The Philadelphia Union managed to draw again against Real Salt Lake at PPL Park this weekend, as has been the recurring theme thus far in the young Philadelphia season. With John Hackworth's team doing their best Bill Murray impression from Groundhog's Day, there was seemingly mixed feelings around the Unionverse about the result of this match. A draw at home is not the best result, certainly a disappointing one if anything. But against a quality opponent does that change?
I dove into the opinion pool and asked the staff here at Brotherly Game when they thought a draw was an acceptable result.
Lets see what they thought.
Andrew Stoltzfus - Draws suck, but not all draws are equal. This was a point earned. So I'm more willing to accept it than our other draws.
Eugene Rupinski - A draw is acceptable when you are playing a team that is equal caliber or better than you. Playing at home can be a factor certainly, however I was ok with the Union drawing RSL at home. RSL is (in my opinion) the best team in MLS top to bottom and I had predicted losing to them. I was very happy my prediction of zero points was incorrect.
JC Escobar - To me ties are acceptable only when you play a better team on the road, every one talks about how hard it is to travel in MLS. Therefore a point on the road, against a better opponent, is a great outcome.
DOOP Cast - A draw is acceptable only when you are playing for one. The Union were not doing so against RSL. I think we ALL said that the point against Portland would have been taken if offered before kickoff however the draw in that game was deemed unacceptable due to the way we lost the two points. So it seems that while in theory we accept JC's view point as standard practice the reality is that a draw is not always okay, no matter the opponent or venue.
Justin F. - There is not one set of criteria that dictates when a draw is acceptable. You can't just take context and circumstance out of the equation and come up with one set line of rules. That said I do consider this an acceptable draw despite the general sloppiness of the first half. Real Salt Lake is arguably one of the league's best defensive teams and the Union's first goal was a thing of beauty and absolutely ripped apart RSL's defense. I am more concerned about process over results and there was a significant amount of encouraging process in that second half. That's not to say there was not any bad (*cough cough* Austin Berry) but I can't not be encouraged by playing RSL to a draw, especially with how the Union were denied a stonewall penalty on top of that, even though the game was at home.
Heather Reppert - I personally believe a tie is all about how the teams are playing against each other at that particular moment. The ties the Union had the last couple of games (not against RSL) were completely unacceptable because they had control of those games. This past Saturday was a hard fought game against an amazingly good team. Going a goal down so early and the two non-calls could have easily discouraged the team but it didn't. The team kept fighting. I was happy with the result.
Nicholas Youngstein - Draws are only acceptable against championship-caliber teams. They overcame Berry's gaffes so this was a good draw.
Ed Welsh - I don't like to admit that draws are acceptable. I expect a winning performance every time my team plays. They are unacceptable when coachable mistakes are made (lazy defending on PKs).
Frank Cobbina - I'm okay with draws against equal or better opponents, home or away. However, scenarios such as playoff positioning and injuries/suspensions may sway my attitude between "salvaging" a draw and "giving away" two points.
Jared Young - Draws on the road are always acceptable. At home they are going to happen. Hopefully they happen against only the better teams in the league. I thought the RSL draw was acceptable because they equalized against a top side late. Hopefully, the Union can build off that moment. That match could have really been another disaster.
Barry Evans - A draw is acceptable when you overcome a mix of a) A better team b) difficult trip and c) in game situations where the odds are against you (player sent off is best example of that). Basically, any time that you look at all the factors without seeing the result, and think, "Yes, I'll take a draw". I'd say this was really the first game that a draw was an acceptable result.
John P O'Donnell - A draw is only rewarding when you come back to get it on the road. You should win at home and never give up the game in the last ten minutes.
The Union have been down this road before this season and where this particular point was a bit sweeter, having come in a 90th minute goal against a truly remarkable MLS franchise, there's something bittersweet about a draw, regardless of circumstance. The staff here has mentioned that draws depend on in-game scenarios where the ability to steal a point brings some satisfaction. I can see this as a potential outcome; I just don't believe that this weekend resembled such a draw.
A home game against Real Salt Lake gave the Union a chance to prove themselves as a potential top-flight team. After going down 1-0 and then 2-1, Philadelphia didn't crumble like the team they used to be. Instead, they showed fight. They showed grit. Most especially they showed quality in response to adversity.
Call me a pessimist, sure, naturally my outwardly mood about sports is negative. I cannot look at this match as an example of a worthy draw. The way the Union took this point late was positive, but at home the Union should not be forced to steal a point. Given the way the Union gave Real Salt Lake two goals shows a team that still has yet to produce a complete performance. I agree that there were positives in this match, but not enough to erase the bad taste in my mouth as the Union snatched a pointed from the jaws of defeat.
Draws are, and should be, based on the type of situation in which they occur. The reason this draw isn't as disappointing is the way in which it was acquired as opposed to the two previous draws. I wouldn't say, however, that this was an acceptable draw due to the sloppiness the Union continues to display in various increments. As the season moves on, we can hope that the Union increase their displays of quality and not their displays of sloppiness.
So when is a draw acceptable? Let your voice be heard in the comments section below!