In one of the biggest games in franchise history, the Philadelphia Union scored an impressive goal off of a corner kick.
They needed at least one more.
Despite taking a staggering 13 corner kicks and putting 17 attempts on goal, the Union dropped a tough 2-1 decision to the Columbus Crew on Saturday in a showdown between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.
With the result, the Crew (11-7-7) pushed their lead to six points over the Union (8-6-10), whose winless streak extended to five games.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Union midfielder Veljko Paunovic said. “We just missed them. We showed we really wanted to tie and win the game. This is very hard for us. We’re very disappointed that we lost. I think we didn’t deserve to lose this game.”
Paunovic did his part to try to help the Union escape Columbus with at least a point. In the 42nd minute, Union midfielder Keon Daniel curled a terrific corner over Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer to the back post, where Paunovic was waiting, unmarked, to tie the game at 1-1.
Paunovic was impressed with the team’s strategy of pushing forward and drawing so many corner kicks, but was understandably upset those attempts didn’t materialize into more goals — scoring from set pieces has been a season-long problem for Philly.
“I think we have very good guys like [Sébastien] Le Toux, like Daniel taking them,” Paunovic said. “We just need to score more goals in that part of the game.”
Making matters more frustrating was that Columbus scored two goals on just two shots on target, the second coming on an Andrés Mendoza penalty kick after a controversial handball in the box on Philly defender Sheanon Williams.
“I think the referee changed the game,” Union striker Le Toux said. “We tried to come back, but unfortunately we didn’t tonight.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.