CHESTER, Pa. – After surrendering a career-worst four goals, including an own-goal that came off his face, in the Philadelphia Union’s 4-1 defeat to the LA Galaxy last week, goalkeeper Zac MacMath didn’t try to forget about the rough performance.
Instead, he rewatched the entire game that very night.
And that, he said, helped him make six saves to earn a shutout against the Chicago Fire just three days later.
“I knew I was going to learn from it,” MacMath told MLSsoccer.com following Philly’s 1-0 win over Chicago on Saturday. “I think I made a couple of plays [Saturday] that I saw from Wednesday night that I didn’t make. That’s the biggest difference in trying to learn and take those experiences and make good of them.”
MacMath said he focused on coming off his line better, playing with more confidence and being stronger with the ball than he was against the Galaxy. And Union manager John Hackworth was proud of how his 21-year-old starting goalkeeper was able to bounce back.
“I think he showed some resilience, some character,” Hackworth said. “I have full confidence in him. I know what he’s capable of, know what kind of person he is and what kind of athlete he is.”
Interestingly enough, MacMath also made six saves to earn a shutout against the Fire a week earlier in what was probably the best game of his young career. And for his Union teammates, those two victories far outweigh Wednesday’s lopsided loss to the two-time defending champs.
“Any time you can get two shutouts in this league, it’s a good week,” Union captain Brian Carroll said. “The midweek game is not on Zac. It’s on all of us.”
That point was reiterated by other Union players with right back Sheanon Williams noting that he thought MacMath played well against LA, given that most of the Galaxy’s goals came from breakaways
And even when MacMath does give up a lot of goals – he also surrendered four in his first career start against the New England Revolution two seasons ago – he's been able to brush it off and come back strong.
“Any time you have a young player, they’re going to have ups and downs, especially early in their career,” Williams said. “It’s so tough for a goalie, just because your mistakes are magnified so much. You’re supposed to play mistake-free. But Zac’s done a great job this year and we trust him with everything.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.