The Philadelphia Union came thisclose to earning three coveted points against Real Salt Lake Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
But instead of heading for Houston with three points, the Union settled for one following a tough 2-2 draw. Despite being a man down, RSL equalized seven minutes into extra time on a penalty kick by Javier Morales.
Just like last Saturday’s 2-2 draw against FC Dallas, which featured a last-second goal by Blas Perez, this was a near repeat.
The good news: The Union picked up a point for the second straight match against a quality opponent.
The frustrating news: The Union left points on the table again in the waning seconds.
“I feel that we deserved more than the one point but that means the ball bounced the wrong way and they got that penalty at the end,” said midfielder Danny Cruz. “This atmosphere was phenomenal, it’s a tough place to play, at altitude as well. It was a well fought game against a great team. We are not happy with the draw by any means but if you ask people ‘If you drew at Salt Lake, how would you feel?,’ most people would say pretty good.”
Conor Casey and Sebastien Le Toux each scored a goal for the Union, who thrived for the most part without CONCACAF Gold Cup competitors Jack McInerney and Keon Daniel.
The Union controlled the tempo and seemed a lock to leave the stadium with three points.
“If you told me coming in to this game I would’ve had a point coming out of here, I’ll take it,” manager John Hackworth said. “The way it went down, no. We’re disappointed. The locker room is gutted. We feel like we’re snake bitten. Two times in five days is hard to swallow. Everything in perspective, we’ve got to learn and keep going.”
Philadelphia won’t have much time to dwell as it travels to Houston for another road match Saturday night.
Read: Series history: Houston
The Union have proven to be quite resilient this season, especially after a difficult match.
Despite a couple of late-match mistakes, the defense by and large has played solid.
“It’s been great,” said Casey. “Our positioning has been good, our backline has been great, midfielders have been great in terms of our (being) sharp as a team that is something that we are definitely dedicated to and something that we will continue to do.”
The Union kept pressing and nearly made it 3-1 when Le Toux broke free, but was stymied with a shot by RSL goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
Whether it’s offensively or defensively, the goal is to play 90 consistent minutes. That theme will never change.
“You know, I really didn’t think about that until now,” Hackworth said of Le Toux’s chance. “Those are hard to swallow. You look back at the game film and that one’s going to be tough. But, Josh made a save on it, too. Sebastien had done so much in that game. I mean it’s hard to fault any guy who has run as much as he has and has done it the length of the sprint and effort he had. We can always say, ‘Shoulda, coulda, woulda.’ But we have to realize that we have to do better.”
What you do think the Union need to do to close out matches? Leave a message in the comments below.
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org