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Union fall to Orlando and snap Subaru win streak

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On a cold, rainy, foggy Saturday night, the home field advantage finally ran out. The Philadelphia Union fell at home to the Orlando City SC Lions 2-1 to snap the Union’s 24 game regular season unbeaten streak in Subaru Park. Martin Ojeda had a hand in both Orlando goals and Andrés Perea scored the goal for the Union who were missing several starters who were away with their national teams for the March FIFA international window. 

The Lions jumped on the boys in blue right away in the 2nd minute when Mauricio Pereyra sent a high arcing rainbow pass from midfield finding Ojeda at the top of the box to fire a shot into the bottom right corner of the net for Orlando’s first goal. A few minutes later in the 9th minute Ojeda sent a through ball up to Iván Angulo who sent one past Joe Bendik from the center of the box to put Orlando up 2-0. The Union countered in the 17th minute when Joaquín Torres sent a cross from the right side to Andrés Perea in the box who hit the post from close range but got his own rebound and planted it in the right side of the net. A would-be tying goal in the 23rd minute by Mikael Uhre was quickly disallowed as Uhre was offside. In the 37th minute Torres was fouled just outside the box setting up a free kick for Jack Elliott which sailed high over the goal, leaving a halftime score of Orlando ahead 2-1. 

In the second half, the pace slowed down as it started to rain again. Orlando had a chance in the 61st minute as Angulo had a breakaway and took a shot from the left side of the box which just beat the outstretched fingers of Joe Bendik but curled just outside the right post. Union coach Jim Curtin sent in fresh legs in the 72nd minute hoping for a spark, subbing in Jesus BuenoNathan Harriel, and Matt Real for Uhre, Olivier Mbaizo, and Leon Flach. The fresh legs did help set up a chance for Ale Bedoya in the 75th minute after Kai Wagner dropped a pass into center of the box, the captain sent a header towards the top middle of the goal but Orlando goalie Mason Stajduhar was able to knock it over the crossbar to stop what would have been the game tying goal. Down the stretch multiple Orlando players went down for injuries and cramps from the cold and had to be subbed out which provided a silver lining of killing off some clock. Wagner had some choice words for a group of Lions during one of these stoppages in the 88th minute, earning a Yellow Card for his frustrations boiling over as time ticked away in the first Union regular season loss at Subaru Park in 18 months. 

In the postgame press conference, Jim Curtin normally starts his opening statement by thanking the fans, but he started off this one with an apology to those fans. “It’s a feeling that we haven’t had in this building in 20+ games. Losing at home is not something we’re comfortable with, it feels strange…We let ourselves down as a team conceding two goals early. That’s unacceptable for us, especially in this building.” 

Curtin acknowledged the frustration with the inconsistent play in this game and so far this season:

“Not us, not good enough, and I think we know that. I promise our fans this group will have a response and get things right starting with Kansas City and then obviously we’re going to need them against a good Atlas team here in the Champions League. It’s early, it’s five games in, we’re pissed, and we’re going to get better.” 

However, Curtin did end the press conference on a positive note. “There’s still no lack of effort from the group. They put everything into the game. They gave everything, we’re short handed, we’re down quite a few guys. Once we get everyone back, I think we’re going to get on a little run here.”

News and notes:

  • Julian Carranza missed the match with a red card suspension from the last game against CF Montreal.
  • Jose Martinez and Daniel Gazdag were with their national teams along with several reserve players. With Andre Blake still out with a groin injury, the Union were down four starters and had only four reserves available on their bench. 
  • Mikael Uhre played through an illness before coming out of the game in the 72nd minute. Coach Curtin joked about the dearth of available players saying, “The only worse thing would have been if Jakob Glesnes’ wife went into labor. That would have been really interesting today. It didn’t happen, but I expected it to.”
  • This was the first regular season loss for the Union at Subaru Park since September 3, 2021 against New England. The 24 game unbeaten streak does not include the playoffs and the infamous 2021 Eastern Conference Final loss to NYCFC amid a Covid outbreak which left the team even more short handed than they were tonight. 
  • The Union’s next match is at home against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday April 1 at 7:30pm. Orlando City SC plays next at home against Nashville FC also on April 1. All MLS matches are streamed on Apple TV+. 

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