CHESTER, Pa. — Fafa Picault had the ball at his feet.
Shielding himself from two Toronto FC defenders at the top of the box, Picault, looking for the equalizer, took a touch, stepped inside and launched a right-footed rocket that beat Alex Bono before carving in and ricocheting off the crossbar.
“That’s a shot I’m pretty good for — cut in and bend it back post,” said Picault, who has one goal on the year but has been one of the Union's most active attacking players. “It goes in a lot, sometimes it doesn’t go in. Today, it didn’t go in. It’s unlucky honestly.”
It summed up a difficult night for the Union, who were blanked by Bono and Toronto FC, 2-0, on Friday at Talen Energy Stadium (see observations). They outshot the visitors, 14-12, took the 6-2 advantage in corners and went 16-7 in crosses. It didn’t matter.
“I think we definitely played better soccer,” Union left back Ray Gaddis said. “We had some good performances on the field, we hit the crossbar, we had more shots than they did. It didn’t fall our way.”
Lack of finish has been a running theme for the 2018 Union. The club began the season with six goals in its first nine games, but saw an uptick with nine goals in its next four. But after Friday, the bad-luck Union seem to have returned.
“It’s a matter of putting it in the back of the net,” Gaddis said, whose club also flubbed a pair of breakaways in the first half. “We created a lot of chances. To see the team go forward and create, it’s good. We have to translate them into goals. It was a good evening.”
While the Union were without Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin, which forced Union manager Jim Curtin into moving offensive catalyst Borek Dockal back into more of a free-range midfield position, their producers weren’t able to produce.
C.J. Sapong, who has one goal in his last 11 starts, was kept without a shot attempt. Same with Dockal and Marcus Epps on the right wing. But Curtin didn’t see an issue with the effort.
“Soccer can be a cruel game at times,” Curtin said. “You look at missing your top two players, starting the way we did, creating a ton of chances in the first half, being aggressive. We put a very attack-minded lineup on the field and the guys did everything to create chances in the first half. We just weren’t clinical.”
The good news for the Union is they’ll have time to reset. Thanks to the World Cup break, they get over two weeks away from MLS action before facing the Vancouver Whitecaps at home on June 23.
It’s exactly what they need to jump-start their attack once again.
“We’ve had a lot of games, a lot traveling,” Picault said. “Now’s a chance for us to regroup, recharge and get ready to come back.”