Saturday, August 25, 2012

Union and RSL play to scoreless draw

Chester, Pa. (The Phanatic Magazine) – The Union endured a frustrating Friday under the lights at PPL Park after being held to a goalless draw by Real Salt Lake in a game which featured few clear cut chances.

Union manager John Hackworth made two changes to the side which recorded a hard-earned point away to D.C. United last weekend – one enforced – as speedy youngster Raymon Gaddis deputized for the suspended Sheanon Williams at right back, while Freddy Adu made way for Gabriel Gómez who missed last week’s game following international duty with Panama.

The game got off to a cagey start on a humid evening on the banks of the Delaware River as both sides tried to establish an early rhythm; the visitors perhaps showing the heavy legs of a side which was in Champions League action on Tuesday.

Real Salt Lake’s conservative approach to pushing forward en masse – leaving little space in behind for the Union to exploit – would add to a game of few opportunities, with Chris Wingert’s speculative strike over Zach MacMath’s Union crossbar in the opening minute not offering an indication of things to come.

With the pursuit of Playoff positions in mind, the Union were keen to assert themselves in front of a sell-out home crowd and were unlucky on two occasions as Danny Cruz was pressured off an attacking aerial ball ten minutes in and Michael Farfan had a shot blocked after a neat lay off by Jack McInerney.

The visitors, pushing for the Supporters Shield in a promising second position in the Western Conference, looked their most dangerous from set pieces; Kwame Watson-Siriboe’s menacing presence putting the Union defense under pressure 15 minutes in as Carlos Valdés was forced to hook the ball clear of danger.

The game would follow a similar course of tentative attacking and largely exemplary defending for the remainder of the opening period until just three minutes before the break when the Union almost found the opener.

Michael Farfan’s knock-down in the RSL box was straight into the path of Cruz, but the onrushing home debutant could only steer his shot agonizingly over goalkeeper Nick Rimando and into the River End as the headline writers watched on in anticipation.

The Union emerged quicker off the blocks at the start of the second period and would go on to dominate both possession and attempts on goal as they looked to seal a valuable three points.

Carlos Valdés underlined the home side’s eagerness just two minutes after the restart, making a fine effort to wrestle the ball over the line following a corner before Jack McInerney’s volley forced goalkeeper Nick Rimando into a routine save.

Despite facing one of the most respected midfield units in MLS, John Hackworth’s Union would continue to look the most likely scorers.

First referee Jair Marrufo was forced to wave away muted penalty appeals as Brian Carroll fell in the box after Antoine Hoppenot’s sliced volley and substitute Freddy Adu was unlucky to be muscled out after a sharp dart into the box.

RSL sub Jonny Steele almost completed the ultimate smash and grab for the visitors when he threatened at the feet of Zac MacMath but it was the Union who would ultimately feel the most frustrated as Antoine Hoppenot beat Rimando to the ball before cracking a shot off the outside of the post from a tight angle as PPL Park held its breath in stoppage time.

FULL TIME: Philadelphia Union 0-0 Real Salt Lake



PHILADELPHIA UNION: Zac MacMath; Raymon Gaddis, Gabriel Farfan, Carlos Valdés (c), Amobi Okugo; Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Michael Farfan; Gabriel Gómez (Freddy Adu, 82), Danny Cruz (Antoine Hoppenot, 71), Jack McInerney

Subs not used: Chase Harrison, Chris Albright, Porfirio Lopez, , Keon Daniel, Josue Martinez,.

REAL SALT LAKE: Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Chris Wingert, Kyle Beckerman (c), Ned Grabavoy (Yordany Álvarez, 74), Will Johnson, Luis Gil (Jonny Steele, 62), Javier Morales (Paulo Jr., 87), Alvaro Sabório.

Subs not used: Kyle Reynish, Chris Schuler, Sebastian Velasquez, Justin Braun,

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