Saturday, June 27, 2015

Union salvage a point in downpour at PPL Park

Maurice Edu
By John McMullen

Chester, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - Maurice Edu scored the equalizer late in the second half as the Union escaped with a point against Montreal at a rainy PPL Park on Saturday night.

Holding a precarious 2-1 advantage thanks to former Union star Jack McInerney, Montreal faltered in the 75th minute when Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush stopped Fabinho's blast from distance but failed to corral the rebound with Edu on the doorstep.

The defender calmly slipped it by Bush for his first goal of the season in what turned out to be a 2-2 final.

"We needed a goal." Edu said. "We were all trying to get on the end of the set piece. It came out to Fabi, who did well to take a good shot and keep it on frame. I was just trying to follow up and pray that the goalie would make a mistake, which he did. 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."

Philadelphia (5-10-4, 19 points) nearly won it in the 83rd minute when Richie Marquez's header found the net but it was waived off when the Union were ruled offsides.

"A wild, game end to end," Union coach Jim Curtin said. "I thought we started the game well in the first 20-25 minutes. I thought we were good. We hit he goal, they came at us a little bit." 

The majority of the match was played in a hard, driving rain on the Delaware River.

"Were the conditions crazy? Yeah, absolutely and the field might not look like it from up high but the wind was incredibly strong in the first half, it kind of faded in the second half," Curtin said. "It was in our face in the first half. We didn’t get a chance to go with it because the weather changed a bit. Certainly a strange game in terms of weather."

Philadelphia took the early advantage in the eighth minute when Chaco Maidana's entry pass found C.J. Sapong, who tapped it back to the waiting Erik Ayuk and the youngster blasted it past Bush, finding the top-right corner.

The Impact (5-6-3, 18 points) evened things in the 28th minute when Union netminder Brian Sylvestre's defense let him down. Ignacio Piatti maneuvered in the middle of the pitch with little resistance from center backs Edu and Marquez. The extra space was all Piatti needed as he hit a curling ball from
the top of the box that easily beat Sylvestre on his left side.

"Piatti started to find space between our mid field and back line, obviously he’s a special player," Curtin said. "To see him now in our first game against them, he’s very good. He gets the goal for them kind of from nothing. He was the first shot they had on goal."

McInerney, one of the best goal scorers in Union history, put Montreal on top in the 70th minute when he easily circumvented Marquez to deposit one behind Sylvestre despite the fact the Impact was playing a man down after Patrice Bernier was sent off with his second yellow card in the 67th minute.

That advantage was wasted by the Union after Edu tied it, though, because Ayuk was sent off in the 77th minute with his second yellow card.

"There were obviously some great moments (with Ayuk), the goal," Curtin said. "He’s got to be smart playing on a yellow card, I thought we had a lot of momentum at that stage once we tie it up and had about 20 minutes to really press the game and create chances which we were doing all night. I saw the stats that they had 38 clearances inside the 18 so difficult that we didn’t get the goal but at the same time we dodged a bullet or two at the end."

Montreal's best chance to take the three points came in the 78th when Piatti found himself in front with a wide open net but slipped on the wet pitch and couldn't get it off.

Union Dues:

-Montreal, which had only scored four goals in seven road games coming in, has never won at PPL Park in MLS play, and is now 0-2-3 in Chester.

- The Union's substitutions were Andrew Wenger for Zach Pfeffer in the 57th minute, Fred for Brian Carroll in the 72nd and Sheanon Williams for Maidana in the 81st.

-The dismal forecast forced the Union to postpone their annual fireworks show to July 11 after the scheduled game that night against the Portland Timbers.

-Sapong had scored in four straight matches, tying the club record originally set by McInerney in 2012. McInerney, meanwhile, entered in the 60th minute as a substitution and is tied for the Impact's team lead with four goals this season.

-Veteran Union goal scorer Sebastien Le Toux remained sidelined for the third consecutive match with a knee sprain while MF Michael Lahoud (thigh), F Fernando Aristeguieta (leg), F Conor Casey (thigh) and D Steven Vitoria (hamstring) were also out.

-Williams was not in the starting lineup despite playing one of his best games of the season on Wednesday against Seattle. Raymon Gaddis replaced Williams which came off as rotating for the sake of rotating by Jim Curtin.
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