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Late penalty conversion gives Union 2-2 comeback draw against Charlotte FC



Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union recorded its sixth draw of the season with a 2-2 tie against Charlotte FC Wednesday night. A late penalty kick conversion from Daniel Gazdag righted the wrongs that came early in the second half, as Philadelphia pulled back from a 2-0 deficit to earn a point on the road.

Much of the match was a particularly uninspired affair that featured little offense outside of a 15-minute span that featured three goals. No Union attackers were able to contribute many chances on goal, while the defense wasn’t forced into many difficult situations either.

Jim Curtin put a heavily rotated lineup on the pitch against Charlotte, which featured Chris Donovan, Tai Baribo, Damion Lowe and Jesus Bueno. The Union had recently come off a 2-2 draw against Cincinnati at home and are set to face LAFC at home Saturday.

The first half of the match was a reasonably quiet affair. Both teams put chances on goal, but neither side was able to heavily challenge the opposing goalkeeper much. The highlight of the first 45 minutes came as Andre Blake misread a backward pass, and the ball rolled out for a Charlotte FC corner kick.

Charlotte struck first after nearly an hour of an even matchup. As the ball bounced around the Union’s penalty area in the 58th minute, Justin Meram found himself with the ball at his feet. Meram fired through a crowd and into the crowd as Blake dove for the shot but was unable to get a touch on the ball.

Curtin sent subs onto the pitch immediately after Charlotte’s goal to boost the offense, but they didn’t help the defense. The Union gave up its second goal of the game in the 62nd minute as Karol Swiderski beat Blake to a crossed bar at Blake’s near post to double Charlotte’s lead.

Philadelphia managed to pull a goal back, as Quinn Sullivan knocked the ball into the net in the 70th minute. Sullivan had been subbed into the match after Charlotte’s second goal, and combined with Julian Carranza, who had been subbed on after Charlotte’s first goal, for the score.

Blake made a massive save in the 78th minute to keep Enzo Copetti from putting the game away. Moments later, former Union player Derrick Jones had a chance to do what Copetti couldn’t but sent his shot over the net.

While the game seemed well and done, Olivier Mbaizo earned a penalty kick for Philadelphia in the dying minutes of stoppage time. What happened against Charlotte had happened against numerous other teams for the Union this season: Gazdag stepped up, took his shot, and ran away from the net with another goal to his name. Gazdag’s goal would stand as the final score of the game.

The Union is back in action at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 23, as it faces LAFC at Subaru Park. The game will be broadcast for free on Apple TV.

Joe is a junior at Penn State studying journalism and sports studies, among other things. He's covered the Union since 2017 and has written for Brotherly Game / Philadelphia Soccer Now since 2019. He seeks to answer life's greatest questions, such as, "How did I get here?" and "Where is that large automobile?" You can find Joe on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email (

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