Match recap: Union battle back to nearly silence feisty Sounders

Resilient Union forge draw behind Danny Cruz brace

 

The Union got a result, but collectively they’ll all tell you it’s not the one they wanted.

On a perfect day at PPL Park, a pair of goals from midfielder Danny Cruz propelled Philadelphia to a 2-2 draw with Seattle Sounders FC, earning both clubs a point but the Union having to settle for a draw after battling back a goal down. Cruz evened the score 1-1 in the 50th minute, smashing a shot far of Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning that fell to him after a Conor Casey header hit the post. Cruz crushed the rebound for his first of the year.

A minute later, Cruz put the Union ahead, 2-1, pouncing on a weak clearance by Seattle to net the brace.

VIEW: FULL MATCH STATISTICS

“At the end of the day I wanted a win I think that’s first and foremost and most important,” Cruz said postgame. “I am happy with a result at home and credit to Seattle they are good team. As far as the goals I am ecstatic just to be able to contribute and that the coaches had faith in me and I was just happy to see the ball go back in the net both times.”

In the 64th, Seattle midfielder Mauro Rosales ensured Seattle would earn a point slotting a left footed shot past Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath. It marked the second time in three tries that Seattle (1-3-3, six points) would draw at PPL Park.

For the Union, it found the team improve to 3-3-3 (12 points) although the final 10 minutes of the match could have seen the momentum shift favorably in the Union’s direction as chance after chance on goal was met with resistance from Seattle by way of mistimed fouls, many of which led to cards. In the end, referee Jorge Gonzalez went into his pocket six times, three for red cards, one that finds defender Sheanon Williams missing the next match after getting into a confrontation with Seattle’s Lamar Neagle, who was also sent off. In second half stoppage, Seattle defender DeAndre Yedlin was also sent off for his rough challenge on Michael Farfan. It was a second stanza in which the Union looked considerably more effective as a unit and challenged a Sounders team that was on their heels for much of it.

“In the first half, we put a lot of balls in the box but the execution was really poor,” said Union manager John Hackworth. “And I said to the guys [at the half] that there is nothing I can give you as a coach to execute a skill you are already good at, but I can get you to play harder and you have to just keep going. It was important for us to keep our foot on the gas and believe it.”

Believe the Union did, as the club had 11 attempts on goal in the second half, four on Gspurning’s frame and two goals to preserve a point.

Now, the tide shifts as the Union regenerate and regroup for a road match against Chicago on Saturday, May 11 (1:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network). The match kicks off a game in which the Union will play three matches in eight days with two games back at PPL Park against  Los Angeles (May 15, 7:30 p.m.) and Chicago once more on May 18 (7:30 p.m.).

“We fought hard especially coming right out of halftime and we didn’t quit,” said defender Amobi Okugo. We have a tough stretch coming up we need to prepare for but we showed that we don’t quit. We should have gotten three points out of this match, but we take the positives from it and make sure we don’t put ourselves in a ‘what if’ situation ever again.”

Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com