In what looked imminent to be a scintillating finish against FC Dallas for the Union turned into heartbreak as a header from forward Blas Perez, forced Philadelphia to settle for a 2-2 tie at PPL Park.
Moments before, 18,212 in attendance experienced euphoria after second half substitute Aaron Wheeler got his head on a cross into the box from Sheanon Williams to put the Union ahead, 2-1 in the 87th minute, against a 10-man Dallas side looking to put the bus in park and escape Chester with a point.
It was a late Union foul that sparked the Dallas equalizer as a free kick into the box eluded the grasp of goalkeeper Zac MacMath. FC Dallas midfielder David Ferreira then flicked the ball towards the head of Perez, who notched his sixth of the season.
“This reminds me of games last year against [D.C. United] where we dominated and dominated and next thing you know they get a late goal,” said defender Amobi Okugo. “The positive from this is that we didn’t lose it, but you hate to let any team get a point in your house – especially like that.”
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It was the Union (7-5-5, 26 points) that struck first courtesy of a header in the 20th minute from Okugo, his third of the season. Once again a long throw-in from fellow defender Sheanon Williams proved the perfect remedy as Williams picked up his sixth assist of the season – fourth by way of his booming restarts. However, moments later Dallas’ (8-3-6, 30 points) Walker Zimmerman quieted the crowd with his own goal equalizing from a Michel free kick in the 24th minute.
Williams was also the hero in second half stoppage time, as he cleared an FC Dallas shot off the line to preserve the Union’s lead.
“Our lines were tight and we stuck with our people but we either didn’t control [the pace of play] when we needed or control the first or second pass,” said Union captain Brian Carroll, postgame. “We needed to see this game out a little better, we have been good at doing those things…it’s something we just didn’t clean up and take care of. It feels like we let two [points] slip away.”
With the departure of midfielder Keon Daniel (Trinidad and Tobago) and Jack McInerney (United States) for international duty in July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, the Union will look to dig deep and keep the form that has made them one of the league’s hottest clubs in matches against Real Salt Lake in Sandy, Utah (10 p.m., The Comcast Network) next Saturday. Then it’s another tough test away against the Houston Dynamo (9 p.m., TCN) on July 6 before a return home to face Chivas USA (7:30 p.m., TCN).
“The thing we need to do now is not let this one hang over our heads,” said Carroll. “We can’t let this one affect how we play in our next game and its obviously something we are going to get right back on the field and take care of and clean up because we all know we just gave [two points] away – and that can’t happen.”
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Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org