The last thing an expansion team—which, by definition, lacks the cohesion and strong mentality that comes with time—wants to do is chase the game. Especially when you just did it a week ago and felt the losing consequences.
“It's the same story over again with an early goal, which we can prevent,” Philadelphia Union head coach Peter Nowak said after the side’s 2-0 loss to Kansas City on Thursday night. “They got a really great shot from Kei Kamara, so, you know, we've been chasing many games [similar to] this. From the first game in Seattle to this game. The red card and another early goal, it just kills us.”
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Kamara’s goal came in the 9th minute. The Union have now given up five goals in the first 15 minutes of games this season.
“We put ourselves behind the eight ball,” captain Danny Califf said. “Then we get a red card, and we didn't come out in the first half with any kind of urgency. We didn't win any second balls. We were punished.”
The Union have played eight of their 12 games so far on the road. With the two-week World Cup break ahead of them, they have time to rest and heal, and prepare for a good stretch of home games, including their next match on June 27th—the opening of PPL Park.
“We're going back home right now, and we're really happy about that,” Nowak said. “We just want to make sure we continue working the way we work. But also, cut down the mistakes and cut these cards and play from the beginning like we did in the second half.”
The positives that the Union will take from the KC match include playing well in the second half and creating a few chances. However, after Michael Orozco Fiscal’s red card, Nowak removed rookie Danny Mwanga in favor of another defender. The move slowed KC’s attack for the most part.
“It was a good effort in the second-half, even being a man down,” Nowak said. “We had a couple good passes together and the flow of the game was pretty good. They saved a couple of good balls in the box; it was just missing the final touch and the execution.”
But still, whether at home or on the road, conceding early goals remains first and foremost on Nowak’s mind. And he has two weeks to work on it.
“We have enough experience and quality in the locker room,” he said. “These youngsters are learning on the job, I'd say, and the most important thing is to believe and continue working like we have in the past three months.”