Chris Pontius on Union's Troubles: ‘No One Is Panicking'

CHESTER, Pa. -- Home or away, the Union can’t seem to stop the bleeding. 

The 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake on Sunday night at Talen Energy Stadium was the club’s fourth in six games (see game story), causing them to slip from first in the Eastern Conference to a 30-point, three-way tie for third with Toronto FC and Montreal Impact. 

Both Montreal and Toronto have a game in hand.

“Every season you’re going to run into a roller coaster of emotions,” said Union veteran Chris Pontius. “You try not to let the highs get too high or the lows get too low. We’ve lost a few games now. We’re in a bit of a hole. No one is panicking in that locker room, at all.”

But while the team isn’t in full panic mode, the uncertainty of how to fix the situation is present. After being smacked around by the Impact, 5-1, on the road last weekend, the Union were excited to come home with a full week of rest. 

It didn’t help, as the club allowed a pair of second-half goals to Joao Plata and Javier Morales. 

“We can’t really put a finger on it right now,” said Union center back Ken Tribbett. “If we could, we’d obviously go back to keeping clean sheets and limiting chances. It’s a team effort. It starts from our attack to our defenders. We just have to put in the work and maybe get a few bounces.”

Although the goals from Plata and Morales were nearly unstoppable, it’s another game in which the Union allowed more than one goal. In the eight games since June 18 (first game following the Copa America break), the Union have allowed more than one goal a total of six times. In the 14 games prior to that, they had only given up two-plus goals five times. 

“We have played in probably too many end-to-end games now,” said Union manager Jim Curtin. “We’re built to be organized. Everyone has to be on the same page. If we start playing individual and trying things on our own defensively, it doesn’t go well. We need to go back to not giving up goals.”

That would help things. Curtin’s once defensively stout team has sprung a leak, allowing 19 goals in its last eight games. They only gave up 16 in their first 14 games. 

Still, Curtin is confident. 

“We’re going to fix this thing and get back in it,” he said. “It’s hard to win games in this league. It’s really hard to do. We need to get back on top.”

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