CHESTER, Pa. — The Philadelphia Union were minutes away from taking a big step toward hosting just their second playoff game in franchise history.
Instead, they dropped two critical points vs. a team just behind them in the Eastern Conference table, giving up an 88th-minute goal off a post-corner kick scrum in a 1-1 draw with the Montreal Impact on Saturday.
For Union head coach Jim Curtin, the game brought back sour memories of a couple of other times his team gave up very late goals in draws, including one vs. San Jose in April and another vs. D.C. United last month.
“In the few games we’ve dropped points from being ahead now — San Jose, in D.C. and this one now — they’re from corner kicks, which is difficult because in the run of play, we’re still pretty tough to break down,” Curtin said. “I thought the guys did a good job on the night of limiting their chances. We’ll learn from it. We’ll watch the tape, but it’s a difficult way to end it, because the guys put so much into it. Everybody’s disappointed.”
The goal was certainly an unfortunate one for Philly as the Impact played a short corner that was looped into the box and flicked on, taking an awkward bounce over Union midfielder Warren Creavalle right to Matteo Mancosu at the back post.
Mancosu then headed it into the net to deny the fourth-place Union a chance to move into the top tier of the Eastern Conference and spoil a game in which Tranquillo Barnetta scored a stunning goal right before halftime.
“If you look at the run of the game, a good majority of the game, we were the better team and dominated through possession, chances created,” Creavalle said. “I think we were clearly the better team. It hurts.”
The Union were also frustrated that a penalty wasn’t called when Marco Donadel pushed Fabian Herbers in the box with Herbers calling it a “clear PK” and Curtin and the players agreeing.
At the same time, the Union rued their missed opportunity to score a second goal after going up 1-0 and bringing on attack-minded subs like Ilsinho and Roland Alberg, moves that Curtin afterwards defended.
And it’s that kind of killer instinct the Union know they need to find to ensure they don’t continue to drop these kind of points over the final five games of the season, including the next three on the road.
“It’s one of those games that really stings,” said Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya. “It kind of feels like a loss. You come off the field real deflated, but hey, it’s the playoff push. We just have to keep our heads up and stay strong and stick together and get as many points as we can for the rest of the games before the playoffs.”