For someone who had just stoned the reigning MLS MVP on a penalty kick on the final play of the game, Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath sounded remarkably subdued in the locker room following Saturday’s 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire.
That’s what will happen when your team had also just blown a lead in the final 10 minutes for the third time this season and the second time in as many weeks.
“It’s disappointing,” MacMath said. “That’s two games in a row we’ve given up a goal in the 80th-plus minute and that’s something we need to continue to work on. Going forward, you can’t give up goals like that.”
The late equalizer this time came in the 87th minute when Juan Luis Anangono headed home a free kick from Mike Magee (with former Union defender Bakary Soumare knocking it in by the goal line just to be safe).
Magee, last year’s MVP, then had the chance to score the game-winner deep in stoppage time when he lined up for a penalty kick after Union center back Aaron Wheeler was whistled for a foul in the box.
But MacMath – who later said “he had a good feeling he was gonna try to go low to the right” – made a dramatic point-preserving diving save, before thwarting Magee’s rebound attempt in equally dramatic fashion.
“Honestly, I just threw my body at him hoping it would hit me,” MacMath said. “And thankfully it did.”
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For Union manager John Hackworth, the final play was a good end to an otherwise dismal contest.
Calling it a “crazy MLS game” with brutal field conditions that “really disrupted” the way they wanted to play, Hackworth lamented how the Union allowed the Fire to run up and down the field and create a lot of havoc in the second half.
“I’ve coached long enough to have been through some of these [types of games] and they’re crazy,” Hackworth said. “I don’t know what to say but it’s one of those games where you just shake your head at some of the decisions we made. And then, in the end, Zac saves us and we walk out of here with a point.”
But aside from the Union taking a 2-1 lead behind Maurice Edu opening his Union scoring account and Leo Fernandes continuing his red-hot start, Hackworth found few positives from the outing, saying that he couldn’t “recall very many plays in the second half where we made the right play."
“In our locker room, they’re pissed off, their heads are down, they’re frustrated with our performance – as we should be.” Hackworth said. “And yet we know we’re capable of so much more.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.