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John Hackworth optimistic, but Philadelphia Union players glum after another "poor day" in front of goal

CHESTER, Pa. – Sitting quietly in front of his locker, Andrew Wenger let out a long sigh when asked about his team finishing Saturday’s game with zero shots on goal.

It seemed the club’s new striker was equally amazed and depressed that the Philadelphia Union had so few chances to score in Saturday’s scoreless draw with the Houston Dynamo – despite playing at home and going up a man for the final eight minutes plus stoppage time.

“It’s a poor day,” Wenger told MLSsoccer.com. “We can only ask questions of ourselves – myself in particular.”

Wenger probably had the best chance to find the back of the net, firing a shot from inside the box over the bar in stoppage time. Earlier in the second half, he raced down the field on a breakaway and played a ball to Conor Casey, whose mishit shot was blocked before it reached Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.

“I just didn’t get the ball down,” Casey said. “Obviously it’s frustrating to have a chance like that and not put it away.”

Remarkably, the Union have now gone 124 minutes without attempting a shot on goal and haven’t scored from the run of play in their last two games.
But a few days after expressing great frustration over the Union’s 2-1 midweek loss to the Red Bulls, manager John Hackworth decided to focus on the positives Saturday – namely, that the Union still had chances to score despite Hall making zero saves.

“The stats can tell you there isn’t a shot on goal, but the fact is that we had a couple of sitters,” Hackworth said. “Conor, unfortunately, his plant foot slips on the one that is a wide-open goal. We had a couple of plays where the ball goes across the back post and Mo [Edu] has it on one, then it just slips away. It’s not a case of us not creating enough chances in a game.”

Hackworth was also pleased that the Union “dominated possession” and “defended pretty well” despite what he called a “shaky start.”

But the tone was far gloomier in the locker room, where the players lamented not being able to score while getting outplayed in what they all agreed was a dismal first half.

“It’s unbelievable to be at home,” center back Amobi Okugo said, “and not even have a shot in the first half.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.