Play-by-Play Plus: Time for Union to take full advantage of playing at PPL Park
Following two road games north of the border, the Union get ready for three straight league matches at home, all against difficult opponents. For the youngest team in MLS to stay in playoff contention, a better job must be done at home in terms of securing results.
Their current record at PPL Park of 2-2-2 overall needs to significantly improve and to beat the Columbus Crew, they'll need to play better than they did in Toronto on Saturday.
For the majority of the game, full credit to Toronto who were the better team. Union manager John Hackworth even said as much during interviews with media postgame. Even down a man, Toronto gave a great effort and scored the first goal. Watching that team play made it difficult to believe they had won just one game all season. No doubt, comparing the records, Union supporters and the team themselves should have felt confident of victory.
In the overall analysis, yes, this is a team the Union should've beaten.
However, on the day, the club has to consider their good fortunes by stealing a point in the depths of stoppage time. This could be an important point, during the final run of league games.
Again, it was Jack McInerney coming through in the clutch. The 20-year-old doesn't get garbage goals – he gets the big ones. On a night where he had two shots and was virtually quiet the entire game, the fourth-year-pro came up big again.
One day after being named to the U.S. men’s national team provisional 35-man roster for July's CONCACAF Gold Cup, he scores a game-tying goal that puts him back on top of the league’s scoring chart. McInerney now has 10 goals, seven of which have come on the road.
McInerney was the bright spot again for the Union on a night where they were not at their best. On the defensive side, it was clearly a better effort than the Montreal game, but there were still gaps that Toronto could not take advantage of that would be taken care of by better clubs, like the Union's next three home opponents. After this game, the next two are versus the New York Red Bulls, and FC Dallas, currently tops in MLS’ Western Conference.
Columbus comes into town for a game Wednesday (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets) unbeaten in their last three, but struggling with injuries. Central defender Chad Marshall has been missing with a hamstring injury and left back Josh Williams missed the last game with a sore calf.
However, the bigger injury is the season ending loss of Eddie Gaven. Leading the 2013 club in assists with four, the steady veteran tore his left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match against Dayton.
Those are big shoes to fill for this team.
Players to watch include the speedy Dominic Oduro who has six goals, and Argentine designated player Federico Higuain who has four goals and three assists.
See you at PPL Park Wednesday or at Chickies and Pete's in Drexel Hill on Tuesday where Alejandro and I will join Carl Cherkin and Kerith Gabriel on “The 90th Minute” radio show. The program airs beginning at 6 p.m. on CBS Sports Radio (610-AM).