There were a bevy of chances.
But the Philadelphia Union were unable to score and ultimately come away with three points.
However, the Union still registered one point and pushed their unbeaten streak to five (3-0-2) following a scoreless draw with the Houston Dynamo before a crowd of 18,462 Saturday night at PPL Park.
Since the New York Red Bulls defeated Seattle Sounders FC and the Columbus Crew beat the New England Revolution, the Union temporarily dropped out of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
The Union (9-9-11, 38 points) currently sit in sixth place, two points and one spot out of contention. With three of their final five matches at home, the Union are still very much in the mix for their second playoff berth in franchise history.
“We needed them,” Union goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi said of points left on the board. “We are on a run to the playoffs and while one point is still important, you’re still racing for the playoffs, so to have the maximum points is what every team wants. We’ll take the point, it’s better than nothing, but we really should’ve gotten the three tonight.”
Despite an emotional, intense 3-1 loss to the Sounders in the U.S. Open Cup title match last Tuesday, the Union responded with a gritty effort.
They had a number of opportunities to score in the first half – most notably Conor Casey in the sixth, 23rd and 36th minutes.
Philadelphia kept pushing after halftime and appeared to have a penalty kick when midfielder Vincent Nogueira looked to be taken down in the box by Houston's A.J. Cochran in the 84th minute.
No call was made.
“It’s a penalty for sure,” Union interim manager Jim Curtin said.
In stoppage time, Pedro Ribeiro had one last shot but hit the outside of the post.
The result was one point instead of three.
“I think we gave it a good effort but couldn’t get the one goal we needed for three points,” said Sebastien Le Toux. “We played hard and I think were a little bit unlucky. We got some chances to score but it ended up a scoreless draw and we leave with one point. I think we’re a little bit disappointed. The playoff race still has a long way to go. We have five matches left. We could have used three points tonight but we have to come back strong and get ready for the next one. Every match from here on out is going to be big.”
Mbolhi returned to the starting lineup and registered a clean sheet. Even though the Dynamo didn’t put a shot on goal, Mbolhi was pleased to be back.
“It felt great,” he said. “I’ve been back from (National Team duty with Algeria) for about 15 days now, so it was great to play. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the win, but I feel like we played really good tonight in both halves so it’s a good sign as we continue to battle for the playoffs.”
The next playoff-type match will come next Saturday at first place D.C. United (3 p.m., NBCSports). No match will be easy from here on out.
“We’ll have to rebound,” Curtin said. “It’s down to five games.”
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Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at email@example.com