was again slow in his decision making, playing Hassli into the corner allowing Carroll to recover and head clear.

Looking to take the game to Toronto, Gabriel Farfan was the next to try his luck going forward, but the Union spoiled the corner kick he won with a second poorly-orchestrated short play. Unable to find the ball in his regular channels, McInerney dropped into the midfield looking for work and nearly sprung Freddy Adu cutting in from the left, but the Toronto defense held firm.

Just as the Union were imposing themselves to a greater extent on the proceedings, Toronto grabbed a valuable opener through Eric Hassli. Silva was the architect, collecting a long ball and racing up the right touchline. Cutting the ball back across his body, his low cross was dummied by Dunfield before finding its way to Hassli. Left alone by the slow reaction of Valdes, who had also played Silva onside to begin the play, the Frenchman turned and fired a low drive just inside of MacMath’s far post, giving the home side a deserved lead.

Hackworth reacted quickly, pulling the ineffective Lahoud in favor of Chandler Hoffman. Though Hoffman was not involved in the play, the Union nearly equalized moments later when Cruz’s hooking service found Michael Farfan and McInerney behind the Toronto defense. Farfan got to the ball first and, not realizing he had time to settle, launched his header over Kocic’s cross bar.

With both team’s eager to get back into the win column, the intensity continued to mount, and the match grew chippy. After Hall dribbled out of bounds, Hoffman tried to grab the ball. Hall responded violently, shoving the Union striker with both hands. Again, Petrescu failed to take any action, further hastening the imminent boiling point.

Michael Farfan grabbed the next chance for the Union, picking Richard Eckersley’s pocket and racing up the endline. Looking to find an onrushing teammate, O’Dea’s sliding challenge was perfect, clearing the danger.

Hackworth continued to throw the kitchen sink at Toronto, removing Adu in favor of another striker, Antoine Hoppenot. The Union’s high pressure was aided by Toronto’s lack of composure as the home side began to foul on nearly every confrontation, giving the Union chances to push bodies forward. After one such foul near the right corner flag, Danny Cruz picked up Toronto’s clearance at the top of the box. Driving his shot into bodies, Cruz was crunched with the full weight of O’Dea’s boot as the defender missed the ball, making full contact the leg of the Union winger. The visitors protested loudly, but Petrescu allowed play to continue.

The flash point finally arrived in the 78th minute. After swinging and missing at an attempted clearance, Hassli stayed down at the edge of his defensive box. Playing on, the Union drove the ball into the area and only when a collision with the prone player seemed likely did Petrescu finally blow his whistle. Toronto, believing the Union should have played the ball to touch surrounded Michael Farfan, and the expected melee ensued.

Roger Torres was brought on for Gabriel Farfan as the Union looked to add creativity to their midfielder and the diminutive Colombian began the play that led to the Union’s equalizer. After Hall was finally cautioned for cutting down Hoppenot, Torres stepped up to take the kick. Though his effort was poor, Michael Farfan played the ball back to the driving Torres. Running out of options he laid if off for Hoffman, who was also looking into a wall of red jerseys. Smartly lifting his head, the Union’s first round draft pick spread the ball wide to Hoppenot who powered a sizzling, low ball into the Toronto 6-yard box. When no defender could get a toe to the heavily-weighted ball, Sheanon Williams was on the spot to sweep home  the equalizer, drawing the Union even with five minutes left in regulation.

Bit again by the late goal bug, Toronto launched back onto the attack, trying to find a dramatic winner. Silva had Okugo twisting and turning in the right corner, but his cross found only Brian Carroll who headed behind. At the other end, Cruz was again full of energy, but after showing excellent pace in beating Eckersley, could not find enough gas left to drive in on goal.

The seesaw next swung back to Toronto as Williams, the goal-scorer, had to be sharp in sliding out Dunfield’s dangerous through ball.

MacMath nearly set the Union away in the final moments, but after his powerful throw out found Hoffman on the right wing, the striker’s through ball was just ahead of Torres.

The Union return to action Thursday night, when DC United visits PPL Park.

