While the firework display was postponed due to inclement weather Saturday night, there was plenty of action on the field at PPL Park. For the 17,531 paid attendance – noticeably fewer in the stands – there was a little bit of everything; cards (some of them red), goals (some of them beauties) and rain (lots and lots of rain).
But at the end of the night, the Union plucked out a point against Montreal Impact in a 2-2 draw that was saved with a Maurice Edu equalizer in the 76th minute.
"A wild, game end to end," Curtin said. "I thought we started the game well in the first 20-25 minutes. But difficult, dropped two points tonight so I'm disappointed in that regard."
While it rained for pretty much the entire day in Chester, it really picked up right at kickoff. That didn’t bug the Union.
Eric Ayuk scored his second goal of the year on an absolute screamer in the eighth minute that might have been the best Union goal of the year. Cristian Maidana sent a ball in the box for C.J. Sapong, who brilliantly laid it off for Ayuk. The 18-year-old Cameroonian midfielder then one-touched a blast past Impact keeper Evan Bush.
“Before we came out he told me that I should always stay [for lay-offs] near the post,” Ayuk said. “Sometimes I’m out too far from him and sometimes I’m too close, so let me just stay near the top [of the box]. I was watching the goalkeeper and took my chance.”
But the lead didn’t last long. A defensive breakdown gave Ignacio Piatti a little room in the 28th minute and he made no mistake by equalizing from about 18 yards out.
Tied at half, things started to get chippy in the second half. In a game that featured 32 fouls and seven cards, the Impact were the first to fall victim. Patrice Bernier picked up his second yellow card in the 67th minute, giving the Union a one-man advantage.
But an advantage it was not. Former Union player Jack McInerney scored a beauty of his own, getting in one-on-one against Richie Marquez, before blasting one past goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre to give Montreal the lead.
But the Union pressed on. Edu’s first goal of the season came on a rebound from an absolute blast from Fabinho. The left back rocketed a shot from about 30 yards out that Bush barely saw in time to parry away. But it fell right to Edu at the six and the Union captain made no mistake on the equalizer.
“I was just trying to follow up and pray that the goalie would make a mistake, which he did,” Edu said. “He made the save and then it came out and I was there in the right place at the right time. It’s a credit to Fabi keeping that play alive.”
The Union could not keep that momentum, though. Ayuk was sent off a minute later for his second yellow card and both sides were down to 10 men. Still, they had two glorious chances to pull ahead in consecutive minutes late, but Edu just missed a cross in and Marquez’s headed goal was called back for offsides.
Despite the torrential rain all day, the field was in pretty good condition. But playing in that type of atmosphere certainly had an effect on the players, especially the defenders.
“It’s difficult because you have to be composed, be smart, and you’ve got to try to stay on your feet and not dive in or bite,” Edu said. “But at the same time it’s a little bit more difficult on this surface. And I think it played both ways, it played an advantage for us at times, it played an advantage for them too.”
Said Marquez: “In the back we had to play it safe and be more careful. Obviously it rained the entire game but you’ve got to come with the same mentality and stay just as focused if not a little more focused than usual.”
Next up for the Union is D.C. United on Tuesday in the Round of 16 for the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. That game will be at PPL Park with kick-off slated for 7 p.m.
“So to get a point here is alright,” Edu said. “We keep our heads up. Now we’ve got an Open Cup game and a little bit of a break so we can get refocused again for the league.”
Contact Union press officer Chris Winkler at email@example.com.