Zac MacMath has had some terrific matches this season.
This may have been his best.
With a clutch five-save performance, the Philadelphia Union goalkeeper helped guide his club to a huge 1-0 victory at Sporting Kansas City on Friday night. The win pushed the Union back into playoff position in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
It was so impressive, the 22-year-old goalkeeper is up for MLS' Top 3 Performers of the Week.
On a night when Conor Casey provided all the offense the Union would need, MacMath and the defense in front of him took care of the rest.
It was quite an impressive performance.
“This is a big game for us coming off two loses and we need three points,” said MacMath following his 11th shutout tied for the league best. “Coming into Kansas City, we were hoping just to steal a point, but we knew if we kept it tight the whole game that we'd have a chance to get three points.”
MacMath’s effort helped the Union snap a five-match winless skid. The timing was perfect.
“He was really good,” Union manager John Hackworth said of MacMath. “He controlled the box and made a couple key saves. He really kept us in the game.”
Casey’s goal wound up being the game winner and erased a frustrating 345-minute stretch without a goal.
“It was about time,” Casey said. “We've had plenty of chances to do it, we just haven't been that good in front of the goal this month. Today, we really didn't have that many chances and we were able to score, so we're just going to have to take it.”
The Union took the match in a tough environment at Sporting Park. They had never won there before Friday night.
This season has produced some big wins in hostile places going back to a 2-1 victory in a blizzard in Colorado. The Union have proven to be a very resilient club.
“We came here and got a result,” Hackworth said. “It wasn't the prettiest of games for us. You have to give Sporting Kansas City a lot of credit. (Coach) Peter Vermes has them playing very well. You saw our fight tonight and the way we were tough and resilient all the way through the match.”
Casey echoed similar thoughts.
“They put us under a lot of pressure for good chunks of the game and we defended really well,” Casey said. “Everybody, especially our back four, but it was a great team defensive effort. It wasn't necessarily our prettiest game but we were able to score which we haven't been able to do. It's a huge three points for us, and it's something we really needed at this point in the season."
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Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org