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Philadelphia Union held to draw by FC Cincinnati in disappointing return from break

Alejandro Bedoya put the Union up with a beautiful strike but the Union conceded an equalizer and dropped points

Shivant Krishnan

CHESTER, Pa. — Three weeks off did little to cure the Philadelphia Union of their drawitis as they were held to a draw for the seventh time in their last eight games against FC Cincinnati on Saturday night.

Alejandro Bedoya scored a pretty left-footed curler in the 17th minute to the put the boys in blue up early but as has happened so often this season a 39th minute equalizer from Brandon Vazquez gave way to a second half of empty chances in a 1-1 draw.

Saturday night’s return to league play was also a homecoming for Ray Gaddis and head coach Pat Noonan, a former assistant. Former Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin wore the armband for Cincinnati. After getting a warm greeting from fans pregame, Gaddis was active in the attack and had a chance in the first half fall to him that he hit well over the bar.

Playing on a brand new pitch at Subaru Park, the Union struggled to find the ball and string passes together but as the second half wore on Daniel Gazdag found his way to a couple of big opportunities he hit right at FC Cincinnati keeper Roman Celentano. Bedoya was involved in several key chances to bag a winner but it never came against a much improved Cincinnati team that Noonan — along with general manager Chris Albright — has in short order turned into a playoff contender.

On the Union side, Andre Blake was called on to make a few key stops and was only beaten on a tough second ball from a set piece Brandon Vazquez was able to go low to head past the Jamaican international. Tyler Blackett assisted on the play with a header right into the path of Vazquez, who leads Cincinnati with eight goals.

Blackett was involved on the wrong side of the Union’s goal when he attempted to usher a ball out of bounds but instead coughed it up to Julian Carranza, who played the ball to Bedoya for his goal in the 17th minute. The assist was the on-loan striker’s fourth to go with four goals in his 12th game of the season.

Playing with a lighter bench with Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn, Quinn Sullivan and Brandan Craig all away for the Concacaf U20 championships, head coach Jim Curtin subbed Cory Burke for Mikael Urhe at the 63rd minute and the Jamaican international was involved on a couple of the bigger chances the rest of the way. Curtin also gave Chris Donovan his MLS debut and deployed Matt Real as a left-sided midfielder for the final five minutes plus stoppage time.

The Union leads the league with eight draws and while it’s frustrating to see the team drop points again, they still have just one loss and are even on points with NYCFC and New York Red Bulls at 26.

The Union will host NYCFC for a 6 p.m. game next Sunday at Subaru Park.