Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution reinforced two continuing trends for the Union, one the club expects will continue and another they’ll attempt to eliminate in the second half of their inaugural season.
On one hand, Sebastien Le Toux continued a breakout season that has seen the Frenchman emerge as a dominant force in MLS. On the other, the Union played well enough to win yet again only to come up with a single point for their efforts.
“It is the same story since some of the games we have played here,” said Le Toux. “Some games we play well and it was hard to keep the ball away from them. We tried very hard and it was a very unfortunate goal. It is very frustrating, but we have to score more goals and we have to keep going and be better for the next game.”
The draw wasn’t of the positive variety in large part because the club held a 1-0 lead for 46 minutes after Le Toux’s wonder strike put the Union up 1-0.
The goal was set up by a rapid sequence of 10 straight passes in New England’s third, with rookie forward Danny Mwanga’s shielding of the ball at the top of the area enabling Le Toux to bend a curling strike just inside the far post.
“I use that a lot with Ali (Moreno) and when I saw the ball I knew it would be touchable,” Le Toux said when describing the understanding with Mwanga that led the rookie to back off before the shot. “I told him to leave the ball because I knew I could shoot it and put the ball in a good place.”
The goal looked like it might be enough for the Union, as the club appeared on track for their first-ever shutout before a free kick from Marko Perovic took a strange bounce and found the back of the net for a New England equalizer. Le Toux thought he deserved a chance at a game-winning, stoppage time penalty kick for the second time in as many league matches when he was taken down within the area in the 92nd minute, but this time the referee didn’t point to the spot.
“I really felt the guy grabbing me and pushing me and I cannot really jump so I don’t even know if the referee even saw it,” he said. “I am not a cheater when I dive and if I can score I can score. Now I don’t know, I did not see the video so I don’t know, but now it is done with.”
That attitude will serve Le Toux and the Union well, rather than worrying about past results that could have played out differently. While that elusive shutout would certainly help the Union avoid giving away points at home, scoring more is always an option too. In particular, more goals generated by players not named Le Toux, who has had a hand in 15 of the club’s 19 goals in league play this season.
“Yes I think we have a lot of good players who can score,” Le Toux said. “I am sure we can score more goals. We have a lot of players who can do it. Tonight we just got one but we will continue to play and try and score and I am confident that we will start scoring goals. Right now we need to keep a clean sheet. We just need to be more focused and better next time.”
It may be true that the Union need to be a little bit better to begin winning on a regular basis, but the important thing is the club is playing well enough to do so already.
For the expansion Union, that’s no small feat.