Connect with us

Brotherly Game

Union luckily escape Kansas City with a point



Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union

“Certainly, it was their throw-in,” said Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin post-match Saturday night following his team’s 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City.

The missed call late in the game has been the main talking point since Saturday night’s game. And it should be. Philadelphia were lucky to escape with a point last night.

However, despite an epic last minute equalizer from club veteran Ale Bedoya and some late game heroics (and crucial missed calls), Philadelphia proved that they know how to use their bench.

Curtin deployed all five substitutions Saturday night. Some subs were pre-planned. Others were needed due to injury. But the technical staff found the way to pull the right strings and make the right changes to keep Philadelphia in a position to escape with a point, even down to the final minutes of the match.

I think the group showed a ton of character again today to play until the final whistle and get a big point on the road,” said Curtin. “We’re a very difficult team to play against.”

And the team Philadelphia rolled out against SKC did not include the club’s leading goal scorer  in Julian Caranza and one of the league’s best goalkeepers in Andre Blake. Curtin’s starting lineup also included an average age of just 24.4 (the fourth youngest lineup in an MLS match under Curtin. Homegrown midfielder Jeremy Rafanello made his first MLS start as well and handled things well.

He did a great job. He had a specific role to do. I thought he did it well,” said Curtin. “We knew we were going to suffer in the first half. We’re a little short-handed. We’re a little bit undermanned. And Jeremy was a guy that we needed to give us minutes and to work tirelessly defensively to take away their good number six but also to give us an outlet on the counter-attack… He did his job and I said that to him at halftime.”

Another player who was deployed with a specific role in mind was Olivier Mbaizo. Mbaizo made his first MLS start after sitting the first match last week in favor of Nate Harriel. Mbaizo was to be used to spell longtime starting left back Kai Wagner.

“I told [Mbaizo] basically that he was coming out at halftime,” said Curtin. “I hate having planned subs, but that was one of them there.”

An unplanned sub was forced due to an awkward tackle attempt by Jose Martinez. Martinez attempted to break up a play atop the box in the first half but stumbled as he stretched out his right leg which landed on top of the ball and rolled a bit awkwardly. The misplay unfortunately created SKC’s goal scoring moment and Martinez needed a sub at half.

But that sub sort of sparked some imagination by Curtin and his staff. Essentially, their plan went out the window.

“Once Jose had to come out at halftime we were a little bit more proactive and aggressive,” said Curtin. “We said, ‘You know what? The game has gone in a way where I still think we can get a lot of chances, let’s go for it.’ And we made three aggressive subs at halftime.”

And they definitely went for it. The second half opened up quite a bit with end to end action and close chances from both sides. Fresh legs were key for Philadelphia.

Wagner, Bedoya, and Daniel Gazdag entered the match to start the second half. Striker Mikael Uhre then joined the action 10 minutes later. And young speedster Markus Anderson entered the match late in the 83rd minute. All subs created chances in the attack Saturday night, signifying that each player was fully onboard with the second half game plan to simply go for it.

Ultimately, Bedoya was the one to find the equalizing moment. And he helped the unit gel and settle in while playing on the front foot away from home in the second half too.

“[Bedoya] gave us a real calming presence in the second half,” said Curtin. “He connected his passes and then in the biggest moment when we’re throwing guys forward on basically the last kick of the game – for him to have the composure there… to just glide it into the upper corner speaks to the composure and the talent, it’s not an easy finish.”

While Philadelphia may have felt this road result to be ‘fair,’ the glooming and unfortunate fact is that almost every MLS game so far this year has been heavily influenced by shoddy and questionable officiating while the league continues to hold out their main body of referees. Thankfully, Philadelphia were on the long end of the stick Saturday night by capitalizing on a blown call late.

Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

Be the First to Know When Philadelphia Soccer News Happens!

Sign-up now to get all of our stories sent directly to your inbox, as soon as they're published.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.