Home draw "feels like a loss" for Union after giving up late equalizer


CHESTER, Pa. – Over the last few seasons, one of the Philadelphia Union’s biggest problems had been giving up late leads, sometimes even while up a man.

Early in the 2016 campaign, the new-look Union seemed to have moved past that old bugaboo as they surged to the top of the Eastern Conference. But on Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium, Philadelphia's game-closing shortcomings returned as the Union gave up an 83rd-minute goal while up a man in a disappointing 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes.

“This one’s tough,” center back Richie Marquez told MLSsoccer.com. “It kind of feels like a loss. I thought we were pushing for the second goal and for them to tie it was heartbreaking.”

The Union certainly looked poised to build off Chris Pontius’ 30th-minute goal as striker C.J. Sapong got a couple of great scoring chances in front of the net. And few would have expected a Quakes team that struggles on the East Coast to mount a comeback after Anibal Godoy was shown to the locker room after picking up his second yellow in the 59th minute.

But down a man, San Jose began to take control of the game late in the second half, getting a couple of chances before Simon Dawkins tied the game with a brilliant goal in the 83rd minute.

“They’re a very good team and we let them hang around,” Union goalkeeper Andre Blake said. “We went up one goal and we probably should have went up two. They went down a man and we kind of got relaxed. We probably should have kept going and got a couple of more goals. We didn’t handle the situation correctly.”

Head coach Jim Curtin didn’t question his team’s effort after the game but did admit his team tired late and “hit a wall.” And that, in turn, led to some sloppiness.

“We got a little careless with the ball,” Curtin said. “I think from about the 45 to the 75th minute, we were under control, we were creating chances and we were pushing the tempo. … For whatever reason, a couple of bounces started to go their way. And we were unable to get back to keeping the ball and killing the game off.”

While the result probably brought back some bad memories for the Union, who last year conceded 12 points from the 74th minute on, the players insist this is a different team. And it’s a team that, despite Saturday’s disappointing outcome, currently sits in second place in the Eastern Conference with a 4-3-1 mark.

“I don’t believe that’s our identity anymore,” midfielder Warren Creavalle said. “I believe today we had one lapse. We have to have a killer instinct and finish out games.”