Back on May 26, Toronto FC beat the Philadelphia Union to snap a nine-game MLS losing skid. But on Sunday, the Union dominated Toronto from start to finish in a comprehensive 3-0 win at PPL Park.
Toronto is last in the Eastern Conference standings at 2-11-4 and trails Philadelphia (5-9-2), its closest competitor, by seven points.
Like Toronto, Philadelphia has seen a coaching change since the teams last met, and Sunday's game was the latest in a string of improved results under interim manager John Hackworth, who improved to 3-2 in league play. Coming off a last-minute road win against the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, Philadelphia used a considerable advantage in both speed and energy to dominate possession against Toronto.
"I think today they were on the front foot and first to everything and that little bit sharper than us," Toronto midfielder Terry Dunfield said.
The Union seized control of the match with two goals in three minutes late in the first half. In the 34th minute, forward Jack McInerney, who has three goals and two assists since stepping into the lineup on June 16, set up the opener from the right wing. His cross found midfielder Gabriel Gomez, whose shot deflected off the sliding Toronto defender Richard Eckersley. leaving goalkeeper Milos Kocic with little chance.
Philadelphia got its second goal two minutes later through the tricky left-side tandem of Gabriel Farfan and Freddy Adu. Farfan slipped a pass into the penalty area, and Adu broke behind the Toronto defence to collect the ball, and fire past Kocic from a tight angle.
"They just broke us down on a couple of easy plays where we didn't rotate quick enough," Toronto right back Jeremy Hall said. "They need points just as bad as we do, and they picked them up today."
Toronto improved in the second half, but even red-hot striker Danny Koevermans — riding a five-game goalscoring streak — couldn't get on the board. He saw a header saved and a bicycle kick fly wide, but his best scoring chance came on an 82nd-minute scissor kick that beat goalkeeper Zac MacMath but was cleared off the goal line by Philadelphia right back Sheanon Williams.
Philadelphia wrapped up the game in the 78th minute, when Michael Farfan fed substitute Antoine Hoppenot racing into the area, and he powered a simple finish past Kocic.
"It was just a bridge too far for us today," said Toronto head coach Paul Mariner, who saw a five-game unbeaten streak (1-0-4) come to an end. "Seven games in 23 days, five on the road, and dressing the same players is a tall order. They were sharper than us in the first half. We had a little regroup at halftime … but it was just too much for us."
Both teams return to action Wednesday, with Toronto playing rival Vancouver at BMO Field in MLS play and Philadelphia hosting Kansas City in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals.