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Saved By The Bendik: Philadelphia Union 1-1 Toronto

The Philadelphia Union looked poised to successfully come back from a deficit to defeat Toronto F.C., but they were stymied by some incredible saves by Joe Bendik.


The Philadelphia Union thought they were robbed of an equalizer. Then they got an equalizer. Then they were one missed shot away from victory. All this occurred in the span of a few minutes, and it all added up to the Philadelphia Union drawing Toronto FC 1-1 at PPL Park on Saturday afternoon.

The first half was a dull and listless and boring and unentertaining and every other unsavory adjective that you can think of affair. The Philadelphia Union played poor. Toronto were just as bad and maybe even just a tad worse.

The Reds had some injury problems in the 7th minute when Darel Russell went down with a hamstring injury and former Union player Ryan Richter came on, in the process making his MLS debut.

The best scoring opportunity for Toronto came in the 15th minute, when Robert Earnshaw got alone in front of goal. IT appeared he was going to score, and in fact he did, but the flag was up, and the goal was rightfully called back on the offside call. For the Union, their best chance came 12 minutes later. Conor Casey fired a shot in the box that was stopped by Joe Bendik. The rebound, though, went out to Danny Cruz and he had a nice net to shoot at, but he held onto the ball too long eventually shooting it right at the prepared Bendik. Bendik's save resulted in a corner from which nothing else would come.

All in all, the first half of this match was really awful for both sides, and there really is not much more to recap. There were some missed opportunities on both ends, but nothing that resulted in anything overly threatening.

The second half began in similar fashion as the first half. No changes were made on either side, and while the Union had the majority of the chances and Bendik had to make a few saves, nothing really was all that threatening from either side.

Toronto FC would get their big breakthrough though in the 71st minute, when Ashtone Morgan innocently sent a ball to Earnshaw who would take advantage and get behind the Union defense to slot in what would be Toronto's lone goal of the afternoon. The goal came from nowhere and just like that, TFC had the lead.

The Union would make two subs, taking Sebastien Le Toux off for Antoine Hoppenot and Raymon Gaddis off for Kleberson, and these subs would ignite the Union's offense. Kleberson, in particular, looked outstanding in his Union debut. Kleberson had a great chance in the 87th minute with a shot on that took a deflection, but Bendik would make a remarkable save to keep the TFC lead for the time being.

The game would soon though when Morgan picked up his second yellow card, earning him a red and an ejection. On the ensuing free kick, the Union appeared to get a equalizer but it was called back for reasons known only to the official. A Keon Daniel free kick was made a disaster of by Bendik and with the ball loose in front of the net, Bendik dove for it on the ground, making contact with the ball but never possessing the ball, allowing Jack McInerney to put it home for what appeared to be the equalizer. However, the referee apparently ruled there was some sort of foul on McInerney there, causing the goal to be disallowed.

Entering stoppage time, the Union would continue pressing and minutes after being wronged by the officials, would ultimately get their equalizer. A long throw from Sheanon Williams found its way to Conor Casey to pass the ball to McInerney in the box who had an open net to shoot at and he did not miss, and this one counted.

In the game's final minute, Hoppenot had a golden opportunity for a winner. Hoppenot made a beautiful run and got himself alone in front of goal with the ball, only to shoot it right into the stomach of Bendik, preserving the 1-1 draw. The Union will certainly feel disappointed not to come away with three points in this one, and while they could point to McInerney's disallowed goal, they had other opportunities where they either whiffed or were stopped solid by Bendik. A little better with those chances, and the Union could have easily won this match.

Up next for the Union, is a match next Sunday at D.C. United on ESPN2.