Philadelphia Union earned a 2-2 draw with Western Conference club Real Salt Lake on the road at Rio Tinto Stadium Wednesday evening, as Union goals from Sebastien Le Toux and Conor Casey were equaled by Luis Gil and a penalty kick seven minutes into extra time by Javier Morales.
“If you would’ve told me coming into this game that I would’ve had a point coming out of here, I would’ve said I’ll take it. [But] the way that it went down, no, we’re disappointed,” Union manager John Hackworth said after the match. “The locker room is gutted right now, very frustrated… it’s tough to swallow. Again, every game in perspective, we’ve got to learn and manage it a little better.”
The Union (7-5-6, 26 points) struck first behind a goal from Le Toux in the 13th minute. Defender Sheanon Williams sprung Casey behind the Real Salt Lake defense on the right side and the forward dribbled towards the touchline, cut inside and fed Le Toux, who was there to knock it past RSL goalkeeper Josh Saunders and give the Union the lead.
Salt Lake came close to answering shortly after, as a header from Robbie Findley went just wide of Zac MacMath’s net. Joel Plata made a run down the right hand side before whipping in service to Findley, whose header bounced inches outside of the frame. The home side continued to attack until the end of the half, with several chances in the ensuing minutes. But the Union defense held firm and withstood the pressure to retain the lead into the break.
Both teams started the second half with no substitutes, but the game changed when Real Salt Lake dropped to 10 men after Lovel Palmer received a straight red for a foul on the Union’s Michael Farfan. The Salt Lake player went in for a challenge and clipped the midfielder, who was subsequently subbed off in favor of Antoine Hoppenot.
Despite going a man down, second-half substitute Sebastian Velasquez provided an immediate boost for the home side, as the midfielder tried to bring the game level in the 72nd minute with a shot on MacMath from inside the 18. Velasquez collected a ball and fired it on frame, but the Union keeper made a diving save to his right.
“Credit to Salt Lake, they never stopped, they threw numbers forward, they made it really tough for us. And that’s because they’re a good team,” Hackworth said. “There’s a reason they’re the best team in the league right now.”
Real Salt Lake brought the game level shortly after through a header in the 75th minute from second-half substitute Luis Gil, who was playing in his first MLS match since representing the U.S. in the U-20 World Cup. After drawing even, the Union responded immediately as second-half substitute Hoppenot got behind the Salt Lake defense and centered it to an oncoming Casey, who finished calmly past Saunders just moments later in the 76th minute.
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Salt Lake threw numbers forward to apply the pressure in the final minutes, eventually being rewarded deep into stoppage time as a penalty kick was given when the referee whistled for a hand ball on Union defender Ray Gaddis in the box. Javier Morales stepped up to the spot and clanked it off the woodwork and in to ensure the tie.
“We’ve got to improve. This is the second game in a row where we’ve lost points at the very end of the game,” Hackworth said. “A couple mistakes on our part and we just need to learn. I thought we would’ve done a better job managing it this week, so we’ll have to keep working on it.”
The club remains on the road as they head to Texas for a Saturday matchup against Eastern Conference side Houston Dynamo, set for 9 p.m. ET on The Comcast Network.