Union celebration vs. New York
Greg Carroccio

Union using what they know how to do best to earn points down tough MLS home stretch

It’s all a process.

The Philadelphia Union are still searching for that elusive first victory at Red Bull Arena. But they got a huge point following a scoreless draw Saturday night.

For now, that’s clutch. Especially as the Union (10-7-7, 38 points) continue to battle for playoff seeding.

“I think it says a lot about our team and the way we approached the games this year and our mentality coming into a place where we haven’t even gotten a point ever,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “Especially against a Red Bulls team that I thought was at full strength tonight, they were excellent for long stretches of that match. Credit to our guys for really doing a good job defensively. The longer that game went on, I thought we opened them up a little bit; we had some chances to find one there at the end.”

This point was especially sweet following a 2-0 victory over D.C. United. Two matches against two rivals turned into two shutouts and three points.

Not bad at all.

“It’s a good result,” said defender Jeff Parke. “It’s an important stepping stone to get us going in the right direction. That’s two shutouts in a row for us. We have played well the last few weeks to get results. We’re getting our points when needed and getting ourselves moving in the right direction and positioning ourselves to make a run.”

Goalkeeper Zac MacMath registered his ninth shutout.

More than that, the defense was stellar in front of him.

“I think we did a good job, we knew they were one of the best teams at getting in goal and going forward,” said Sebastien Le Toux, who nearly won the match but watched his shot bounce off the crossbar in the 73rd minute. “It was a lot of running but we stayed compact. Overall, I think everyone did a good job defending, not only the defenders but I think the forwards and the midfielders stayed compact with the other group and we looked for a good counterattack and we had a good chance to get the win at the end but they played well and we tried to continue to find a way but this is a tough place to play so it’s good to get a point.”

Shutting down New York’s attack is far from easy. But the Union stuck with their gameplan and stayed within themselves the entire match.

“We had to follow runners in the box, we had to get numbers in there and it’s important that we kept our head on a swivel and realized that if the ball is getting out back to know that it’s coming,” Parke said. “You have to get yourself going and get yourself realizing that there’s three good players that could change games with Thierry (Henry), (Tim) Cahill and (Fabian) Espindola, too. We did a good job with them today but they’re a good group, I thought we did a good job and guys really stepped up and helped us earn the point.”

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com

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