The Philadelphia Union’s first true road game in five months ended in a scoreless draw in front of 65,000 empty seats in Foxborough, Mass. on Thursday night.
Following up a strong performance in the MLS is Back Tournament that ended in a semifinal defeat to eventual champions Portland Timbers, the Union struggled to find chances early and were forced to defend waves of attacks from the Revolution.
But as he was in Florida, goalkeeper Andre Blake stepped up when called upon early to make a diving save and it was the center back tandem of Mark McKenzie and Jack Elliott that took care of the rest, ultimately rescuing a point for the visitors on a night where neither team could take advantage of their chances in the final third.
McKenzie was seemingly everywhere putting out fires and Elliott had a huge tackle late in regulation to secure the road point.
“Good teams get a point on a bad bad night and we did that tonight.” head coach Jim Curtin said in a post-game presser with media, noting McKenzie’s performance more than once. “I have to stress Mark McKenzie was was excellent tonight and bailed us out a lot.”
New England had the bulk of the chances early forcing Blake into a save and later hitting woodwork, but the counter attack was almost the path to glory again for the Union as Jamiro Monteiro danced his way through the midfield in the 35th minute and set up Brenden Aaronson to his left, who squared it to Kacper Przybylko but Revs keeper Matt Turner was up to the task to deny what would have been another highlight reel goal.
Kacper returned the favor to Aaronson to set him up for a chance in the box after a crafty run in the 54th minute but Turner was there again making himself big to deny the attempt.
The Revs continued to make noise but the defensive wall in front of Andre Blake — even after both McKenzie and Elliott were on yellow cards — was impenetrable. Blake’s only save of the night was the one he made in the 9th minute on Gustavo Bou.
“It’s a sign of progress that Andre is not making eight, nine saves like sometimes he was in Orlando,” Curtin said.
The Union finished the night with 36 clearances — nearly half of those from McKenzie and Elliott combined — but had five shots on goal to New England’s one.
“It’s good to be back out there,” McKenzie said. “It’s our third resumption of the season so at the end of the day it’s getting on the road, rolling up our sleeves and understanding what the game is calling for. We got the point, it wasn’t the prettiest but ultimately it’s a solid first game back.”
The Union return home to play in an empty Subaru Park against the New York Red Bulls on Tuesday. Their last game in Chester was 10 months ago when they beat the Red Bulls for the team’s first ever playoff victory.