Toronto FC ends Philadelphia Union’s five-game unbeaten run

Toronto FC Alejandro Pozuelo

Toronto FC defeated the Philadelphia Union after a strong second half Saturday night. This is Toronto’s second straight game and wins at Hartford, Connecticut.

In those wins, Toronto beat the Columbus Crew SC and the Union, two of the top four teams in MLS.

Three Keys to the Game

Philadelphia Union Missed Chances

The Union started the game on a positive start. Sergio Santos scored the opening goal in just the first five minutes. Omar Gonzalez made a big defensive error and was unable to clear the ball. This allowed Santos to get past the Toronto defense and shoot the ball past Quentin Westberg. It was an early 0-1 lead for the Union.

Santos got another chance to score in the 14-minute but missed the net. In the 81-minute, Monteiro, who had the ball, made a mistake and did not shoot. As a result, Monteiro passed the ball. It was almost intercepted, but Kacper Przybyłko got the ball and shot. The chance was easily saved by Westberg.

The Unions’ last chance of the game was in the 90+4 minute of the second half. Jamiro Monteiro’s right footed shot from the centre of the box missed the net. This play was assisted by Mark McKenzie.

Quentin Westberg Had a Big Night for Toronto FC

Westberg deserves a lot of credit. Yes, Toronto had more shots than the Union. However, the Union had more shots on goal despite having only 42 percent of the possession. It was also hard for Westberg to stop Santos’ goal in the 5th minute.

Westberg’s best save came in the 30th minute. Monteiro’s shot from just outside of the box was saved by a diving Westberg. As a result, the ball hit the post. The Union had a second chance which was also saved by Westberg. However, the second shot did not count, as the play was called offside.

Przybyłko had his shot stopped in the 81st minute. Then, he made a cross in the 90+1 minute of play to Alejandro Bedoya. However, Westberg was up to the mark and saved the shot at the centre of the goal.

Strong Second Half for Toronto FC

This was the biggest reason why Toronto FC won the game. Tony Gallagher who came as a substitute for Justin Morrow made his mark. In the 58th minute, his terrific cross-pass was met with a terrific header from Ayo Akinola. The shot got past Union’s goalkeeper Andre Blake. This was Akinola’s seventh goal for Toronto. The game was tied at 1-1.

Toronto kept attacking, as Pablo Piatti’s right-footed shot was wide in the 60th minute. In the 71st minute, Toronto made a lot of good passes. This resulted in Piatti getting another chance. However, this shot also missed the net. Alejandro Pozuelo, Richie Laryea and Marco Delgado all played a role in Piatti getting a chance to score in the 71st minute.

Then in the 76th minute, Toronto scored the game-winning goal, as Piatti took the cross. His cross was passed by a header from Chris Mavinga to Pozuelo. Pozuelo made a terrific header to score the game-winning goal past Blake. This was Pozuelo’s fourth-straight game with a goal.

Finally, with that goal, he tied Akinola for the team-lead in goals with seven. As a result, Toronto took the 2-1 lead and ended up with the victory.

Piatti had another chance to score in the 85th minute with a Pozuelo pass. However, the shot missed the net.

Other Factors in the Game

The Union played good defense in the first half. It was like how Toronto played in the first half against the Crew. This included not allowing Laryea to get comfortable in the first half. Furthermore, the Union players in the first half were there at the right times to clear balls and prevent Toronto from scoring.

However, the Union did not have much possession of the ball. It looked like the Union became too-defensive-minded after scoring the opening goal. Toronto had 58 percent of the ball and controlled the game. This played a big role in Toronto having a big second half.

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union Game Overview

Injuries to Jozy Altidore and Justin Morrow

Both injuries are concerning for Toronto FC. Jozy Altidore got injured early in the second half in what seems to be an injury in the back of his leg. Furthermore, Toronto head coach Greg Vanney revealed on TSN that Morrows’ calf was tightening up before the match. When he felt it got too tight, he left late in the first half.

Of the two players, Morrow might be the injury to worry about more. Yes, it is unfortunate that Altidore has been injured. However, he has been having injury issues for awhile. Furthermore, Toronto made the MLS Cup Final in 2019 without the services of Altidore. Lastly, Akinola has emerged as that player that could eventually replace Altidore as Toronto’s main striker.

Game Review and What is Next?

Pozuelo is making a name for himself as a possible MLS Most Valuable Player in 2020. He scored seven goals and is leading MLS with nine assists. Gallagher also made an impact assisting in Akinola’s goal that tied the game up. They also end a five-game unbeaten streak of the Union.

As a result, Toronto FC is second in the Supporters’ Shield race. They are tied with the Crew with most points in the Eastern Conference in MLS. However, the Crew has a better goal differential than Toronto. As a result, the Crew remains as the Supporters’ Shield leaders in the 2020 MLS season. Moreover, Toronto FC is undefeated at Hartford with two wins against two of the top four teams in MLS.

Toronto will play against the New England Revolution on Wednesday and then against FC Cincinnati on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Union will also face Cincinnati, but on Wednesday. Then on Sunday, the Union will face the Montreal Impact.

 

 

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