Photo: Earl Gardner
Philadelphia Union ended a disappointing 2015 campaign with a 1-0 win Sunday over a listless Orlando City SC side. Sebastien Le Toux scored from the penalty spot in the 41st minute, and Andre Blake preserved the win with a series of impressive saves.
The loss dashed Orlando’s extremely slim playoff hopes.
Jim Curtin made three changes to the team that was blown out by Red Bulls last Sunday. Ethan White replaced the suspended Steven Vitoria, Ray Gaddis returned at right back in place of Andrew Wenger, and Eric Ayuk came in for Cristian Maidana, pushing Tranquillo Barnetta into the hole behind C.J. Sapong.
Philadelphia found the game’s first opportunity in the fifth minute. Le Toux played in Barnetta down the left side, and the midfielder fired a hard left-footed shot from 12 yards that Josh Ford — starting in place of the injured Tally Hall — pushed away. Eric Ayuk grabbed hold of the rebound and beat his man to fire a hard shot from the right side that Ford again beat away.
Sapong came close to finding the opener in the 18th minute. Le Toux spotted the striker behind the Orlando back line with a throw from 35 yards out on the left side. Sapong drove toward the visitor’s goal and fired a half volley from eight yards that hit the crossbar and bounced out.
Orlando finally created their first scoring chance in the 35th minute. After the Union failed to clear their lines, Adrian Winter latched onto a bouncing ball and fired a low shot that Andre Blake saved. Orlando put the ball in the net from the ensuing corner, but the goal was called off because referee Chris Penso spotted Seb Hines holding Blake down.
Philadelphia finally took a deserved lead in the 41st minute. Le Toux streaked toward the penalty spot, zipping past Hines as Ayuk readied to play him in from the right. Despite the teenager’s wayward cross, Hines was judged to have dragged down Le Toux from behind. The Frenchman dusted himself off and sent Ford the wrong way as he fired high into the right corner from the penalty spot, maintaining a perfect 13 for 13 record from the spot. (The Union as a club are 20/22.)
After a slow start to the second half, Orlando finally created the first chance in the 60th minute. Cyle Larin fired a low shot from 20 yards that Blake blocked with his right hand.
Sapong then had a window to double the Union lead in the 63rd minute. Streaking down the left side, the big striker turned his man and fired a hard shot from close range that was blocked away. Barnetta was open in the center of the box, but Sapong failed to spot the run.
Blake again came to the Union’s rescue in the 79th minute. Former Union man Pedro Ribeiro used a hesitation move to shake free of Ethan White in the box and fired across his body toward the far post. Blake was tight to the near post, but sprung to his left to push the shot away.
Vincent Nogueira had a good chance to pad the Union’s lead in the 81st minute. Barnetta made one of many strong runs down the left side and squared a pass for Fernando Aristeguieta, who laid off a soft feed for Nogueira near the top of the Orlando box. The midfielder took the shot first time but dragged his effort just wide of the far post.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men after Crisitan Higuita was shown a second yellow card in the 86th minute. The midfielder’s physical play had been overlooked for most of the match, but he picked up two cards in 14 minutes once it was clear Orlando’s playoff hopes were gone.
Orlando threw numbers forward in the closing stages of the match, but Andre Blake was hardly troubled and Philadelphia held on to secure a win in their final match of 2015, meaning the squad finished with one more win than the 2010 and 2012 sides.
Andre Blake, Ray Gaddis, Ethan White, Richie Marquez, Fabinho (Warren Creavalle 86′), Michael Lahoud, Tranquillo Barnetta, Vincent Nogueira, Eric Ayuk (Fernando Aristeguieta 67′), CJ Sapong
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Brian Carroll, Andrew Wenger, Conor Casey, Cristian Maidana
Orlando City SC
Josh Ford, Luke Boden, Aurelien Colin, Seb Hines, Adrian Winter (Rafael Ramos 62′), Kaka, Carlos Rivas, Cristian Higuita, Brek Shea (Pedro Ribeiro 76′), Darwin Ceren, Cyle Larin
Unused Subs: David Mateos, Servando Carrasco, Eric Avila, Lewis Neal
PHI: Sebastien Le Toux — 41′ (PK)
PHI: Richie Marquez (foul) — 15′
ORL: Brek Shea (foul) – 20′
ORL: Darwin Ceren (foul) – 35′
ORL: Luke Boden (foul) – 42′
ORL: Adrian Winter (foul) – 55′
PHI: Ray Gaddis (foul) – 59′
ORL: Rafael Ramos (foul) – 70′
ORL: Cristian Higuita (foul) – 72′
ORL: Cristian Higuita (foul – second yellow) – 86′
ORL: Kaka (unsportsmanlike conduct) – 86′
PHI: Vincent Nogueira (foul) – 88′
|Philadelphia Union||Orlando City SC|
|6||Shots on Target||4|
|2||Shots off Target||3|
|49.4%||Duels Won %||50.6%|