Union

'Silly goals' have Union defense searching for answers after loss to Whitecaps

'Silly goals' have Union defense searching for answers after loss to Whitecaps

CHESTER, Pa. -- The Union have a defensive problem.

It’s clear, following the club’s 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday (see story), that Jim Curtin’s once defensively stout team has sprung a leak. The Union have allowed nine goals in their last three MLS games.

“It’s a lot [of goals against] and I’m pissed about that,” Curtin, whose club is 1-2-0 since the Copa America break ended, said. “Don’t get me wrong, we’ll get it fixed, but it’s a lot of silly goals.”

The goals allowed, while plentiful, have been preventable. Like on Saturday, when Union goalkeeper Andre Blake bobbled a corner that ended up in his net. That was followed by a turnover in the midfield by Tranquillo Barnetta that left rookie Josh Yaro out to dry on a fast break in the open field.

“It’s preventable for us, as opposed to teams picking us apart with 20 passes at a time and a good finish,” Union full back Keegan Rosenberry said. “This is completely different.”

So, what's the root cause of these preventable goals? Is it the loss of Vincent Nogueira, who left the team three games ago because of health reasons? Is it Barnetta’s move to a more defensive midfield role shaking up the on-field chemistry?

“I probably can’t pinpoint one thing,” Blake said. “I think that some bounces aren’t going our way and the times we blocked the ball before, now we’re blocking and it’s going in. I think it’s one of those phases where you don’t want to think too much about it.”

Whether the Union want to think about it or not, the goals are pouring in. They allowed just 16 in 14 games prior to the Copa America break and nine in three since returning — not a healthy sign for a team clinging to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

“There’s no way we’re happy giving up this many goals,” Blake said. “I think we’re going through a phase and we have to hang tight, stick together and ride out the storm.”

Union come back to beat Atlanta United, move into 1st place in Eastern Conference

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USA Today Images/Derik Hamilton

Union come back to beat Atlanta United, move into 1st place in Eastern Conference

BOX SCORE 

CHESTER, Pa. — Kacper Przybylko and Sergio Santos assisted each other on late goals as the Philadelphia Union beat Atlanta United 3-1 Saturday night to move into first place in the Eastern Conference.

The Union (15-8-6) and Atlanta United (15-10-3) entered the game tied in points atop the conference standings. Atlanta had its four game winning streak snapped.

Przybylko gave Philadelphia a 2-1 lead in the 86th minute, finishing a cross from Santos with a hard shot that beat goalkeeper Brad Guzan inside the near post.

Santos punched home a cross by Przybylko in the 88th minute, capping the scoring.

Josef Martinez gave Atlanta the lead in the second minute of first half stoppage time. He scored in his 13th straight game, extending his MLS record. Martinez got open on a give-and-go with Darlington Nagbe, slipping past the onrushing goalkeeper and tapping it into the empty net.

The Union's Brenden Aaronson tied it at 1 in the 61st minute, scoring on an over-the-top pass by Haris Medunjanin.

Kacper Przybylko stars as Union top D.C. United

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USA Today Images/Bill Streicher

Kacper Przybylko stars as Union top D.C. United

BOX SCORE 

CHESTER, Pa. — Kacper Przybylko had a goal and two assists in a dominant first half and the Philadelphia Union defeated D.C. United 3-1 on Saturday night.

Przybylko scored his 12th goal from point-blank range off a cross from Kail Wagner five minutes in and the Union (14-8-6) were never challenged as they moved within a point of first-place Atlanta.

Brenden Aaronson, who helped set up Przybylko's goal, had the favor returned in the 16th minute. Przybylko slipped the ball down the middle, Aaronson made the turn and then fired from the top of the box for his second goal.

Przybylko made a similar set up for Ilsinho's fifth goal in the 36th minute. Ilsinho took the pass at the top of the box, worked his way through the defense before finding room to score.

DC United (10-10-9) didn't have a shot in the first half. Luciano Acosta bulled his way through the defense for his sixth goal in the 56th minute. United turned the pressure up in the second half with four shots on target but remained in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.