Ilsinho

Union rest starters ahead of U.S. Open Cup semifinal, pay the price against Portland Timbers

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Union rest starters ahead of U.S. Open Cup semifinal, pay the price against Portland Timbers

BOX SCORE 

PORTLAND, Ore. — Diego Valeri and Dairon Asprilla each scored on a penalty kick, and the Portland Timbers extended their unbeaten streak to 15 games with a 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night.

Portland improved to 10-0-5 since its last loss on April 8 at Orlando. The undefeated run matches the club's MLS record of 15 games set in 2013.

Philadelphia rested many of its starters — including captain Alejandro Bedoya — in anticipation of Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup semifinal.

David Guzman also scored for the Timbers on a header in the 87th minute.

Valeri's penalty came after Philadelphia's Fabinho pulled down Alvas Powell in the 58th minute. Warren Creavalle tripped Valeri in the box for Asprilla's PK in the 84th minute.

It was Portland's first match without Fanendo Adi, who signed with FC Cincinnati this week. Adi, who had been with the Timbers since 2014, scored a late goal that gave Portland a 2-1 victory over Houston last weekend.

FC Cincinnati, currently with the lower-tier USL, will join Major League Soccer as an expansion team next season.

The Timbers were without Sebastian Blanco because of yellow card accumulation. Samuel Armenteros, who was listed as questionable with a sore back, started for Portland.

Bedoya was listed as a sub for the match but entered in the 66th minute after Valeri's goal.

Philadelphia hosts the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Other regular starters who were subs for the game included Hari Mendunjanin, Raymon Gaddis and David Accam. Coach Jim Curtin started forward C.J. Sapong and defender Keegan Rosenberry.

The match was scoreless after the first half. Portland's best chance appeared to be a shot by Andy Polo that sailed just over the goal in the 34th minute. Just before that, Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella lunged to grab Sapong's left-footed shot toward the far post.

Sapong had another opportunity in the opening minute of the second half but Attinella came away with another save.

Mistakes, missed opportunities sink Union in shutout loss to Toronto FC

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Mistakes, missed opportunities sink Union in shutout loss to Toronto FC

BOX SCORE

CHESTER, Pa. — With impact players missing on both sides, Friday’s match at Talen Energy Stadium came down to efficiency in the offensive end. 

Toronto FC won that battle. Pouncing on two defensive-zone mistakes, Jonathan Osorio scored twice as the Union fell, 2-0.

It was the Union’s second consecutive defeat as they fell to 5-7-3. Toronto FC claimed its fourth win of the season, moving its record to 4-7-2. Including the playoffs, the Union haven't defeated Toronto in 10 straight games.

• Without Jozy Altidore and Drew Moor, Toronto FC entered Friday’s match with one win in its last five games and appeared ripe for defeat. But despite the club’s struggles, it forced the Union into playing from behind for nearly the entire contest.

• In the 13th minute, the Union received two chances to take control. First, Fafa Picault was sprung loose into Toronto territory but was stuffed on his breakaway shot that was placed into Alex Bono’s body. Bono finished with the four-save shutout.

• Immediately following that play, as the ball went back down the field, Ilsinho stripped Michael Bradley for a partial breakaway of his own. His shot trickled well wide.

• Those misses would cost the Union (see story), as five minutes later Toronto would capitalize. Osorio slipped between to defenders to accept a sneaky pass from Victor Vazquez. Unlike the Union’s breakaways, Osorio didn’t miss the net to grab the 1-0 Toronto lead.

• It should be noted Ray Gaddis had an impressive game. While also frustrating Sebastian Giovinco, the left back had two shots, one on goal. He was active on the offensive end despite lacking finish.

• The Union were without midfielders Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin as a result of red-card suspensions. In their place, Borek Dockal, normally the center attacking midfielder, moved back to the No. 8 spot for Bedoya, while Warren Creavalle was activated at the No. 6 spot for Medunjanin. Ilsinho moved into the No. 10 spot.

• The Union nearly found an opening in the 58th minute, when Picault cut inside and ripped a right-footed shot from the top of the box. The strong attempt curled in but found the crossbar and ejected out. It’s the closest the Union would come to tying the game in the second half.

• But an egregious Union error would ultimately doom them in the 79th. Keegan Rosenberry’s own-zone throw-in was intercepted by Giovinco at the top of the box. The Italian played it forward to a streaking Osorio for the easy 2-0 Toronto lead. 

• In a surprise move down one, Union manager Jim Curtin tapped Derrick Jones for Marcus Epps in the 69th minute. It was Jones’ first minutes since March 3, when he played five minutes against the New England Revolution. It was just his third appearance in almost a calendar year.

• The Union will have time to think about Friday’s loss. They don’t return to MLS action until June 23, when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Ilsinho gives Union what 'you can't teach' in big win over Fire

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Ilsinho gives Union what 'you can't teach' in big win over Fire

BOX SCORE

CHESTER, Pa. — Facing an irregular and frustrating man-to-man defensive setup, the Union were struggling to break down the Chicago Fire on Wednesday. 

That's until Ilsinho put the team on his back.

One minute before the halftime whistle, the Brazilian claimed possession at the top right of the box. Staring down two Fire defenders, Ilsinho pulled the ball right then yanked it left to split the duo and move inside unimpeded. 

“I can’t coach it,” Union manager Jim Curtin. “You can’t teach it. Certain guys are special in that regard. You know he’s going to snake the ball, and he has an ability to just get defenders’ bodyweight on the wrong foot and make them look foolish.”

With confidence, Ilsinho sent a right-footed rocket shot past Patrick McLain for the 1-0 Union advantage. It changed the match for the hosts, who eventually won, 3-1, at Talen Energy Stadium (see observations).

“I was looking for some situation like that all first half,” said Ilsinho, who has three goals on the season and two in his last three matches. “I’m looking for that ball for the entire 45 minutes and I had one chance in the final minute. I’m so glad to score.”

To make the veteran’s highlight even more impressive, the defenders in his way were Bastian Schweinsteiger and Brandon Vincent — two of the better players on the field for either team. The elastico made the two look like rookies.

“If I said I was surprised, I’d be lying,” Union goalkeeper Andre Blake said. “That’s something he does every day in training. Right now, he’s very confident and helping us in a lot of ways. Hopefully he can keep it going.” 

Union midfielder Borek Dockal would take advantage of the Fire’s forced change in tactics, assisting Cory Burke’s second of the season. Dockal would then find the net on a penalty kick with five minutes remaining. 

“They needed to change how they played,” Dockal said. “In the second half, there was more space to combine the ball. They played something I haven’t seen in maybe 10 years. They played man-to-man defensively, the whole first half. It was a surprise.

“That’s why the goal in the last minute of the first half was so important.”