The game in 100 words (or less): The MLS Cup loser’s hangover has officially consumed Columbus Crew SC, who on Saturday night were defeated at home by the Philadelphia Union, by the final score of 2-1. Chris Pontius, who moved from D.C. United to the Union in the offseason after three straight years of injuries that robbed him of his mid-20s, scored twice to complete his first brace since June 24, 2012. Set-piece defending remains an issue for Crew SC (see below), though they’re still dangerous as ever on set pieces of their own. Beyond that, their ball movement looks a million times slower this year than it did in 2015, when they went from back to front quicker than just about any other team in the league. So much possession (59 percent) with so little to show for it (just four shots on target prior to the game’s final 10 minutes.
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Three moments that mattered
45+1′ — Pontius slots home from the long throw, 1-0 to Philly — Long throws are just about the most annoying thing in soccer … unless it’s your team that’s effectively utilizing them. The secret to defending them, as with any set piece: attack the ball. Crew SC did not do that just before halftime and consequently found themselves down 1-0.
71′ — Pontius slots it low, past Clark, for 2-0 — The Union moved the ball quickly and precisely from one side of the field to the other, and were duly rewarded for such competent soccer tactics. Eventually the ball ended up at the feet of Pontius, who bagged his first brace in nearly four years.
87′ — Kamara pulls one back for the home side — Kei Kamara will be a threat on set pieces until he calls it quits, which is why it’s probably smart to mark him on just about every set piece his team ever executes. About that…
Man of the match: Chris Pontius
Goalscorers: Pontius (45+1′, 71′), Kamara (87′)