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Cruz'ing To A Non-Call: Philadelphia Union 2-2 Seattle Sounders

The Philadelphia Union played a wild 2-2 draw Saturday afternoon in PPL Park.


Facing the last place team in the Western Conference, the Philadelphia Union were only able to muster a 2-2 draw against the Seattle Sounders in a crazy and controversial game that saw the Union lose two defenders, Jeff Parke to injury and Sheanon Williams to red card and a penalty shout at the end of the game that could have potentially given them a last second victory.

The Philadelphia Union and Seattle Sounders played an interesting first half. The Union started out struggling offensively and in the midfield, and in the 10', the Union would see their struggles punished when the Sounders earned a corner kick.

The Sounders converted the corner kick into a goal when Amoki Okugo lost Eddie Johnson in the box and Zac MacMath decided the best way to stop a goal was by positioning himself inside the net and trying to make the save <i>after</i> the ball crossed the line. MacMath's awful positioning ensured Okugo's marking error would see Seattle up 1-0 early.

The Union would begin to turn things around. They slowly began generating chances, but were constantly thwarted by poor finishing and well placed shot blocks from the Seattle defense. In the 17th minute, Cruz got in behind the defense, but a bad touch and a worse cross showed the ball out of play. In the 32nd minute, McInerney headed a cross from Williams that went off the cross bar. In the 34th minute, Danny Cruz got the ball in the box and did something sort of resembling a pirouette before whiffing. In addition to the misses, the Union had other equally enticing chances that were blocked away. The combination of bad luck and poor finishing ensured the Union would not score in the first half.

In first half stoppage time, Jeff Parke went down with a hamstring injury and needed to be subbed out. Without the benefit of an additional central defender on the bench*, the Union were forced to slot Gabriel Farfan in at left back, move Raymon Gaddis to right back, and have Sheanon Williams take Jeff Parke's place in the central defense alongside Okugo.

*John Hackworth, meet Bakary Soumare. Bakary Soumare, meet John Hackworth. I do not believe you have met before.

The second half was an explosive and controversial affair, which saw the goals, red cards, and controversy. In the 50th minute, the Union kicked off the second half scoring when a Jack McInerney cross got headed by Conor Casey off the bar. The rebound went to Danny Cruz who made no mistake this time and leveled the game at 1 for a rare goal.

It would get even weirder for Cruz when just one minute later when a McInerney drive went off goalkeeper Michael Gspurning then off the crossbar before bouncing off. A few bounces later, the ball found itself at the foot of Cruz who would capitalize on his good fortune, scoring a very nice goal to give the Union a 2-1 lead in the most improbable of fashions.

A 62nd minute Seattle substitution that saw Alex Caskey leave the game for Real Espana loanee Mario Martinez would prove to be a huge difference maker as just a couple minutes after entering the game, a Martinez cross found Mauro Rosales who headed it in, proving once and for all that Gabe Farfan was not built to play central defense.

The real Danny Cruz returned in the 69th minute when Conor Casey found his way into the box thanks to a deft pass from McInerney. Casey would reach too low of an angle to reach the net himself, so he tried to set up a pass that McInerney or Cruz could easily tap in. McInerney ended up missing the ball and Cruz never tried to run to latch on to it. The end result was a solid opportunity gone begging and the scoreboard remaining level at 2. This would prove to be Cruz's last real action of the match as just a few minutes later he was subbed off for Antoine Hoppenot.

Controversy erupted in the 84th minute. Lamar Neagle and Sheanon Williams both got in a pushing and chest-bumping match, which, according to Williams, the refs thought was a head-butting contest and as a result punished both with a harsh red card, leaving the rest of the match to be played at 10 v. 10.

Or so we thought. After Hackworth made the quizzical substitution of bringing on Sebastien Le Toux for Jack McInerney (Hackworth should have been using Kleberson here instead), DeAndre Yedlin unnecessarily launched himself into Michael Farfan well after Farfan had passed the ball. This earned Yedlin a well deserved red card and the match would actually finish 10 v. 9.

There was a questionable call a couple minutes later when Eddie Johnson appeared to get an extra swipe in on an already tackled Antoine Hoppenot, but the officials must have thought Hoppenot was embellishing as Johnson was only shown yellow for his actions.

The last moment of the match would produce its biggest controversy. Leonardo Gonzalez reached his arm out and said arm clearly struck a ball in mid-air recently played by Conor Casey. This should have been a sure-fire penalty, but the ref simply ignored the Union's pleas. There was absolutely no doubt to be had that the Union should have had a chance to take a penalty to win the game at the death. The handball was obvious to everyone watching except the match official, but unfortunately, his opinion was the only one that mattered, the missed the call, and the match would end in a 2-2 draw.

The Union generated plenty of chances and while they can be understandably miffed at the official, if the Union had much better finishing in the first half, they would have won the match easily and seeing as how the Sounders are the last place team in the West, putting this loss solely on the officiating is to ignore everything that happened for the first 90 minutes.

Up next for the Union is a visit to Toyota Park for a road match against the Chicago Fire.