The Philadelphia Union got goals from Cory Burke and Fafa Picault, but could not put away Orlando City SC, who scored in stoppage time to earn a 2-2 draw.
Union starting XI: Blake; Gaddis, Trusty, Elliott, Rosenberry; Bedoya, Medujanin; Picualt, Dockal (Jones 40′), Sapong (Ilsinho 62′ Accam 72′); Burke
Orlando City starting XI: Bendik; Spector, Ascues, O’Neill, Sutter; Rosell, Johnson (Mueller 76′); Yotun, Kljestan (Pinho 76′), Higuita (Colman 57′); Dwyer
Jim Curtin didn’t make any changes to the lineup he has been trotting in recent weeks, and why should he? The Union came into the match riding a 4-game winning streak. Orlando City on the other hand hadn’t won a game since July 14, and are in a battle with the Chicago Fire to stay out of the Eastern Conference cellar. Even being on the road, on paper this looked like a match the Union should win, setting things up for what could be a classic trap game.
The Union looked good early on, but it was the Lions who took an early lead in 9th minute when a free kick by Yoshimar Yotun from just outside the corner of the box went into the penalty area and Dom Dwyer headed it into the goal.
The game was a back-and-forth affair after that, with the Union getting more chances as the half wore on. Finally, the Union got the equalizer in the 38th minute when Burke headed in a service into the box from Borek Dockal.
The Union didn’t have too much time to enjoy the goal before they got a scare in the 39th minute. Sasha Kljestan took out Dockal on a hard tackle, and Dockal had to leave the match with an ankle injury. Derrick Jones came in, pushing up Alejandro Bedoya to take over Dockal’s number 10 role. The Union kept dictating the tempo, but couldn’t score, and the match was tied at halftime.
The Union kept the pressure on in the second half, but the injury bug hit them again when Ilsinho hobbled off the field just 10 minutes after he replaced C.J. Sapong. The injury was severe enough for the Union to use another substitution, with David Accam coming in to replace Ilsinho.
The Union kept dominating the run of play, and finally took the lead in the 88th minute. Picault was dribbling the ball around the edge of the penalty area, and when he finally took a shot, it deflected off Shane O’Neill and curved into the goal. With a 2-1 lead going into the dying minutes of the match, it looked like the boys in blue would take home 3 points.
But they didn’t. One minute into stoppage time, Josue Colman laid a ball up to Scott Sutter in the box, and Sutter didn’t miss when he took his shot. The Union ended up having to settle for a draw. And we get yet another chance to say, “That’s so Union.”
This one hurts a little because the Union were clearly the better team on the night, but could not secure the victory. Their winning streak is over, but their unbeaten streak is now 5 games (6 if you include the U.S. Open Cup semifinal win).
The Union now have a two-week break, and hopefully Ilsinho and Dockal can use that time to heal up. The next match will be at home vs. the Montreal Impact, and this will be a big one. The Impact are in sixth place, four points below the Union in the standings. A win by the U could put some much needed distance between themselves and the playoff red line.