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan (Roger Torres ’83); Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud (Chandler Hoffman ’61), Michael Farfan; Freddy Adu (Antoine Hoppenot ’71), Jack McInerney, Danny Cruz
Unused substitutes: Chase Harrison, Raymon Gaddis, Chris Albright, Jimmy McLaughlin

Toronto FC
Milos Kocic; Jeremy Hall, Richard Eckersley, Darren O’Dea, Logan Emory; Reggie Lambe , Aaron Maund, Terry Dunfield, Ryan Johnson; Eric Hassli (Quincy Amarikwa ’80), Luis Silva
Unused Substitutes: Freddy Hall, Andrew Wiedeman, Adrian Cann, Eric Avila, Matt Stinson, Dicoy Williams

Scoring Summary
58 – TOR: Hassli (Silva)
85 – PHI: Williams (Hoppenot)

Discipline Summary
23 – TOR: Hassli (caution)
39 – PHI: M. Farfan (caution)
84 – TOR: Hall (caution)
90 – PHI: Carroll (caution)

Referee
Silviu Petrescu

Attendance
15,669

TORONTO FC

PHILADELPHIA UNION

Goals

1

1

Attempts on goal

9

7

Shots on target

2

1

Shots off target

7

3

Possession

36.7%

63.3%

Corners

7

4

Fouls

19

13

Offsides

5

2

Total passes

247

448

Passing accuracy

63.6%

79%

Yellow cards

2

2

Red cards

0

0

 

13 Comments

  1. So is marfan suspended for the next game?

  2. Philly Cheese says:

    I know it has been said many times……but did we really go into Toronto to play for a tie with two defensive midfielders? With three strikers capable on the field in last 20 minutes, Union looked like they were actually interested in trying to score. Did Cruz, Jack Mac and Freddy Adu actually win the “goal scoring competition” the last two weeks that Hack set up, or is he starting to play the Nowak mind games of treating players like school kids? I thought he said there was going to be some surprise starters who scored goals in practice?

  3. James Korman says:

    A TIE versus Toronto feels like a loss to me.

    – I noticed that Coach Hack kept Gomez at home. He was not used in Panama’s int’l game so he’s apparently out of favour. Not a shocker.

    -Zach’s distribution again looked poor but I’m starting to wonder if it’s because we have no height. We lose most (all?) of the 50/50 balls so perhaps Zach should roll, or throw it out there. It’s frustrating to watch him punt it right back to the opponent again, and again.

    -Our 18 HAS to be the absolute youngest in the league, no? And we have got to be the most diminutive. Highest percentage of US youth players? Can anybody confirm any of those 3 statements?

    -Will our Forwards please score goals again soon?

    • I believe you are correct I think we do have the youngest team in the league, but again like you I could be incorrect.

    • Gomez didn’t play the first game in Canada but he went 90 minutes Tuesday night in Panama City. With 3 more games in 8 days, resting Gomez wasn’t completely unexpected.

  4. I really hope these are last games we see Adu in Blue & Gold.

    I’m tired of seeing his pouty, lackluster attitude EVERY game. I can’t even play soccer and i’d give more of an effort than him every game.

    Also, Jack Mac looked completely lost yesterday – and Lahoud…well, I don’t understand how he continues to be in the Starting XI.

    • I agree about Adu. For a long time I have been giving him chances in my mind because there is no doubt that he has a lot of skill when he is playing well. But he can’t keep his spot on this team (and his salary) if he can’t be consistent.

      I have read a lot of excuses about how he isn’t playing well because he is upset about his minutes and position and that he would be amazing if only he were surrounded by better players. That is fine if it is true (which I am skeptical of) but then he needs to go. If for whatever reason he is convinced that he can’t play well on this team and has a shitty attitude about it then he should go play elsewhere.

    • Weird, I saw it differently yesterday. Obviously the whole team was bad for a majority of the game, but I actually thought there were times where Adu looked good. He was playing passes much quicker and actually seemed like he had a plan when he got the ball.
      For Jack, I thought he linked up well and was dropping back to help on the attack. Of course that isn’t his job, but without a partner for him to make runs off of I find Jack is capable of dropping back to link up the attack once in a while.

      • Philly Cheese says:

        When Union goes with only one striker, how can midfielders not be ones who provide linkages? If lone striker is having to come back to midfield to get service, then Adu and Lahoud among others, are not doing their jobs. Adu is regularly stripped of ball or knocked over. Of he can’t take the hits, get him off the field. Shots taken is illustration of how poor moving ball forward is going.

  5. The match as a whole was a tiresome thing to watch, with not many positive things to take home. Freddy looked not half-bad for about 15 minutes, then he was back to looking half-bad for the rest of his [cough cough] 71 minutes. At least we don’t have a prick like Eric Hassli on the roster.
    Is it me or do the MLS uniforms make all the referees look like they are wearing sports bras underneath their jerseys?

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