The Philadelphia Union were moments away from securing three crucial points on the road Saturday night until Shea Salinas drew a penalty for the home side during the waning moments of the match to draw with the Union 2-2.
The fireworks started way before the penalty though when the San Jose Earthquakes stunned the Union by scoring just minutes into the match. Vako received a cross near the top of the box and was able to easily turn and beat both Alejandro Bedoya and Roland Alberg. With Union defenders backing off and no one stepping to the ball, Vako rifled a low shot to the far corner that beat John McCarthy.
Despite being outplayed most of the first half, the Union did equalizer before heading into the locker room. The Union earned a corner, played it short, and Haris Medunjanin then crossed a ball into a dangerous area where it bounced around bodies seemingly for minutes. Jack Elliott, who was in the right place at the right time, found the ball come to his feet after all the chaos. He was able capitalize on the chance and bury it in the back of the net for his first career MLS goal.
The away team struck again to take the lead early on in the second half. In the 55th minute, Chris Pontius sent a long throw in into the penalty area. After coming off a few Union players, Alberg perfectly struck a low skipping ball back onto net first time that Andrew Tarbell had no chance to save.
The Union held onto that lead for the rest of the game until the aforementioned penalty they gave up shattered their aspiration of walking away with a win. In the final minute of a four-minute stoppage time, Josh Yaro made a huge mental mistake. As Salinas was dribbling in the box, Yaro went in for a tackle. Completely missing the ball and clearly striking Salinas on the leg, the referee had no choice but to blow his whistle and make the easy call. Chris Wondolowski stepped up and calmly slotted it home.
At this point in the season, the Union can’t afford to let leads slip away and only come out of games like this one with just one point. Their playoff hopes continue to look bleaker and bleaker as they sit in 9th place in the Eastern Conference standings. And with three of their next four on the road, fans may seem even less optimistic since the team hasn’t performed well away during this season’s campaign.
Next up for the Union is a clash with the team at the top of the East, Toronto FC. The game is scheduled for Wednesday at 8:00 PM.
(photos: Philadelphia Union Facebook)