Luck of the Draw

Mercy - Philadelphia
Official Philadelphia Union Reporter

By Mercy Payba // @mercpay

Saturday, April 29: 0-0 Draw

The horizon was bleak for Philadelphia Union after the comeback Montreal Impact mounted last weekend, but if the draw last week felt like a loss then this draw feels like we can hold our heads up higher. It wasn’t quite a stellar performance but the Union managed to buckle down defensively and most importantly, not concede a goal since their season opener in Vancouver.   

Andre Blake made three fantastic and crucial saves in the nil-nil draw on Saturday but the most spectacular save was made by the posts behind the goalkeeper. At the 21st minute mark, LA Galaxy’s Joao Pedro made an effort on goal from outside the box that bounced off both posts to roll out harmlessly into Blake’s arms. Bad luck had struck early for LA to the astonishment of both sides. Not to say that the Union was particularly lucky as our shots went mostly wide of the goalposts throughout the game.  

The match had some early excitement in the form of chances for both LA and Philadelphia. A bad clearance from the Union gave Romain Alessandrini a shot to put the Galaxy ahead if not for Blake’s block in the first few minutes. Roland Alberg had the best chance in the first half for Philadelphia from an excellent cross by Alejandro Bedoya, from the right, that was thwarted by goalkeeper Brian Rowe.

Bedoya celebrated his birthday by assisting every way he could, up to and including a nice little header to Richie Marquez in a decent set piece play. It was a markedly different performance in the midfield from last week, even though the lineup was the same, with the exception of Ilsinho, who was ill. Our captain was positioned up high in hopes of turning the tide to a more pressing forward mentality for Union without real success. Haris Medunjanin, on the other hand, attempted to find forgiveness with a goal for his unhelpful finger-pointing routine while getting outrun by the opposition’s attack.

The second half of the game was lackluster in attack with LA poaching most of the possession. Derrick Jones, the Union’s homegrown talent, was subbed in for Alberg in the 65th minute of the game to steady our backline and force a counter attack into the Galaxy’s side of the field.

All in all, Philadelphia must keep building on this foundation. Jack Elliott continues to impress on the back line, knocking heads with both Jelle Van Damme and Daniel Steres, just to keep going and make a huge clearance against Bradley Diallo in the dying minutes of the game. Alberg didn’t manage to find the net this time but it is only a matter of time and effort. Our offense still needs fine-tuning but in this test against LA, we managed to play it safe and smart. All the game needed was a goal.    

Maybe Lady Luck will stay by our side as we come back home.

Next Week: Union face the New York Red Bulls. My prediction: Optimism still standing, we manage to score a few goals but not enough to win.

Featured image courtesy: Philadelphia Union facebook

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