CHESTER, Pa. – Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath didn't really have the words to describe how bad his team, still barely clinging to playoff hopes, played in the first 45 minutes Saturday night.
"It's pretty odd for me to try and explain how bad we were in the first half in probably all aspects of the game," Heath said.
"It was like men against boys at times."
The Loons, for much of their match with the Philadelphia Union, played like a team that knew its season was ending in a matter of weeks when the regular season wraps up. The Union led by three goals before 23 minutes went by and officially buried United's playoff hopes with a 5-1 defeat. The five goals were the most Minnesota has allowed in a game all season.
The Union, which clinched a playoff berth with the result, started its rout with Cory Burke's eighth-minute goal. Burke outmuscled United's Michael Boxall at the top of the box and then beat Bobby Shuttleworth with a clean shot.
Union captain Alejandro Bedoya found space in the box to redirect a ball by Shuttleworth less than 10 minutes later. And in the 23rd minute, Fabrice-Jean Picault made a run past Jerome Thiesson to make it 3-0. That goal had United captain Francisco Calvo animated as the Loons came together 15 yards from the box before play resumed.
United's Rasmus Schuller had a chance to cut into the lead in the 43rd minute, but Union goalkeeper Andre Blake made a crucial save. Seconds later, with play going the other way, Picault got the ball with space in the box and made it 4-0 before halftime.
"When you look at the goals that they scored tonight," Heath said, "I'm trying to think of one where I go, 'That was a really well-earned goal. They've played really well to open us up.' Because when they do that you respect it and you hold your hand up and you go, 'That's a really, really good goal.'
"I can't think of one of them tonight where there's not an awful lot we could have done about it. I actually think that nearly all five goals we could have done something about it. That's the disappointing piece."
United got its lone goal from Darwin Quintero in the 54th minute.
The Union made it 5-1 with an Ilsinho strike from outside the box that Shuttleworth never had a chance on.
The Loons, who fell to 1-13-2 away from TCF Bank Stadium, play at home next Saturday against Colorado. The season finishes with another home game Oct. 21 vs. the Los Angeles Galaxy and a road match Oct. 28 in Columbus, Ohio.
"We've already got more wins than we have last year," Heath said when asked what he wanted out of the remainder of the season. "We've got three games left, and I'm going to try and win all three games.
"There's an awful lot to play at. A lot of those players in that dressing room are playing for their futures at Minnesota United. As long as they're putting the shirt on they have an obligation to the people that pay good money to come watch them."