After a club-record eight-match unbeaten streak, the Union (6-4-5) finally fell on Saturday, 3-2, to New York City FC (5-5-6) at Yankee Stadium.
Time off seemed detrimental to the team early on as the Union saw a 3-0 deficit in front of them at the 50 minute mark of the second half.
All of NYCFC’s prized European free agents found the net in this one, as Frank Lampard, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo used their veteran experience to expose the young but talented Union defense.
“We didn’t deserve anything today,” Union manager Jim Curtin said following the loss. “Credit to NYC today. I thought David Villa was the best player on the field by a lot. Difficult, we learned from it and will regroup. We have Chicago coming up and we get to bounce back quick.”
Despite the loss, the Union remained in first place in the Eastern Conference with 23 points. The win propelled NYCFC into second place with 21 points.
The Union were playing without top goal scorer C.J. Sapong, who is nursing a sprained ankle.
Curtin said that Sapong is “progressing” and hopes to have him back in the lineup for Wednesday’s match against the Chicago Fire (2-6-5).
With Sapong out, the Union offense clearly struggled as they scored on a penalty kick from Roland Alberg and an own goal from NYCFC’s Frederic Brilliant.
“As a team, we were not ourselves and I told the group before the game that what got us here is team defense, strong goalkeeping and being good on restarts,” Curtin said. “We get an F on that tonight.”
Wednesday’s match will be played at 7 p.m. at PPL Park. The match will air on the Comcast Network.