Recap: Late Heroics Make It Three In A Row For Surging Union

CHESTER, PA - JULY 14: Defender Carlos Valdes #2 of the Philadelphia Union and his teammates celebrate his game winning goal during a game against the Montreal Impact at PPL Park on July 14, 2012 in Chester, Pennsylvania. The Union won 2-1. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

Devastation was in the air at PPL Park.

A silence came over the crowd as they witnessed, in horror, the ball enter the back of the Philadelphia Union's net, transitioning their thoughts from three points to only one in the matter of seconds.

Keon Daniel's mistake, one in a long line of problems the Trinidad and Tobago international has had during his defense of corner kicks this year, gave the Impact a lifeline to leave Philadelphia with a point. Such a result would enable the Montreal Impact to maintain their lead over the Union in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference standings without a hitch.

The Union would have none of it.

Channeling the never say die style of the 2010 edition of itself, Philadelphia struck with only minutes to spare to take back the full three points. It came off of, also much like some of the later wins in 2010, off of a broken play.

Captain Carlos Valdes challenged two Impact players for one of Sheanon Williams' classic long throw-ins. All three players could not properly meet the ball in the air and it came down toward their feet within reach for everyone in the small grouping.

The Colombian center back managed to find a little bit of space and also the ball. Meeting the ball well, Valdes slipped his shot just over an onrushing Donovan Ricketts and into the back of the net near the far post.

Players on the field ran around in celebration. Daniel Noonan celebrated next to John Hackworth on the sideline.

One shot, one goal, three points with time ticking away. Simple as that to give the Union new hopes for the playoffs.

In yet another physical game played by the Union - once again due to the head referee's discretion on the flow of the game - there was controversy on multiple occasions, including the Daniel own goal.

While the score keeping pinned the blame upon Daniel, some fans were unsure of his fault, instead placing the own goal label upon starting goalkeeper Zac MacMath. The replays of the incident were rather inconclusive.

No matter who caused the own goal, MacMath had a stellar game beyond that possible single moment of lapse in judgment. The former University of Maryland standout's exclamation point save of the night came during a breakaway by Marco Di Vaio.

Di Vaio, who prior to joining the Impact was playing with Bologna in Italy's Serie A, received a pass that split both Sheanon Williams and Amobi Okugo, leaving him with a clear path to the net. MacMath stepped up amiably and managed to flail his right arm at Di Vaio's shot, deflecting it barely past the far post.

The save and awkward deflection left Di Vaio with a frustrated smile and a gesture of his arms, seemingly asking what else he could do to get the ball past MacMath. The Union's second year goalkeeper also had impressive saves on other Impact players throughout the game, including a reflexive parry of a well placed shot by Felipe.

A different controversy occurred for the Union when Jack McInerney went to the ground inside of the Impact box in the 61st minute. McInerney poked a ball past former Union central defender Shavar Thomas and appeared to be felled by the Jamaican international.

Instead of a penalty kick or a no call, a yellow card for simulation was handed out to McInerney. It was the second time this season that a member of the Union was cautioned inside of the opposing box for simulation.

The reactions of the Philadelphia players in or around the box at the time of the incident to the referee's decision said everything about what the Union's perception was about the result.

A confused and somewhat enraged Lionard Pajoy kept pointing to the jumbotron opposite the River End to get the referee to see the replays shown of the incident, which appeared to confirm the Union's thoughts that McInerney had been fouled. The referee refused to turn around and ignored Pajoy's pleas in entirety.

Montreal had controlled much of the run of play during the first half and still were threatening in the second half, despite Pajoy's scrappy goal to open the scoring in the 82nd minute of the game. Antoine Hoppenot, who came in as a super sub for the eighth time this season, set up his third goal of the year - despite having zero assists to his name.

Philadelphia hosts English Premier League club Aston Villa in an international friendly on Wednesday, July 18, then head up I-95 to face the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on July 21.

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