Mark McKenzie wore the captain’s armband in the second half and made a critical clearance and a couple other standout plays to help lead the MLS Homegrown team to a 1-1 draw against Tigres UANL’s U20 team on Tuesday night in Marietta, Ga.
The 19-year-old Union rookie was one of four Philadelphia Union players to feature in the game — Auston Trusty and Anthony Fontana played the first half while Matt Real joined McKenzie in the second — which was played in a hard rain at Atlanta United’s training facility.
Fontana, starting as the attacking midfielder in a 4-3-3 formation, had a pair of shots, including one that was headed for the back of the net when Marcos Barbosa made an acrobatic save to keep out. His other shot earlier in the game sailed high over the bar.
Trusty paired with NYCFC defender James Sands in the first half and while they held Tigres scoreless, the pair were opened up in the 17th minute when Rafael Durán got behind the space created when Trusty stepped up high and beat Sands to the goal. Once in on goal, Durán pulled his shot wide.
The homegrowns took the lead through Toronto FC’s Liam Fraser who got to a second ball headed by a teammate on a free kick from Andrew Carleton in first half stoppage time. Fraser did well to finish it with a quick strike to put MLS up 1-0 at the break.
The homegrowns thought they had doubled their lead in the 70th minute when Jesus Ferreira collected a pass from Efrain Alvarez and made a strong run into the box to finish with a curler, but it was called back when VAR confirmed that moments before the goal Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Sean Melvin had put the ball down and picked it up back up again. The indirect kick that resulted was scored by Adrián Garza to tie the game at 1-1. Instead of 2-0 MLS, the video review turned the game into a 1-1 draw, which would hold through to the final whistle.
Tigres went down to 10 men in the 78th minute when Jorge Cruz was shown a second yellow for showing his studs on a tackle. But the team of MLS homegrowns was unable to find a game-winner in the closing minutes.
It’s the fourth draw in five years of staging the game for Major League Soccer. The MLS team lost to the Mexico U20s 2-0 in 2016.