There was a noticeable buzz at PPL Park more than an hour before kickoff.
After all, this was the first-ever playoff game for the Philadelphia Union, who have only been in existence for two seasons.
When the game began against the Houston Dynamo, the sellout crowd of 18,539 waved rally towels while Jimmy Rollins, Scott Hartnell and James van Riemsdyk donned Union gear as honorary captains.
The stadium was loud as always.
When it was over, the Union came up short, 2-1, in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Luckily, there’s another game to be played Thursday night at Houston. If Philadelphia can win 1-0 and even the total goals in this series, then the game will go to overtime, and possibly penalty kicks.
“We’re disappointed with the result,” said second-year forward Danny Mwanga. “The crowd was great. We wanted to get a good result here. We expect to go down there and play well.”
The Union had 10 shots on goal and seven corner kicks. There were plenty of chances to score.
“We have to clean a few things up,” said forward Jack McInerney, whose header nearly tied the game in stoppage time at the end. “We’re a bit upset, but we’re going to Houston with the mentality of winning the game.”
It was Philadelphia’s first and only home loss since July 29 against Colorado.
Since the series is far from over, the Union can quickly forget about this one. If the Union can rebound and win in Houston like they have each of the past two seasons, they’ll be alive and well.
“There is so much soccer to be played,” defender Sheanon Williams said. “We’ve been pinned back against the wall before and we’ve come out swinging. We’ll do that again. We’ll be ready to play. I think we’re a confident group despite the result tonight.”