Philadelphia Union head into break anxious to "turn it up a notch" in second half

CHESTER, Pa. – For the sixth straight time this season, the Philadelphia Union played a game inside their home stadium and failed to get a win. And of all of the disappointing results, Saturday’s 3-3 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps probably had one of the most frustrating endings with Pedro Morales drilling a game-tying penalty kick in the final 10 minutes.

Nevertheless, after scoring three goals in an eight-minute stretch in the second half to wipe away a 2-0 deficit, the Union walked away from the contest feeling hopeful that their season can turn around after the upcoming World Cup break.

“To be honest, that’s the first time we tied a game and it actually felt like a tie and not a loss,” Union defender Sheanon Williams said. “I think that moving forward we can definitely improve on this.”

Williams admitted Vancouver’s penalty kick was “pretty heartbreaking” and Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath was frustrated that he got called for the foul on Darren Mattocks that led to the penalty kick, saying that he “thought [Mattocks] took a little bit of a bad touch and he steps on my forearm and falls down.”

But all in all, the mood was a positive one in the locker room as the Union (3-7-6) go into the three-week break from league matches with four points in their last two games and a glimmer of hope for the second half of the season.

“Throughout the season you go through peaks and valleys,” center back Amobi Okugo said. “I feel like we went though enough valleys in the beginning of the season. I’m looking forward to the second half of the season where we can turn it up a notch, and I feel like things are going to change.”

Saturday’s game certainly had its fair share of peaks and valleys, as the team continued its defensive struggles by giving up a pair of first-half goals, only to storm back on the strength of the budding Cristian Maidana-Conor Casey connection to go ahead 3-2 and ignite the sellout crowd.

After the game, Union manager John Hackworth called the wide-open, back-and-forth game a “roller coaster of emotion – and it’s not one you really want to have.” But he, too, felt the guts the team showed is a positive they can build off when they play their next league match on June 28.

“It’s frustrating that we didn’t get three points in that game,” Hackworth said. “And at the same time, there was a lot of character shown from our team to come back and put in that kind of energy.”

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