Andre Blake’s return to the lineup resulted in a clean sheet, but the Philadelphia Union attack sputtered yet again in a scoreless draw with winless Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night in Chester.
A week after seeing their 13-game win streak and 24-game unbeaten streak at home wiped out by Orlando City, the Union attack struggled to create chances and finished the night with a .7 expected goals to Kansas City’s .5.
“It’s great to have Andre back, great to get a clean sheet but we know we need to be more dangerous at home,” head coach Jim Curtin said post-game. “I want us to be great, I want us to take risks, I want us to be relentless.”
On paper, the game looked like a deserved draw with the two teams pretty even in just about every category. The passing accuracy for the boys and blue (71.2 percent) though didn’t pass either the eye test or the stat one. The Union had more of the ball and didn’t do enough with it when they had it.
“We’re not sharp and I think that is clear for everybody to see,” Curtin said. “The first half in particular there were unforced errors where it looks like we’re about to have a good attack and then all of a sudden we almost pass directly to the other team and it’s very uncharacteristic of us and leads to chances for Kansas City.”
Mikael Uhre, who is in a three-way tie for the team lead in goals with two (Daniel Gazdag has the two PK goals and Julian Carranza also has two), acknowledged that the attack is in a funk.
“We’re working and doing everything we can to get back in sync because we know what we can do when we are on the same page,” Uhre said. “Last year everything clicked, everything went into goal; we just needed to hit the ball, then the ball went in and right now it feels like those good situations we have it just misses that last little bit, that piece of magic we had most of last season.”
Curtin said the slow start only adds to the pressure on a team that came in with such lofty expectations after nearly winning it all last November.
“We have to get more in the attack,” he said. “I think that will come but we also need to maybe feel a little pressure. I think pressure is good.”
While the offense struggled, the defense seemed to lock back into place after conceding two early ones to Orlando a week ago. Even with Kai Wagner out with a hamstring injury, the back four was solid and limited Kansas City’s chances. Jakob Glesnes had a man of the match performance ensuring Blake wasn’t tested much in his return. Matt Real came in for Wagner and didn’t give up much defensively.
“I think Jakob was excellent,” Curtin said. “But we don’t want our center backs to be our creators and be our best guys on the night.”
The point gives the defending Eastern Conference Champions seven through the first six matches of the season, just a point above the playoff line in eighth place.
“I’m not happy with a point at home ever,” Curtin said. “For us a point at home is two points dropped.”