An overturned own goal and a class save from Andre Blake led to a scoreless draw for the Philadelphia Union at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus on Saturday night.
The own goal off the foot of Jonathan Mensah was nullified by video assistant referee or VAR after it was ruled that Cory Burke had fouled Lalas Abubakar prior to breaking free in the box and taking the shot that wound up in the back of the net.
“Is it a foul or is it not? It could go either way,” head coach Jim Curtin said after the match.
Separated by only a point in the standings, the Eastern Conference rivals played even throughout much of the night with neither side getting a shot on target until second half stoppage time when Harrison Afful forced Andre Blake into an acrobatic save.
That Blake only had to make a save in the closing minutes of the match is a credit to the back line, which bounced back from a nightmare performance in the U.S. Open Cup final in Houston on Wednesday to shut down the Crew’s dynamic attack spearheaded by Federico Higuain, Justin Meram and Gyasi Zardes.
Homegrown Mark McKenzie returned to the lineup to replace the suspended Jack Elliott and had one of his best games yet as a pro pairing with fellow homegrown Auston Trusty.
“Mark McKenzie I thought was incredible,” Curtin said.
Fabinho also did well replacing Ray Gaddis at left back with some key tackles. Despite playing five games in 15 days, the 20-year-old Trusty still has not missed a minute in league play this season and now leads the league among field players with 2,790 minutes played.
Though the draw was not enough to pass the Crew into fourth place, the Union did inch closer to securing a playoff spot with D.C. United’s lopsided win over the Montreal Impact. The Union are seven points up on sixth place Montreal and nine points up on seventh place D.C. United, which does have two games in hand.
“Three points would have been great but we were on the road,” Andre Blake said after the match. “We just go back and take care of our business at home.”
Blake set a career high with his 10th clean sheet this season and moved to within one of the club record for career shutouts (held by Zack MacMath with 28).