Connect with us

Brotherly Game

Union come up short bouncing back from disastrous first half in 3-2 loss to Seattle



Second Half Comeback Falls Short

From maybe the most disastrous half of soccer they’ve played at home this decade to a second half that made fans scurrying for the exits reconsider, the Philadelphia Union’s resumed game against Seattle Sounders Tuesday night had a distinct Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde feel to it.

Mr. Hyde reared his ugly head just seven minutes into the restarted match when Raúl Ruidíaz pounced on a mishandled backpass near the center circle and caught Oliver Semmle off his line for the opener (officially in the 13th minute of the game started and rained out way back on March 9).

Nine minutes later, Obed Vargas – moments after a high elbow on Gazdag – beat Semmle with a low curling shot inside the back post to double the lead. Clumsy defense by Olivier Mbaizo then led to a penalty on Vargas that made it 3-0 on the Ruidíaz penalty in the 37th minute.

Just like that, the team that hadn’t lost a regular season home game in more than a year before Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake was staring at the first two-game home losing streak since 2021 and first loss at home to Seattle since the 2014 U.S. Open Cup final. And it wasn’t even halftime.

Stunned and in extremely unfamiliar territory, the never-say-die Union wasn’t ready to wave the white flag and the Dr. Jekyll side of their personality started to shine through with some bright attacking moments into first half stoppage time.

The brightest of the attacks came in the 4th minute of stoppage time when Mikael Uhre found space down the left flank and played the ball into Julian Carranza who stepped back to the ball and one-touched it to Gazdag in front of goal. It looked like the moment for both Gazdag to become the all-time Union leading goal-scorer and start the long way back into the game but Andrew Thomas was quick off his line to deny the opportunity.

The Union continued to look threatening through the 9th minute of stoppage time but Seattle – owning just one win on the season coming in – was able to show some resolve and keep the score 3-0.

That a comeback would be coming in the second half should’ve been expected by anyone who has watched the Union play this season.

Substitutes aided in that resurgence too with Kai Wagner coming in to push Nathan Harriel to the right, Alejandro Bedoya protecting Jose Martinez from getting a yellow and Jack McGlynn spelling a rusty Jesus Bueno. Head coach Jim Curtin’s moves proved to be just what his side needed as they continued to build on the momentum from late in the first half and get numbers into the box.

McGlynn was the first to fire home a salvo when he guided a laser past Thomas off a cleared corner kick in the 55th minute. Like a buzzsaaw, the second followed quickly after when Quinn Sullivan lined up a long diagonal cross and found the head of Gazdag for his 57th career Union goal (all competitions). It was a great moment on a night that felt just a half hour earlier like a lost cause. Gazdag was back at the far post to knock in a Sullivan laser minutes later but the flag went up on the would-be equalizer.

An open game the rest of the way, the Sounders had some chances of their own go wanting, leaving the door open for the Union but the comeback that came oh so close – Carranza headed a Sullivan cross off the crossbar in the 85th minute for the game’s last best chance – fizzled short and the Union are left now to contemplate what’s gone wrong the last two games as they prepare for a DC United team that has been oh so good to the Union in recent years.

If you’re going to have a two-game home losing streak, April is the time to do it but the cracks in the defense continue to be a concern even with the attack clicking and Gazdag in peak 2022 form. The Union are tied for fifth in the league in goals scored with 17 but have just a +3 goal differential because they’ve conceded 14 times, which is already more than half the goals they conceded in their record-setting 2022 season.

The DC United game is slated for 7:30 p.m. Saturday night at Audi Field. A two-game homestand with Orlando City on the 11th and New York City FC on the 14th will follow.


Matthew Ralph is the managing editor of Philadelphia Soccer Now / Brotherly Game. He's covered soccer at all levels for many years in the Philadelphia region and has also written for, NPSL, PrepSoccer and other publications. He lives with his wife and two young children in Broomall, Pa., but grew up in South Jersey and is originally from Kansas.

Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

Be the First to Know When Philadelphia Soccer News Happens!

Sign-up now to get all of our stories sent directly to your inbox, as soon as they're published.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.