Philadelphia Union score early and often in 4-2 win over outmatched Toronto FC

CHESTER, Pa. — Toronto FC took a step backwards Saturday, outhustled and outplayed in a 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Union.

Philadelphia led 2-0 after 20 minutes and 4-0 after 56 minutes before taking its foot off the gas in a game that was nowhere near as close as the score line might suggest.

“They came out with more intensity. We were second to every ball,” said Toronto coach Bob Bradley. “We made some bad mistakes. ? We dug ourselves a big hole.

“I thought we had moments in the second half that got better but, look, we’ve got to look hard at ourselves because the way we started the game and most of the first half wasn’t good enough.”

Danish international forward Mikael Uhre scored a hat trick and the Union got an own goal from Toronto defender Lukas MacNaughton on a wet night at Subarau Park.

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“Overall we let it get away from us in the first half,” said Toronto midfielder Jonathan Osorio. “It was just a lack of intensity from the team. We know we have to be better.”

The lone bright spot for Toronto (1-2-6) was a 66th-minute goal by Lorenzo Insigne, marking his first start since suffering a groin injury in the season opener. Osorio found him behind the Philadelphia defence and the Italian star curled a stylish shot past Andre Blake to make it 4-1.

Richie Laryea added a consolation goal in stoppage time, cracking a shot past Blake.

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Alejandro Bedoya, Julian Carranza and Daniel Gazdag each had two assists for Philadelphia (3-4-2) which snapped a five-game winless streak in league play.

Toronto (1-2-6) had its seven-game unbeaten run (1-0-6) snapped in suffering its first loss since a 3-2 defeat at D.C. United in the Feb. 25 season opener.

But Toronto was second-best from the get-go. It was one-way traffic with Philadelphia outshooting Toronto 15-2 (4-1 in shots on target) in the first half.

Philadelphia has won its last four home games against Toronto while outscoring TFC 16-2.

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The Union have been inconsistent in league play this season, juggling the demands of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League with a semifinal against Los Angeles FC looming Wednesday. Against TFC, however, they looked like the team that finished runner-up to LAFC in the Supporters’ Shield race last season.

“I though we played our best 45 minutes of the season in that first half. I think it looked like us,” said Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin.

“The challenge for the guys was playing a complete 90 (minutes),” he added. “I think this was our closest to a complete 90 but I still see a lot of room for improvement. It’s always disappointing to concede goals. Obviously Insigne is a guy who can make a play and he scored a pretty special goal. But the one at the end irritates me still.”

Severe weather in the area promoted a “shelter-in-place” mandate before the game. Fans were urged to remain in their cars until the order was lifted with those already in Subaru Park asked to remain on the concourse. The order was lifted about 40 minutes before kickoff.

It was 16 degrees and raining at kickoff, with a severe thunderstorm watch in effect.

Insigne and fellow Italian Federico Bernardeschi both started for Toronto for the first time since the season opener. Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty slotted into TFC’s starting lineup with Jordan Perruzza and Alonso Coello dropping to the bench.

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Insigne, Bernardeschi and Marshal-Rutty formed Toronto’s attack but had little chance to do much with Philadelphia firmly in control.

Insigne returned last week, making a 14-minute came off the bench in the 2-2 draw with visiting Atlanta. Bernardeschi has played every game this season but was a question-mark for Saturday after being listed as questionable with a lower body injury.

Insigne played 85 minutes before giving way to Kosi Thompson.

Read more: Toronto FC rallies to tie Atlanta United 2-2 as Lorenzo Insigne returns from injury

Philadelphia had conceded the first goal in seven of its eight league outings this year but came out with purpose and went ahead in the 16th minute after TFC ‘keeper Sean Johnson made a fine save to deny Gazdag from in-close. The ball bounced out to defender Sigurd Rosted whose attempted clearance hit MacNaughton and flew into the Toronto goal.

There was more suspect defending in the 20th minute after Toronto failed to clear a Philadelphia cross. Johnson kept the ball in play but couldn’t get through Carranza to gather it. The ball came back in front of goal and Uhre’s shot deflected in off the unfortunate MacNaughton.

The goal, which came despite seven Toronto defenders in the box, survived a lengthy video review but Canadian VAR official Geoff Gamble with Johnson claiming he had been fouled in the buildup to the goal.

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The Toronto defence was shredded again in the 43rd minute with Uhre, put in alone with a teammate by Gazdag, beating a helpless Johnson. Uhre made it 4-0 in the 56th, beating Osorio to a Carranza cross for his fifth goal of the season.

Toronto came into the game having tied four straight _ and with a league-high six draws in its previous seven games.

TFC was without injured captain/midfielder Michael Bradley, fullback Cristian Gutierrez, centre back Matt Hedges, midfielder Victor Vazquez and forward Adama Diomande.

Bradley withdrew MacNaughton _ who was dealing with a lower leg issue _ and Bernardeschi, who had been in and out of training during the week with a lower body injury, at halftime. Shane O’Neill and Perruzza came on.

Toronto, which was 2-11-4 in league play away from home last season, had yet to win on the road this year at 0-2-3. Philadelphia, which was unbeaten at home last year (12-0-5), is 3-1-1 at Subaru Park this season.

On Earth Day, both teams wore their One Planet kits made of a recycled material “created from reimagined plastic waste.”

Toronto hosts New York City FC next Saturday.

&© 2023 The Canadian Press

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