The Philadelphia Union spent the past two weeks of training working on their finishing.
But Saturday in Toronto, the Union learned you can’t finish what you don’t start.
In another mostly disappointing performance, Philly mustered only one shot on target – which, credit to them, resulted in a goal – in a 1-1 draw with last-place Toronto FC.
Afterwards, Union manager John Hackworth bemoaned his team’s performance, especially in a lifeless first half.
“We didn’t play very well today,” Hackworth said. “It might have been one of our poorest first-half performances this year. It’s a little bit frustrating because it felt like our team was ready to play much better than that after the break; we had a good two weeks of training. But you have to give credit to Toronto because they made it very difficult on us.”
Although the Union only got off three shots and didn’t force Toronto goalkeeper Milos Kocic to make any saves, they did a little bit better in the second half, following a stern talking-to from Hackworth during the halftime break.
Early in the second half, Philly controlled possession and strung many passes together in the attacking third, but didn’t have much to show for it. Later in the second half, Hackworth dipped into his offensive bag of goodies, bringing on strikers Antoine Hoppenot and Chandler Hoffman, as well as playmaking midfielder Roger Torres.
And it was all three of those subs that created the run-up to Philly’s only goal, with Torres making a run into the box and leaving it for Hoffman, who passed it out wide to Hoppenot.
Hoppenot then delivered a low cross that defender Sheanon Williams put home to tie the game at 1-1 in the 85th minute. But the Union couldn’t get another goal to snap their winless streak, which is now at seven games.
“In the second half, it had to be different and I think we did that,” Williams said. “Even at the end, we thought that we could steal the game, so I think we have to be happy about the second-half performance and that the turnaround was a lot better than the first half.”
Unfortunately for the Union, soccer games are two halves. And for the second time this season, they left Toronto with a feeling that they could have played a lot better, from start to finish.
“The game was played on their terms and not the way we wanted to play,” Hackworth said. “That’s a classic battle in soccer. You want to try and dictate rhythm, and we certainly didn’t do that today. Toronto did.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.