CHESTER, Pa. – US national team midfielders Maurice Edu and Kyle Beckerman exchanged dramatic goals in the final minutes at PPL Park on Saturday afternoon, as the Philadelphia Union and Real Salt Lake battled to a 2-2 draw.
With the Union about to suffer what would have been a gut-wrenching loss, Edu salvaged a point when he headed in a Cristián Maidana corner kick in the 90th minute. It was the second goal in as many weeks for Edu, who earlier this month also made his first appearance with the US national team in more than a year.
Five minutes prior to that goal, Beckerman quieted the home crowd with his second strike of the season, putting RSL ahead 2-1 with a one-time shot set up by a brilliant Javier Morales cut-back and hard work by Sebastian Velasquez to get the ball to Morales.
Beckerman's goal appeared to spoil a storybook Philadelphia Union debut for Andrew Wenger, who scored a tying goal in the second half just one week after being traded from Montreal for Jack McInerney.
Luke Mulholland also scored for RSL, who remain one of two unbeaten teams in MLS, along with FC Dallas. Real Salt Lake (2-0-4) have never lost to the Union, sporting a 2-0-5 all-time record against Philadelphia, including four ties at PPL Park. The Union (1-1-4) have not won in their last four contests and have settled for ties in their last three games.
Real Salt Lake opened the scoring early after Union center back Austin Berry, returning from a three-game absence, took down Olmes Garcia at the edge of the penalty area and was whistled for the foul. Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath – who stoned Mike Magee on a penalty kick in the final minute of last week’s 2-2 draw with Chicago – stopped his second PK in as many weeks, this time on Alvaro Saborío. But Mulholland timed his run into the penalty area to beat everyone to the rebound and slot home a sixth-minute goal, his second of the season.
Wenger – who got the start in his first game with the Union following the trade – nearly tied the game in the 15th minute when he ran onto a bouncing over-the-top ball, but his volley skimmed the top of the crossbar. The Union did not put a single shot on goal in the first half, but Wenger opened his Union scoring account in the 55th minute to inject some life into the restless PPL Park crowd.
His goal – the first allowed by Salt Lake in 290 minutes – came on a perfect, chipped long ball from Vincent Nogueira, with Wenger controlling it with his chest and beating RSL goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, who was starting in place of the injured Nick Rimando for the second straight game. Rimando was among several absences for RSL, who were also missing Joao Plata (hamstring), Luis Gil (hamstring) and Robbie Findley (knee).
The Union thought they drew a penalty kick of their own in the 71st minute, but referee Alan Kelly ruled that Mulholland had tackled the ball away from Leo Fernandes as he wound up for a shot in the middle of the penalty area. In the 79th minute, Fernandes nearly made amends with a great flick to Conor Casey, whose close-range shot went over the bar.
MacMath needed to make multiple saves in the second half to keep the game level at 1-1, stopping Saborío on a breakaway in the 74th minute and then knocking away a Devon Sandoval shot in the 78th minute. The Union goalkeeper finished with five saves.
Saturday’s contest marks the only time these two teams will play this season. Real Salt Lake returns home to face Portland next Saturday. The Union continue a three-game-in-eight-day stretch with a Wednesday game against New York at Red Bull Arena.
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||Javier Morales||Fun to watch as always, seemed to set up every RSL chance throughout the game and used great vision on second goal.|
|2||Vincent Nogueira||Hit accurate long-range switches all day, served as focal point of Union offense, and chipped perfect pass to set up Wenger's goal.|
|3||Zac MacMath||Saved another penalty kick, not at fault on either goal, and showed good control of his box. All that in addition to several big reactions tops.|