CHESTER, Pa. — It didn’t have the second half magic that sent the home fans into a frenzy two weeks ago, but head coach Jim Curtin said he was even more pleased with the Philadelphia Union’s 1-1 draw with LAFC here Saturday night than he was with their 3-1 win over Atlanta United.
“With their best 11 players on the field, which they had tonight, they’ve embarrassed teams,” Curtin said of LAFC. “I feel better passing that test (than the Atlanta win) because that’s a team that can put six goals in if you’re not on your game like we were tonight.”
The Union struck early through Kacper Przybylko, who was able to get to a cross from Fafa Picault with his head and loop it over LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller in the third minute. The early strike, the forward’s team-leading 14th of the season, ignited the crowd of 19,148, the third largest crowd in Talen Energy Stadium history.
“I think we showed what we’ve done all year, that’s match up against any team that’s played against us,” Union forward Fafa Picault said.
LAFC, which wrapped up the Western Conference thanks to a Minnesota United loss on Wednesday, leveled through Carlos Vela's 28th goal of the season in his return from injury after a ball that caromed off the crossbar fell to him in the box. Vela missed the last two games with a hamstring injury.
The teams traded chances the rest of the way without either side finding a winner despite some bright attacking moments late from Union substitute Sergio Santos.
“They’re hard; high energy, some individually athletic,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said of the Union. “I said to our team at halftime that I thought at times in the first half in terms of reactions to second balls and that kind of thing we weren’t as good (and) if you allow them an advantage in those moments that’s something they do well.”
LAFC outshot the Union 16-9, but only put four of those shots on frame, forcing Andre Blake into a couple of critical saves. The Jamaican international finished with three saves on the night to his counterpart's two, which included a denial on Brenden Aaronson in the first half that would have put the visitors in a 2-0 hole.
"If you ask me, I think tonight was an even game,” Blake said. “There were moments where I think we had the better chances. They’re a very good team and I think it was a very good game tonight and I think we were a little bit unlucky not to get all three points but we can live with a point.”