John McCarthy made six saves in an exceptional 90 minutes of fill-in duty for Andre Blake, Roland Alberg leveled on a second-half penalty earned by C.J. Sapong and the Philadelphia Union clawed to a 1-1 away draw against Sporting Kansas City on Thursday night.
Diego Rubio scored his first goal since last year's ACL tear on a gorgeous 20-yard curler, and US U-20 standout Erik Palmer-Brown made his first MLS start since 2015 for SKC. But a home team short-handed due to international call-ups and league discipline could not capitalize on an abundance of chances.
As a result, Philadelphia left Children's Mercy Park unbeaten in their last three as they try to work back into the Eastern Conference playoff places. West leaders Sporting remain unbeaten in their last 19 at home and six overall, but settled for a second consecutive home draw.
- BEEN SAVING UP: With defending MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Blake at the Gold Cup with Jamaica, McCarthy didn’t miss a beat in his first league start since last September. He commanded his box superbly on a night SKC had 14 corners, and he made nearly every kind of save. Latif Blessing alone was denied three times, including twice in three minutes late on a stunning kick save and then a push over the bar.
Curtin on John McCarthy: "John was excellent. John bailed us out. … He’s the reason we got a point tonight."— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) July 7, 2017
- SPOT-TING A TREND?: When referee Ricardo Salazar ruled that Benny Feilhaber had gotten enough of Sapong to warrant pointing to the spot, it marked the fifth time one of Sporting’s opponents had been awarded a penalty this season. Kansas City, meanwhile, has yet to earn one. Tim Melia has saved three of the five penalties SKC has conceded, and could’ve tied an MLS record with a fourth save had Alberg not sent him the wrong way.
- SOUNDING AN EPB: Linked with seemingly every club in Europe following a strong performance at the U-20 World Cup, Palmer-Brown actually made a real, live and in person MLS appearance Thursday. With SKC on the offensive most of the evening, he wasn’t a major focal point (and played no role in conceding the penalty). He stood his ground well and cut down the angle to force Ilsinho into a wayward early shot, the Union’s only goalbound effort of the first half.