Union satisfied with effort in narrow defeat to Real Madrid

Philadelphia fall behind 2-0 early to Real, nearly equalize late

PHILADELPHIA — This was a scenario Zac MacMath
had gone over in his mind thousands of times.

He would lie down in bed and dream
about this moment and what it would feel like.

On Saturday night at Lincoln Financial
Field, MacMath saw his dreams become reality.

There he was, protecting Philadelphia Union’s goal against arguably the world’s best player in Cristiano
Ronaldo. As Ronaldo lined up to take a free kick, MacMath just focused intently
and did what he has done thousands of times before — he made the save.

It was a fascinating subplot in what
wound up being a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid before 57,305 fans at the Linc. After
falling behind 2-0, the Union played a strong second half and nearly had Jack
McInerney tie the game in stoppage time.

WATCH: Full match highlights

“The guys and [goalkeeper coach] Rob [Vartughian] were joking with me before the game about this,” MacMath said.
“They were saying, ‘Don’t let him get one on you.’ I was able to make the save
fortunately.”

Having deep Philadelphia roots made the
experience that much more worthwhile for MacMath. His father, Gary, is a
graduate of Frankford High School in Philadelphia, his aunt lives in nearby
Valley Forge, and there are friends scattered throughout the area.

“I thought it was a great experience,
and to play against one of the best players and clubs in the world was
amazing,” MacMath said. “I thought everyone did a good job, and we showed a lot
of character. As we get back into MLS play, we can take a lot of good things
from Everton and then from this match.”

Starting goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon,
who will participate in the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday at Red Bull Arena,
echoed similar thoughts.

“To play a top side like Real Madrid
here, it was a privilege for everyone,” Mondragon said. “It was a great
experience for us, for the fans, the franchise and we gave them a very decent
game. I think we’re all very happy.”

Defensive miscues led to Jose Maria Callejon scoring in the
second minute and Mesut Ozil added a second goal in the 11
th minute for a quick
2-0 lead.

The Union refused to back down and got
within 2-1 when Michael Farfan scored in the 80
th minute. McInerney
and Roger Torres each had outstanding chances to even the score late in the
match.

Philadelphia will get back to MLS action
with an added boost of confidence after a 1-0 win over Everton FC and this
hard-fought match against Real Madrid.

“The Union have a lot of very good
players,” said Real Madrid superstar midfielder Kaká. “They have a bright future. They’re a very good club and
they are well managed. They are going to be tough to beat in MLS.”

Union manager Peter Nowak was pleased with his club's effort.

“No one got hurt and we played good,”
Nowak said.

The Union, who are tied with the
Columbus Crew for first place in the Eastern Conference with two matches in hand, will return to league
action on Friday when they host the Colorado Rapids at PPL Park.

After such a strong finish against Real
Madrid, they have to be feeling quite good about themselves.

“Yes, I think we are confident,” said
forward Danny Mwanga, who assisted on Farfan’s goal. “I was very pleased with
how we came out in the second half and played very aggressive. I think with a
performance like that, we can get back to training and understand where we are.
I think we’re in a good position.

"It was exciting to play one of the worldwide
clubs in Real Madrid and I thought it was a great experience," Mwanga added. "It will help us
as we get back to MLS.”