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Union fall apart late in Chicago, lose again 4-3

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Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union were on the verge of snapping a four game winless streak and salvaging a win for the first time in 47 days until disaster struck late in the match at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Union failed to close out a two goal second half lead allowing three goals in a 10 minute stretch to end the match against fellow bottom dweller in the Eastern Conference table Chicago Fire.

Vibes were high, perhaps the highest they have been in over a month. And then the vibes plummeted. And then when you thought maybe it could not get worse, it did.

Three major defensive breakdowns from the 82nd minute to the 92nd minute left Union fans in shambles.

The match featured Philadelphia on the front foot for much of the first 20 minutes of action. However, Chicago scored the first goal of the match against the run of play in the 30th minute. Maren Halle-Selassle finished a quick transition moment from Chicago that left the Union backline on their heels with little midfield support. Union left back Kai Wagner whiffed on an attempt to deflect a pass and was then late getting back to disrupt the cross attempt that found Halle-Selassle open for the goal.

But Philadelphia bounced back quickly with a goal of their own in the 38th minute. Midfielder Leon Flach blasted a low hit shot towards the center of the box which found an on running Chris Donovan who neatly directed the ball on frame and into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.

Another break fell the Union’s way to end the first half after VAR deemed a challenge by Chicago keeper Chris Brady on the edge of the penalty area against Union right back Nate Harriel to be a foul and a penalty kick for the Union. The review was lengthy, but they got it right and Daniel Gazdag cashed in from the spot. Gazdag’s new club record of 51 MLS goals is severely overshadowed by the defensive lapses that were yet to come.

Before those lapses occurred, Philadelphia were soaring… momentarily.

A 49th minute banger of a goal off the left foot of midfielder Jack McGlynn double-doinked off both posts and into the net following his shot from just atop the box. The celebration that followed seemed to indicate this team may be able to pull themselves out of a seven match winless streak and a more concerning four match losing streak.

Fast forward 32 minutes and then threads began to unravel on that idea.

Chicago’s 82nd from Hugo Cuypers was the result of Philadelphia players ball watching instead of defending on a corner kick. Cuypers was left all alone inside the six-yard box and connected on a headed assist from second half sub Chris Mueller to make it 3-2.

Just seven minutes later, Chicago midfielder Gaston Gimenez was all alone in the box after a failed clearance landed on his left foot for a one-time volleyed shot that left Union keeper Oliver Semmle with no chance at making a save.

And then, the nail in the coffin arrived only three minutes later.

Cuypers bagged a brace after the backline once again fell asleep leaving him all alone, this time at the back post on the end of a well-placed headed pass from Haile-Selassie.

The last 10 minutes of the match seemed cruel. But it serves as a prime example of what the Union defense has been unable or perhaps unwilling to do: buckle down and close out a game. Too much ball watching and finger pointing have left Philadelphia in dire straights. Another poor performance Wednesday night, and one of this fashion could threaten to tear this club apart even more.

Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

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