Mondragón shows his mettle in Union's dramatic draw
CHESTER, Pa. — Throughout the season, Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón has been a stabilizing, veteran presence in net, even if he hasn’t been tasked with making very many tough saves.
On Wednesday night, the star Colombian showed Union fans two more things in his repertoire: the ability to singlehandedly keep his team in the game and the guts to play through injury.
Against a relentless LA Galaxy attack, Mondragón was brilliant, making two huge stops on close-range shots from Chris Birchall and Juan Pablo Ángel within minutes of each other in the second half. He later fought through a strained groin to help Philly preserve the 1-1 tie.
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
“He kept us in the game when the moments were big for us,” defender Danny Califf told MLSsoccer.com. “He showed why he’s the captain and why he has so much experience.”
In the postgame press conference, Union coach John Hackworth admitted there was a nervous moment late in Wednesday’s game when Mondragón signaled for a substitute. But with the team still trailing by a goal, Hackworth had a message for trainer Paul Rushing, who attended to the ’keeper in the 78th minute.
“I said, ‘Paulie, if you get to him, tell him he’s got to stay in this game. Somehow, some way, he’s got to stay in the game. We have another attacker that we have to bring on, we have to get one back here.’” Hackworth recalled. “To Faryd’s credit, he said, ‘I’m not going to be close to 100 percent, but the team needs me.’”
Mondragón, who was being treated long after the game ended, was unavailable for comment in the locker room following his three-save evening.
WATCH: Mondragón stones Birchall
But after being evaluated by team doctors a day later, two Union officials confirmed the goalkeeper is probable for Saturday’s game in Dallas (8:30 pm ET, Direct Kick and MatchDay Live).
That’s good news for the Union (4-2-2), who would lose a lot of experience if Mondragón were sidelined. Backup ’keeper Zac MacMath may be a rising star in this league, but he’s still only a rookie.
“He gives us so much confidence,” Califf said of Mondragón. “As defenders, we don’t have to necessarily be perfect on every play. We don’t have to play for not making a mistake; you play just to play. Knowing that mistakes happen or if the ref misses an offsides call, he’s there to bail us out regardless.”
Before Wednesday’s game, Mondragón hadn’t needed to make many saves, mainly because the Union’s starting defense of Califf, Carlos Valdés, Sheanon Williams and Jordan Harvey had been so stingy. But his teammates have known all along what kind of ball-stopping ability the renowned Colombian brings to the table.
“He’s made big saves in practice,” Harvey said. “I’m not surprised he made them in a game. He’s a good goalie with loads of experience. We have a lot of confidence in him. When he makes big saves like that, you know it’s a good day.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.