It’s exactly what the doctor ordered.
Okay, maybe not EXACTLY, but the production that forged a 3-3 draw and preserved a point at home for the Union against Vancouver, one of the hottest teams in Major League Soccer served as timely medicine in a continued quest to find the cure for what ails.
A pair of goals from Conor Casey and a goal from second half substitution Sebastien Le Toux were tallied in a seven minute span to find the Union battle back from a two-goal, first half deficit. Casey’s pair marked his second straight two-goal performance and as for Le Toux, the Union original nabbed his fourth goal of the season on a sequence that is in the running for the best Union moment of the year.
Casey found midfielder Cristian Maidana, who pinpointed a great diagonal run from fellow midfielder Vincent Nogueira. Nogueira beat his defender and slotted a ball across Vancouver’s 18-yard-box to an onrushing Le Toux sending the sellout crowd of 18,870 into frenzy at PPL Park. The assist was one of three on the night for Maidana, who went 88 minutes in this affair.
“It’s been nice. I’ve been able to play and get minutes and that’s always what you want,” Casey said postgame. “As a player you always want to be on the field. I’m happy I was given a chance and help the team out with those goals. Also, when it comes to [Maidana] he’s got a great eye and gives a good ball. He’s found me time and time again. He found me a couple times today and sometimes I couldn’t put them away, but he kept looking and I was able to in the second half.”
For a team that struggled for most of the season to find the back of the net, this Union collective have now bagged 11 goals in its last five matches, including a pair of back-to-back three goal games. The Union would have earned a monster win at home if a foul inside the box on speedy Vancouver forward Darren Mattocks, who drew a penalty after referee Jose Carlos Rivero deemed that Mattocks’ legs were taken out by goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
On the ensuing penalty, Whitecaps midfielder Pedro Morales stepped up to the spot and scored although MacMath, who guessed correctly, nearly as his fourth penalty kick save of the season, if for the ball narrowly getting past MacMath sprawling dive.
As for Vancouver (5-2-6, 21 points) the draw now finds the club unbeaten in its last seven matches, but the Union had numerous chances in the closing moments to give the club its first loss, perhaps one of the biggest arriving in second half stoppage time when Le Toux laid a ball off to midfielder Maurice Edu, who’s quick touch and shot packed power but sailed high over the bar. The Union pressed Vancouver for much of this one as the final stat sheet showed an edge in possession (51-49), shots on goal (9-4) and attempts at goal which was a whopping 29-6, all undoubtedly coming in a furious second half from the Union.
With the point, the Union will head into a two-week break from MLS play with a 3-7-6 (15 points) record and a ton of positives to build on before MLS work resumes on June 28 in a trip to battle the New England Revolution (7:30 p.m., The Comcast Network). The Union do kick off 2014 U.S. Open Cup play on June 17 when it hosts developmental affiliate Harrisburg City Islanders (7 p.m. purchase tickets).
“I know the guys we have in our locker room,” Casey said. “I know that things haven’t gone well this year, but we’ve had some games that we’ve played really well. There have been games where we’ve played really bad. Today, first half wasn’t good, but second half was really good. Everyone still bleeds. We have a lot of time left. Although we didn’t win today, it’s been two games now that we’ve gotten really good results. Vancouver’s a good team. We get a little break now and we come back and attack the second half of the season.”
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Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at email@example.com