Saturday, March 21, 2015

Red card costs Union against FC Dallas

Former Union GK Chris Seitz stoned his old club
By John McMullen

Chester, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - Undisciplined play cost the Philadelphia Union on Saturday in front of 16,031 at PPL Park as the home side was whitewashed by FC Dallas, 2-0.

It was the first setback of the season for the Union (0-1-2) after back-to-back draws against Colorado and Real Salt Lake. FC Dallas (3-0-0), meanwhile, is the only MLS team with the maximum number of points through three matches.

The turning point of the game came in the 41st minute when Union midfielder Zach Pfeffer, making his fourth career start in place of the injured Cristian Maidana, was shown a red card and tossed for elbowing Mauro Diaz of FC Dallas.

“I’ll have to look at the tape again but it’s two short guys running full speed,” Union coach Jim Curtin said. “Diaz looked to make a sharp cut back and there is a contact with the face. That was a big crack down. We always have these initiatives in the off season with what they’re (referees) going to crack down on and that was one of them so I guess maybe it was premature to immediately flash the red.”

Philadelphia was outplaying FC Dallas to that point but playing a man down against the powerful club from North Texas was too much to ask.

Tesho Akindele opened the scoring for Dallas in the 49th minute, interrupting a clearing attempt by Fabinho, in for an injured Sheanon Williams,  before beating Union goalkeeper Rais M'bolhi to the short side.

“It hurts – injuries are always going to affect you because now you’re going to your bench,” Curtin said of Williams' absence after the defender was removed due to a strained hamstring in the 22nd minute.

Less than 10 minutes later Dallas added another when Fabian Castillo tried a cross that missed its intended target but did find Ryan Hollingshead outside the box, who finished from distance to put FCD up 2-0.

Dallas netminder Chris Seitz, who was the Union's GK in the club's inaugural season, had five saves and has allowed just one goal in FCD's three matches this season.

He was tested early when Sebastien Le Toux unleashed some fancy footwork in the 7th minute, setting up Andrew Wenger but Seitz was up to the task.

In the 15th minute, Williams' throw-in nearly found a head in the box before being punched away by Seitz.

The Union actually outshot FCD 8-3 at the half and was up 4-2 on corner kicks but Pfeffer's mental mistake changed the complexion of things. By the end Philadelphia still has a 12-10 advantage in shots, including a 5-3 edge on goal.

“I thought the game had a good tempo to it, good start,” Curtin said. “I thought we had some good chances in the first 10 minutes. We had some real good looks at goal. We were kind of clinical with our chance. The red card happens and from there, credit to Dallas, they out-played us from that point on. They’re a good team and anytime you’re going to play down a man with stoppage time it’s going to be difficult.”

The contest was originally scheduled for Friday but was postponed a day due to the spring snowstorm that blanketed the area.

Next up for the Union is a visit to Bridgeview, Ill. for a bout against the Chicago Fire on March 29.

“We have to go on the road and get a result now,” Curtin said. “We’ve got behind the eight ball but you have to win your home games. Ideally, I had us on six points in three games. We’re on two points now but the goal was a least six or more so we’re behind. We have to go somewhere now and win on the road.”

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