Frustrated Union lament blown chance at three points

CHESTER, Pa. – Failing to come away with a home win when the opposing team scores on its only shot on goal is frustrating enough.

The fact that the said goal came against the run of play and only after a controversial no-call makes Saturday’s 1-1 tie against Real Salt Lake even more bitter for the Philadelphia Union.

“It’s very frustrating,” Union defender Jordan Harvey told MLSsoccer.com. “I thought we deserved three points. We had them on the ropes in the first half and we didn’t put them away, and it came back to bite us in the butt.”

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The Union certainly had Real Salt Lake on the ropes, especially through a 10-minute stretch midway through the first half when they got a goal from Keon Daniel, had another goal called back and hit two crossbars.

As it turned out, scoring one goal wasn’t enough to get the win, as RSL countered with a game-tying tally from Fabián Espíndola in the 53rd minute, a play that was generated only after what the Union believed was a foul on Jean Alexandre.

On the counter attack, Alexandre appeared to knock over Michael Farfan before playing a ball to Espindola, who, with the Philly defense back on its heels, had a nice cutback move and shot that beat Union ’keeper Faryd Mondragón.

“I definitely think it was a foul,” Farfan said. “I was getting to the ball when I was tripped up from behind. Whenever someone comes at you and trips you up, anything from behind is a foul.”

Union manager Peter Nowak was just as confident a whistle should have been blown, and expressed some anger in the postgame press conference, especially in the wake of another controversial call in last week’s game that gave the Rapids a questionable penalty kick.

“When you see the replay of the whole play, you just scratch your head why the whistle wasn’t blown,” Nowak said. “From week to week, we have to adjust to different rules. Maybe we have to ask U.S. Soccer to send us the new rules of officiating. …

“We gave them a chance, the referee gave them a chance to come back, they had one shot, and that’s it, the game is over,” the Union manager continued. “I think that the locker room is pretty disappointed.”

Perhaps the most disappointing part is that the Union defense, while still among the stingiest in the league, hasn’t posted a shutout in eight straight games. They had four clean sheets in their first six contests, and believe they should have added one more to that total Saturday at PPL.

“I thought we defended well,” Harvey said. “They couldn’t get anything. They couldn’t get a sniff when we were behind the ball. The only way they were really gonna get something was off a counter. It was definitely frustrating.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.