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Union fall behind early, can't catch up to NYC FC

NEW YORK - The Union allowed a potential scoring chance to New York City FC in the first minute Saturday, and it was a sign of things to come.

NEW YORK - The Union allowed a potential scoring chance to New York City FC in the first minute Saturday, and it was a sign of things to come.

Playing their worst first half of the season, the Union were down, 2-0, at intermission and paid for it in a 3-2 loss at Yankee Stadium.

"I would like to apologize to our fans who traveled here and also our fans watching at home for the first half. That was not what we have been about, so I am disappointed from that regard," said Union coach Jim Curtin, who saw his team's franchise-record-tying eight-game unbeaten streak snapped.

Frank Lampard's header in front of the goal just went wide in the first minute, but the former Chelsea star and his teammates were just getting warmed up.

For the rest of the first half, NYC FC was relentless on the attack. It was the first time the Union have allowed two first-half goals this season.

The Union (6-4-5, 23 points) remained in first place in the Eastern Conference, but there are plenty of teams like NYC FC (5-5-6, 21 points) breathing down their neck.

Lampard was making his first start of the season. He missed the first 12 games with a calf injury and played a total of 44 minutes in his first three appearances before Saturday.

Lampard opened the scoring in the eighth minute. R.J. Allen sent a ball from the right flank to Thomas McNamara, who was inside the box. McNamara got a weak shot off, but Lampard was left unmarked near the edge of the six-yard box and redirected it in past Union keeper Andre Blake.

MLS leading goal scorer David Villa connected in the 21st minute. Jack Harrison, the first overall MLS SuperDraft selection from Wake Forest who was acquired from Chicago on draft day, set up the score by making a long run on goal on a counterattack. At the right moment, Harrison made a back-heel pass to Villa who was just inside the 18. Villa fired a low shot just inside the near post for his 11th goal of the season.

Andrea Pirlo, a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, made it 3-0 by scoring on a free kick just outside of the box in the 50th minute.

The Union scored on Roland Alberg's penalty kick in the 55th minute after rookie Fabian Herbers was taken down in the box. Herbers was making his first start for C.J. Sapong, who missed his first game with an ankle injury.

When NYC FC's Jason Hernandez received his second yellow in the 85th minute it gave the Union a man advantage.

The Union made it 3-2 when NYC FC allowed an own goal. Union midfielder Brian Carroll's header went off Frederic Brillant in the 88th minute.

Both teams had several scoring chances after that, but NYC held on.

"They led 3-0 and maybe they thought it was finished," Alberg said.

It wasn't at that point, but in the end, the Union's second 45 minutes weren't enough to overcome the first 45.