Blake Houston

Blake makes six saves, but Union fall 1-0 on late Cristian Maidana goal

At the end of a brutal six-game stretch in 18 days, the Union were mere seconds away from a road point in Houston, but they were denied by Cristian Maidana, who sealed the Dynamo’s 1-0 win in the fifth minute of stoppage time with a free kick from 20 yards out.

It was a frustrating end to the night for the Union, who had just been sent to 10 men a few minutes earlier on a questionable second yellow card to Josh Yaro.

“Disappointing to drop a point that late,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “We’ve been playing Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday for a while now and we just couldn’t find the extra energy to get a goal out of the night.”

Andre Blake did all he could, making six saves with some of his usual spectacular variety. The six saves were the most he’s had made since May 14, and Blake also was just a minute away from his first shutout since May 20. That should help quell the rumors of his sub-standard play since returning from the Copa America Centenario break.

As for the offense, the Union couldn’t muster much without their trio of injured forwards, C.J. Sapong (ankle sprain), Fabian Herbers (hamstring) and Sebastien Le Toux (concussion). While Sapong played the final 30 minutes and instantly provided a spark to the offense, the Union couldn’t get a whole lot clicking over the first hour with Roland Alberg deployed in a false 9 role.

“I thought Roland, playing out of position, did a good job, holding the ball up and getting some fouls,” Curtin said. “It’s not his ideal spot – we had to juggle some things because we were a little thin.”

Scoreless after the first hour, substitutes Sapong and Leo Fernandes certainly had some impact. In the 66th minute, Sapong had arguably one of the Union’s best chances making a late run for a pass from Chris Pontius that was blocked out for a corner. He also forced a save later in the match, while the two substitutes combined for three shot attempts.

But before Maidana’s late goal, the play of the night had seemed to come in the 81st minute when Fabinho cleared a ball off the line from a Dynamo corner. The veteran left back chested away a ball at the near corner, preserving the scoreless game.

The Union return to action Saturday, July  9, at Talen Energy Stadium against D.C. United. The match will be the team’s annual firework night.  

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