hiladelphia Union (10-7-8) earned a draw against Eastern Conference rival New York Red Bulls Saturday night, as a shutout from Zac MacMath helped the Union record their first-ever point at Red Bull Arena.
“[This game] does wonders for our team,” said goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who improved his season shutout mark to nine. “We know that we have about nine games left and if we can win all of our home games and get some points on the road, we’ll be in the playoffs and that for us is our main goal right now.”
The final stat sheet showed MacMath only made three saves, but it seems his tenacity and awareness to come off his line fueled the Union snapping its road drought against New York.
While the sheet will also depict New York holding possession in this game, the stats can’t depict a Union team that looked sharp on the counter, specifically in the second half when they brought it to New York goalkeeper Luis Robles. Perhaps no bigger moment arrived in this match then in the 73rd minute, when a quick touch and a perfect strike from just at the tip of New York’s 18-yard-box clanged of the crossbar.
Defensively, the Union were up to the task, led by center backs Amobi Okugo and Jeff Parke, who smartly kept Red Bulls main men Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill under wraps. Additionally, the Union looked sharp on clearing balls away from danger. On the flanks, Sheanon Williams and Fabinho caused fits and were a nuisance to a New York plan of attack that appeared to start out wide and pinch its way back in towards Henry and fellow forward Fabian Espindola.
“It kind of had a playoff feel, everyone was into it and everyone stepped up,” said Okugo, postgame. “Our midfield, especially in [Brian Carroll] and Keon [Daniel]; we had chances in this game where we could have won, but we spent so much of it on the defensive a position everyone played well tonight that we can be quite pleased with coming in here and getting a point.”
Next Saturday, the Union returns to action as they head north to take on the New England Revolution (7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet) one of the clear sleeper teams in the Eastern Conference before a return to PPL Park on Aug. 31 for a revenge match against Montreal (7:30 p.m.).
“We’re a good team and I think we’ve played a bit of the underdog role for a lot of this season,” said MacMath. “But that’s okay, we’ll quietly take the points and hopefully at the end of the day achieve the goal we set out to do in the beginning of the season, which is to make the playoffs and be one of those teams competing for an MLS Cup.”