Zac MacMath is mature beyond his years.
That much was evident during the last week as the ever-improving Philadelphia Union goalkeeper registered a pair of 1-0 shutouts against the Chicago Fire. Sandwiched in between was a 4-1 loss to the two-time defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy.
All three matches were learning experiences for MacMath, who continues to elevate his level of play for the Union (5-4-3, 18 points).
What was especially impressive was MacMath’s six-save performance against Chicago following a tough loss just a few nights earlier.
“I think he showed some resilience, some character,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “I have full confidence in him. I don’t question those things at all. I just know what he’s capable of, what kind of person he is and the kind of athlete he is.”
All of those attributes were on display in a second shutout against the Fire.
MacMath was solid from the start and made some big saves in the second half when the game got tight.
“Zac was great tonight,” said forward Jack McInerney, who scored his league-leading eighth goal in the third minute. “He played a strong game and made some huge saves for us. I wish we could have done more to help him out with more goals. He made the one goal stand up and played a great game all the way around.”
Following Wednesday’s loss to the Galaxy, MacMath viewed the film. He watched. He learned. And the results showed against the Fire.
“Of course, anytime you give up four goals, it’s tough on the whole team,” MacMath said. “I re-watched it that night and I knew I was going to learn from it and I think I made a couple plays tonight I saw that I didn’t make Wednesday night. That’s the difference. I’m trying to learn and take those experiences and learn from it.”
“Little things, being strong coming off your line,” MacMath said. “Being confident, little plays, holding the ball. Stuff like that.”
More important, he quickly erased the memories from Wednesday.
“I think that’s what goalkeepers have to do and what our team has to do,” MacMath said. “We got a result tonight. I don’t think guys even Thursday were thinking about the game on Wednesday. We had to refocus for Chicago and I think everyone looked great.”
MacMath’s confidence has never wavered. It won’t.
“It helps a lot,” he said of recording another shutout. “Anytime you get a win, anytime you get a shutout, especially a 1-0 win. We kind of grinded it out, we were up a man for a little bit and sometimes that makes the game harder. I think it was a big game that shows a lot of confidence for our team and hopefully we can take forward into next weekend.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org