CHESTER, Pa. – A lightning delay stopped the game for nearly an hour and both goalkeepers stopped every shot fired their way as the Philadelphia Union and visiting Portland Timbers battled to a scoreless draw Saturday at PPL Park.
Philadelphia’s Zac MacMath and Portland’s Donovan Ricketts finished with four saves apiece, many of them coming on close-range shots.
With the result, the Union (8-6-7) extended their home unbeaten streak to five games while the Timbers (8-2-10) earned their eighth road draw in 11 games this season. The Timbers have still never lost to the Union in four all-time matchups.
Following the lengthy halftime weather delay, both teams came out of the locker room pressing hard for the game’s first goal.
Ricketts made one of the biggest saves of the night in the 71st minute, leaping to stop a Conor Casey blast following a great ball from Jack McInerney.
The Union had other chances to score before the final whistle but a sneaky long-range chip shot from Sheanon Williams just missed in the 77th minute and second-half sub Leo Fernandes pinged one from distance off the crossbar in the 88th minute.
Earlier, in the 55th minute, MacMath made a huge save on Portland’s Diego Valeri, who made a quick turn and fired a close-range shot inside the box. MacMath also smothered a long free kick from Frederik Piquionne in the 63rd minute and pounced on a loose ball minutes later.
In the first half, MacMath made a big foot save on Ryan Johnson in the 24th minute and thwarted a sliding shot from Jack Jewsbury four minutes later.
For the Union, Danny Cruz created the most offense before the break. Despite being leveled by Ricketts in the 32nd minute, the Union winger split a pair of defenders at the edge of the box juts minutes before putting a big shot on net that Ricketts saved. Cruz finished the first half with four shots.
Both teams got a boost with Timbers midfielder Will Johnson and McInerney returning from Gold Cup duty.
The Union, though, were without manager John Hackworth, who was serving a one-game suspension for getting ejected in last week’s game. Top assistant Rob Vartughian coached the team in his place.
Both teams return to action next Saturday with the Union traveling to Vancouver and Portland facing San Jose on the road.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Donovan Ricketts||Two more spectactular stops and some all-around solid play from the veteran.|
|2||Zac MacMath||Wasn't tested from the flanks - his usual weakeness - so he was able to show his top-notch shot-stopping skills.|
|3||Andrew Jean-Baptiste||His first 45 was as good a half of soccer as a center back can play. Second 45 was merely "really good."|