HARRISON, N.J. — The shine of the Philadelphia Union clinching a home playoff game wore off in less than 24 hours.
Jim Curtin’s side started its three-game road swing with a 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls that was disappointing to say the least.
Despite what Curtin said about the club’s performance, it looked disjointed in attack and a major error by Andre Blake allowed the Red Bulls to feel comfortable in defense.
“Some nights you play good soccer and can still lose,” Curtin said. “I thought in the first half we created some good chances.
“The Red Bulls put a lot into the game as well. We missed a few opportunities early to get the lead. We made a mistake on the goal and had plenty of bodies in the box to cover. It happens.”
Philadelphia earned 59.9% of the possession and won 3% more duels than the Red Bulls, but it was outshot 17-8, failed to make much out of its seven corners and challenged Luis Robles with three shots on target.
“They scored two goals, we scored zero,” Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin said. “There’s the clear summary of the game today.
“We had our chances, we don’t score, make a mistake with the first goal and then you’re trailing back again. There was no reason for that at all because we controlled the game, we controlled the tempo. When you play away, you need to take your chances, you need to score goals. If you don’t score goals, you keep the other team in the game and they came two times out and scored a goal.”
Even though the Union have erased many memories from the previous nine seasons, it was clear Sunday’s performance replicated the poor showings in big games the club has produced throughout its history.
It followed the same pattern of playing good enough defense, creating minimal scoring opportunities and allowing one mistake to cost the squad a positive result. On Sunday, the error was a slip-up by Blake, who let the ball loose for Tom Barlow to finish in the 32nd minute.
“Yeah, what can I say? It’s just one of those things. I made a big mistake and it cost us the game tonight,” Blake said.
“The ball is slick, the field is slick. I figured it out in the warm-ups. But I’m not going to stand here and make any excuses. I tried to make a safe play on the ball but it’s wet and the ball kept running away from me. I probably should’ve changed my technique, but I didn’t do that in time and as the goalkeeper, I know that’s my job.”
“You make one mistake sometimes and it leads to a goal. It’s the nature of my job, I know it is. As I said before, I know it’s a big mistake and it cost us the game tonight. I’ll take full responsibility for that and I’ll be ready for the next game.”
The loss knocked the Union back to third behind New York City FC and Atlanta United. One of those teams has to drop points or draw during their Wednesday meeting, which kicks off four hours before the Union visit San Jose.
That is about the only saving grace in the Union’s hunt for the best seed possible. First place will be out of reach with a NYCFC victory over the Five Stripes. If the top seed is not attainable, the goal is to take No. 2 in order to get a second home game, but the Union face an uphill climb entering back-to-back road games at San Jose and Columbus.
“We were pushing for first place,” Curtin said. “It’s still possible. New York City has a tough schedule and we play them on the last day, We’re still going to fight for first place. Obviously one and two are the key seeds because then you get the next home game. We have a lot to play for now.
“We can tell how tight it is in the East, in the West, teams are picking up injuries at tough times. A lot of things are changing by the hour, by the minute,” Curtin said. “We’re still a team that can jump up to that two or one seed. We believe that, but it got a little bit tougher tonight.”