Union

Union remain winless after surrendering 3 unanswered in loss to Timbers

Union remain winless after surrendering 3 unanswered in loss to Timbers

BOX SCORE

CHESTER, Pa. -- Coming home after playing three of their first four games on the road was supposed to be performance therapy for the winless Union. Instead, it was more of the same.

Richie Marquez gave the hosts hope but the Portland Timbers countered with three unanswered goals to take down the befuddled Union, 3-1, Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium.

"It's a tough time right now," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "We have to find a way to fight and stick together and turn things around. It takes one win to get back on track. We have quality in our group. There is belief in our group and it's just a tough time right now, we have to turn it around."

It was the Union's third-consecutive defeat, keeping them at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Union are also now winless in their last 13 games dating back to Aug. 27, 2016, when they defeated Sporting Kansas City. Jim Curtin's club moves to 0-3-2 on the season, while the Timbers move to an impressive 4-1-1.

"I'm not scared of it because I still believe in the team," Curtin said when asked about his job security. "I believe in the group. You can put it on me, that's fine. I take the blame. It's our job to stick together as a team, continue to work hard and bounce back from this. The only way you get out of it is to win a game."

The situation was optimistic for the Union early in the first half. Earning a corner in the 26th minute, Haris Medunjanin's line drive cleared a mass of bodies before finding the head of Marquez for the 1-0 Union advantage.

Marquez, who suffered a concussion last weekend against D.C. United, was questionable for the match. It was his first goal of the season.

"It was a credit to Haris' ball," Marquez said. "It was a great ball into the box and I was just able to get there and head it in."

However, that optimism was short-lived. Darlington Nagbe tied the game at one less than 10 minutes later when he moved through multiple defenders before surprising Andre Blake with a savable outside-the-box shot that trickled inside the left post.

"Sometimes, bounces don't go your way," Union right back Keegan Rosenberry said. "They're one of the highest scoring teams in the league, they got a lot of good attacking pieces. We knew that going into it was gonna be a tough challenge to prevent them from scoring."

Owning momentum, the Timbers claimed the lead midway through the second half when a Diego Valeri free kick curled into the box and off the head of Roy Miller for the 2-1 advantage. Fanendo Adi scored a penalty kick in the waning minutes, silencing the already paltry Union home crowd to make it a 3-1 final.

"We have to stick together through the tough times," Curtin said. "Keeping shutouts at home is something we take up pride in and we came up small tonight in that regard. We're not giving up a ton of shots on goal, but we are giving up big chances and we are giving up goals and it’s a problem."

Union reward Andre Blake with multi-year extension

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Union reward Andre Blake with multi-year extension

Updated 4:52 p.m.

Andre Blake will backstop the Union into the future.

The 27-year-old goalkeeper inked a multi-year extension Wednesday. The deal is expected to make Blake one of the highest paid goalkeepers in MLS and was completed using Targeted Allocation Money. 

Further details were not released.

“I am ready to lead,” Blake said. “I’ll definitely try to lead by my performance on the field and the way I carry myself off the field.”

While the extension was a no-brainer for the Union’s on-field success, the move was also an important one off the field. Historically, the club is known for its roster turnover and lack of continuity. Keeping Blake on the books for years to come gives the Union a well-respected face of the franchise that fans can appreciate. 

“It is a priority for us to build and secure the foundation of the Philadelphia Union, and Andre is as big a part of that foundation as any player,” Union sporting director Earnie Stewart said. “Ensuring he will be here for years to come is an important step for our club. We’re delighted to sign him to a new multi-year contract and would like to thank him for his dedication and hard work.”

Blake, a former first-overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft and 2016 MLS All-Star, earned the 2016 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honor and claimed the runner-up spot for the award in 2017. He has proven himself to be one of the most exciting and productive goalkeepers in MLS, with 220 saves and 17 shutouts over 65 career matches.

Because of that success, and his heroics, while captaining the Jamaican National Team, Blake is viewed as someone who could transition to a European club. But despite the prospects and rumors, the Union claim there has never been a serious offer for the goalkeeper, making this extension a possibility.

“Right now my main focus is Philadelphia,” said Blake, who has never shied away from his interest in a European move. “I’m not worried about the future. I’m gonna live in the now and continue to work hard and make my performance speak for itself.”

Union's schedule sets team up for hot start

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Union's schedule sets team up for hot start

The Union’s 2018 season schedule was officially released Thursday and it revealed an advantageous start for the club.

After opening their season against the New England Revolution on March 3, the Union will have a week off before hosting the Columbus Crew on March 17. The club then visits the Colorado Rapids on March 31 but returns home to face the San Jose Earthquakes and Orlando City on April 7 and 13.

Five of the Union’s first seven games will be at Talen Energy Stadium, setting them up for important early success, as the team was an impressive 10-4-3 at home last season but went just 1-10-6 on the road.

But the Union’s early fortune quickly turns with five of their next seven games on the road. The team kicks off that crucial run with a three-game road trip starting on May 4 against the reigning MLS champion Toronto FC, and finishing against the Crew and Montreal Impact. That five-in-seven road set also includes the New York Red Bulls and a visit to the irreplicable home confines of Atlanta United.

Notable matches for the Union include the first-ever clash with expansion side LAFC at the freshly built Banc of California Stadium on June 30 and the Union’s first visit to D.C. United’s brand-new Audi Field (expected to open in June). The Union face the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at CenturyLink Field. Minnesota United (2017 expansion team) will make its first-ever visit to Philadelphia on Oct. 6.

As far as national exposure, the Union will be shown on ESPN twice, April 14 vs. Orlando City and Sept. 23 vs. Sporting Kansas City, and on Unimas once on April 28 against D.C. United.