The Union lost 4-3 in Cincinnati on Wednesday night.

They played well enough to earn at least a point on the road against a quality team, but alas, it was not to be.

First, backup goalkeeper Oliver Semmle got chipped from midfield:

Then, after clawing back to level for the third time in the game, the U turned it over and conceded the winner in the 100th minute:

The replay shows Markus Anderson sort of bumbling along with the ball in Cincinnati’s half. If he had taken it into the corner, or gotten rid of it, the Union likely see out a 3-3 draw and come home with a road point. But he coughed up possession and Lucho Acosta delivered the dagger on the other end.

Mind you, this was four days after conceding late to lose at home to a Miami team playing with nine men, none of whom were Lionel Messi or Luis Suarez. They followed up one horrendous loss with a possibly more horrendous loss.

What’s particularly aggravating is that they aren’t necessarily playing poorly. All six losses this season were by one goal (not counting the Champions League thrashing at the hands of Pachuca). They’ve only been held scoreless twice, and they aren’t getting thrashed in these games, they just can’t stop conceding. Part of that is absolutely due to the absence of Andre Blake, but there’s been regression from a backline that has been more than stout over the previous 2-3 seasons. At some point, you knew Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott were going to fall back to Earth. They show these flashes of the team they were in 2023 and 2022 but suffer these brutal losses that remind me of the 2014-2017 “that’s so Union” era, sequences reminiscent of playoff contention going down the tubes thanks to Rais Mbolhi kicking the ball to the other team and getting chipped. Reminiscent of Vince Nogueira hitting the post in the U.S. Open Cup Final and Andrew Wenger dribbling out of bounds. They just don’t have a large margin for error because they don’t have individuals who can grab the game and do something special. So when the cracks start to show, they REALLY show.

The silver lining was a brace from forward Tai Baribo, who has been glued to the bench since coming here in August of 2023. Julian Carranza’s departure opened the door for the Israel international, who scored twice and worked pretty hard up top. Neither goal will be up for an award, but “right place, right time” is a skill and strikers have built careers on hanging around near the back post. Finally we got to see a real shift from him, and an extended cameo from Jeremy Rafanello.

Trying to stay pragmatic with this team, but this is the worst run they’ve been on since the summer of 2018. Now if you’ll excuse me, I will be playing PA casino apps. With PA casino bonuses, of course.