The Philadelphia Union played to a 2-2 tie with Orlando City SC in the second match of an away-and-home series against the Lions.
Union starting XI: Blake; Wagner (Real 89′), Collin, Elliott, Gaddis; Medunjanin, Aaronson (Fontana 78′), Bedoya, Fabian (Santos 67′); Picault, Przybylko
Orlando City SC starting XI: Rowe; Miller, De John, O’Neill (Nani 64′); Acosta, Smith; Ascues, Rosell, Powers; Dwyer (Patiño 81′), Michel (Mueller)
Thanks to a stormy Saturday, this match was delayed by over 20 hours. The postponement upset many a fan who were attending the match, but judging by the radar, I thought it was the right call. The conditions were far better the next day when kickoff occurred at 4:30 PM.
Head coach Jim Curtin was missing the services of Jamiro Monteiro, injured by a harsh challenge in the previous match by Sacha Kljestan, but Marco Fabian was finally back in the starting lineup after missing time with an injured ankle. Aurelien Collin got a rare start, with Auston Trusty getting a breather. And Andre Blake was back from international duty.
Unlike Jim Curtin, Orlando City head coach James O’Connor is capable of serious squad rotation. He made nine changes from the lineup he used Wednesday night. A couple were out of his hands. Kljestan was awarded a red card for that play that took Montiero out. Defender Robin Jansson was also out with a red card suspension. He decided to keep Nani and Chris Mueller, their top goal scorers, out of the starting lineup too. But they still had firepower with Dom Dwyer, who was back from paternity leave this week.
The Union came out swinging and wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, when Fabian scored in the fourth minute on a header from a Fafa Picault cross into the box. OCSC goalkeeper Brian Rowe had no chance.
The rest of the half was all Union. The Lions decided to keep five in the back, and didn’t threaten at all. The boys in blue took seven shots, but only two were on frame. They couldn’t get that second goal, which would come back to haunt them later.
The second half started out as more of the same, as the Union continued to control the run of play. But things changed when Nani replaced Shane O’Neill in the 64th minute. It only took Nani three minutes to create an assist to tie the game, as he put the ball into the 18-yard box where Dwyer was waiting to head it into the goal.
O’Connor was not done with the offensive subs. In the 74th minute he replaced Benji Michel with Mueller, and in the 81st minute replaced Dwyer with Santiago Patiño. Those move paid dividends immediately after the second substitution. Mueller headed a Lions corner towards goal, but Blake muffed the ball and Patiño was there to clean it up and give the Lions a 2-1 lead.
It wasn’t looking good heading into the death of the match when Curtin made his own effective sub. He replaced Kai Wagner with Matt Real in the 89th minute, and Real responded by providing an assist on a Przybylko goal one minute later.
Jack Elliott nearly scored a winning goal in stoppage time, but Rowe made a fantastic save to salvage a road point for the Lions.
Curtin noted after the match that “We’re in first place which is good be we should be a little more greedy.” Yes, you should, not getting that second goal until the 90th minute is not the way to go.
This is a match the Union should have won. They’ll get another chance for three points next Saturday when they travel to Real Salt Lake.
- Collin seemed to be getting hurt constantly. It’s good for Trusty to get some rest, but I’ll be happy to see him back.
- The Union are taking too many shots from distance. They need to take a little more time and work themselves farther inside.
- As Curtin noted in his press conference, they really missed Jamiro Monteiro. He can’t get back soon enough.