Union show signs of skill, tenacity even in defeat on the road Saturday against Columbus

Union show true grit in Eastern Conference clash vs. Crew

Maidana vs. Crew 3/22

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USA Today Sports Images

The Philadelphia Union showed quite a bit of grit in their 2-1 loss at Columbus Saturday night at Crew Stadium.

While the Union (1-1-1, four points) lost for the first time in 2014, they showed the type of character that will ultimately end up with wins in the long run.

Even after falling behind 2-0, the Union rallied with a goal by second half substitute Leo Fernandes. There were other scoring chances in the second half, but the Union couldn’t equalize.

The chances were clearly there. So was the fight and determination the technical staff is always looking for.

“You have to give them a lot of credit (because) they came out and definitely committed numbers forward in the first half and that gave us some trouble but I thought that we were handling it well until we gave up a restart,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “We lost our man, should have had an easy clearance on the goal, too. Somehow neither one of those happened. Then I thought we battled back into a difficult situation. We created plenty of chances. We had counter after counter and we just couldn’t pull a play off.

“We couldn’t execute that was our fault,” Hackworth added. “So we are not good in that regard, then to give up a goal in extra time in the first half was really, really frustrating. Credit to our guys in our locker room, I thought we battled back in the second half and put them under pressure. Kept the ball moving and it created chances. We got one back and I thought we had plenty of chances to get the second one, too, and it just didn’t fall for us.”

Union captain and midfielder Brian Carroll returned after missing last Saturday’s 1-0 win over New England because of an illness.

He had to like what he saw. It’s just a matter of cleaning up a few parts of their overall game moving forward.

“They had two chances in the first half and both of them were goals,” Carroll said. “Both of them were things we could have been a little bit cleaner with. Anytime you go down on the road two by halftime and come out and fight and pull one back and get back into the game, that’s a good step forward. We just weren’t able to get that second goal. The guys fought back gave a ton of effort in the second half to try and get back in it. We just fell a little short.”

One week after earning a huge assist in the 1-0 win over the Revolution, Fernandes responded with a big goal.

Ultimately, the Union needed just a little bit more to pick up points against the 2-0-0 Crew.

But Fernandes’ play has to be a major positive.

“I made a lot of smart runs and played some good through balls,” Fernandes said. “I was feeling like I had a lot of energy and tried to use all of it. Unfortunately, we didn’t come back and tie the game. I’m just happy to get my first MLS goal.”

What were your thoughts on the Union's play Saturday? Leave a comment below. 

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com