Giving up one game-tying goal deep in stoppage time while up a man was tough enough for the Philadelphia Union.
Having the same time thing happen twice in one week?
“The locker room is gutted right now,” manager John Hackworth said.
On Wednesday, for the second time in five days, the Union squandered a late lead at the death, settling for a 2-2 draw against 10-man Real Salt Lake after a Ray Gaddis hand ball led to a 97th-minute penalty-kick goal from Javier Morales.
Remarkably, the Union also allowed a 97th-minute goal in a 2-2 draw against 10-man FC Dallas last Saturday.
“I’m losing a lot of hair,” Hackworth said. “I’m aging like crazy. We’ve just got to improve. This is the second time in a row we’ve lost points at the very, very end of the game. There have been a couple of silly mistakes on our part. We just need to learn.”
After the Dallas game, Hackworth complained that that the game-tying goal from Blas Pérez came too late and that there should have been a fouled called right before it. This time, the Union manager didn’t blame the refs – but he did point out that Gaddis was “pushed in the back, which is the reason why he was going forward and his arms were flailing.”
Hackworth also stuck up for Sébastien Le Toux, who scored the game’s first goal after a beautiful set-up by Conor Casey but missed a golden opportunity to put the Union up 3-1 when RSL goalkeeper Josh Saunders stoned him on a breakaway in the third minute of stoppage time.
“You look back at the game film and that one’s going to be tough,” Hackworth said. “But Josh makes a great save on it too. And Sébastien had done so much work in that game.”
Hackworth was also quick to praise Casey for his dominant one-goal, one-assist evening, as well as rookie Leo Fernandes, who made his first start of the season because of injuries and the Gold Cup absences of Keon Daniel and Jack McInerney.
And the fact that the Union were able to pick up their first-ever point at Rio Tinto Stadium is not something he wanted to dismiss, even if RSL were undermanned following Lovel Palmer's red card in the 59th minute.
But Hackworth also knows his team must do better protecting leads while playing up a man – which, remarkably, has happened in four of their past five games.
“If you would have told me coming into this game I would have had a point, I would have said, ‘I’ll take it,’” Hackworth said. “But the way it went down, we’re disappointed.
“Two times in five days is hard to swallow.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.