We are now 4 games into the season, and the Philadelphia Union seem to have thrown 4 points down the drain. This time it was a late(ish) equaliser scored by Marco Di Vaio. What were the points during the game that we feel turned the tide towards the 1-1 outcome? Read on and find out.
1. Hassoun Camara only got a yellow card for pulling down Jack Mcinerney.
Early in the game, and Mcinerney is through on goal. Next time he hits the ball it's going to be a shot on goal - then he got pulled back outside the box. Free kick and red card right? Well not if you are referee Edvin Jurisevic. The whole rule of "Denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity" is always a difficult rule to interpret when there is a breakaway like there was in this occasion. The referee was behind the play, and may have thought one of the 2 defenders would have managed to get a tackle on Jack. You would also think that the Assistant Referee would have helped. My guess is that in the 26th minute, the referee thought if he was going to make the wrong decision it would have been better to make it without reducing Montreal to 10 men. If he does send off Camara, then Montreal need to make drastic changes to their team having a defender sent off. That is a major game-changing moment that went against the Union.
2. Andrew Wenger given a straight red card for a studs up tackle on Vincent Noguiera.
We'll start off by talking about this logically. This was a good moment for the Union. Wenger's tackle was poor - a strikers tackle if you wish to call it that. Studs up, close to knee high, it was what you call a leg-breaker. Luckily for Nogueira, the tackle got 99% ball, but that doesn't make it anything less than a red card. The Union are 1 goal up, 1 man up, and this was a game-changing moment that should have meant 3 points....
That is if you are anyone but the Union. Yet again, the team struggled when they have a man advantage. Would the Union have won if Wenger just got a yellow card? Who knows. However, instead of being happy that the red card came out - there were a few Union fans who thought "oh no, not again".
3. The Half-time break
We've had 2 Union home games in 2014. Two 1-0 leads at half time. 2 games where the second half has been almost flat compared to an excellent first half. It is joked in my section (120) that we never get to see any Union action or goals after the last year and a half of struggling Union performances, especially going towards the bridge end. However, that isn't the case this year. Half time is the point where managers really get to change the way the game is going. They can get their players up for the 2nd half. In the New England game, I said that the 2nd half struggles may have been trying to protect Wheeler. This time that isn't the case. It seems that the opposition manager has been able to "out-think" Hackworth at the half-time team talks and allowed the opposition to come back into it.
4. Giving Marco Di Vaio too much room.
Before I start - let me say I am one of Amobi Okugo's biggest fans. He had been having an outstanding game, probably man of the match... until the Montreal goal. I could try and blame Carroll for a bad pass, Noguiera for a bad touch or even MacMath for not saving the shot. I could even say props to Montreal, the pass by Mapp was perfect and the finish exquisite. However, if blame is to be laid - I would lay the blame on Okugo's reluctance to get out there and close down Di Vaio.
Reading some of the quotes by Union staff and players, I heard that Montreal had 1 shot and scored 1 goal. The Union had many chances, and should have won having score 2-3 goals, they just need to take the risk and finish. However, looking back at the highlights, Marco Di Vaio himself could have scored 2-3 goals, and had pretty decent chances. It was Di Vaio's first game of the season - so maybe he was a little off. Maybe that's why Amobi Okugo let him get closer, and closer, and closer to Zac MacMath in the Union goal. Maybe that's why he even showed Di Vaio the whole goal to aim for. A slight deflection later, and the ball is curling into the top corner. The Union were now level with 10-man Montreal, and then our last sub was like-for-like. Obviously, Amobi should have raced out and faced Di Vaio quicker, forcing him wide, allowing the rest of the Union defense to get back to help snuff out the danger. That didn't happen, and the Union threw away another 2 points just before what may be a very tricky part of the season.
There were some other moments that came close to making this list. Perkin's excellent save from Maurice Edu's left footed blast kept Montreal in the game. There was also the chance in the first half where Vincent Nogueira was through on the right hand side and decided to shoot instead of picking out an (offside) Jack Mcinerney or one of the other runners into the box. At 2-0, there is no way back for Montreal. However, the 4 moments I went into detail on were my biggest game-changing moments of the game.