CHESTER, Pa. – Not even a new head coach could stop Toronto FC’s slide.
Fueled by a goal from Conor Casey and another big game from the red-hot Sebastien Le Toux, the Philadelphia Union spoiled Greg Vanney’s coaching debut with a 1-0 win over 10-man Toronto on Wednesday night at PPL Park.
Toronto, who replaced Ryan Nelson with Vanney after a 3-0 loss to the Revolution on Saturday, are now winless in their last five games and have been shut out in their last two.
Zac MacMath, back in net after being benched for the last two games, finished with three saves for his fourth shutout of the season. Joe Bendik made six saves for Toronto (9-10-6), who are now tied with the hard-charging Union (8-9-9) with 33 points in the fight for an Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Just two minutes after Bendik made a huge stop on an Amobi Okugo header, the Union finally broke the scoreless deadlock in the 55th minute.
After Cristian Maidana, who had missed the last five games with a hamstring injury, sprung Le Toux free down the wing, Le Toux played a perfect cross that Casey ran onto on stride and one-timed past a helpless Bendik.
The goal was the seventh of the season for Casey and the sixth assist for Le Toux, who also leads the Union with 11 goals.
Two minutes after that, MacMath made a monster save on a wide-open shot from Gilberto from close range to preserve the shutout.
Toronto’s comeback hopes took a turn for the worse in the 77th minute when Le Toux singlehandedly drew a straight red card on Ashtone Morgan.
After blocking a ball from Nick Hagglund, Le Toux outran the entire Toronto defense to get the ball, only to have Morgan drag him down from behind to thwart the breakaway and head to the locker room for an early shower.
Bendik made a nice save on Le Toux’s ensuing free kick, but the Union had most of the scoring chances from there, including another well-taken free kick from Le Toux in stoppage time.
The Union’s biggest chance in the first half came when Bendik dove to stop a Casey strike from inside the box in the 15th minute. Philly also had six corner kicks before the break, but couldn’t do much with any of them.
Toronto didn’t have a single corner kick or a shot in target in the first half, but they still managed to generate a few dangerous chances.
MacMath came off of his line very alertly to thwart a couple of breakaway attempts from Dominic Oduro. And after Maurice Edu was whistled for a yellow card just outside the center of the box in the 33rd minute, Okugo blocked a low free kick from Michael Bradley and then cleared away any danger.
Toronto FC and the Union resume their unusual home-and-home series with a game at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon (2 pm ET, Univision Deportes).
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Sebastien Le Toux||The Frenchman was imperious, spraying smart passes and making smart runs. Impressive chemistry with Conor Casey.|
|2||Cristian Maidana||The Argentine produced some of the slickest touches of the evening, and one of them set the stage for Casey's winner.|
TFC still had a chance to steal points right up to the very end, and Bendik's saves were the main reason.