MLS- Real Salt Lake

Union, RSL play to scoreless draw at PPL



With the MLS playoff race heating up, both the Philadelphia Union and Real Salt Lake could have used a win on Friday night. But in a game where chances were few and far between, each team was forced to settle for a single point.

Philadelphia and Real Salt Lake struggled mightily to create chances for the entirety of the match, and the clubs ended up tying, 0-0, in front of 18,441 fans at PPL Park in what could only be described as a bore draw.

Danny Cruz missed a sitter in his first home game as a Union player in the 42nd minute when he skied a shot over the crossbar despite having time on the ball. Salt Lake blew a clear opportunity as well late in the game when Jonny Steele hesitated in front of an open goal and gave Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath time to recover the ball.

Amobi Okugo saw an attempt saved on the line in the 90th minute, but the play was called for offsides anyway. In the end, neither team managed to find a winner as the game ended at 0-0.

"It is frustrating for us to get a shutout but not score at home," said Union coach John Hackworth. "It is disappointing. But I'm encouraged by the type of soccer we played. If you look at the standings, we're the team that's supposed to be getting our butt whooped by one of the top teams in the league, but that doesn't happen and it hasn't happened for weeks."

Philadelphia came out with something of a new look on offense, with Freddy Adu relegated to the bench and Gabriel Gomez replacing him on the left wing. It didn't work too well, as Gomez looked lethargic in such an offensive position. The Union couldn't create a single shot on goal in the first half, and Cruz's miss was their best chance of the whole game.

Salt Lake, meanwhile, used a fairly straightforward lineup, but fatigue seemed to play a factor for a team that was playing its third game in seven days.

In the last ten minutes, Adu was brought on by Hackworth as Philadelphia looked to create a late winner. He failed to generate much in his limited role, though.

"Today was one of those days where I personally didn't have a lot of minutes," said Adu. "But I was just trying to create chances, put them on their toes a little bit. I think my team played well today, they didn't give Salt Lake too many chances."

Steele, Paulo Junior, and Yordany Alvarez weren't much better for RSL when it came to injecting creativity, but by the end of the match Salt Lake seemed to be playing for the draw.

While both teams were in need of three points, it was Philadelphia that came away more disappointed. They blew a chance to get back into the playoff race and still sit 15 points shy of the fifth spot in the East. Salt Lake, on the other hand, snapped a three-game league losing streak and earned a point on the road after winning in CONCACAF Champions League play earlier in the week.

"Each time we let points go in the race for the playoffs, the pressure obviously grows and our chances get worse," said Union captain Carlos Valdes. "But we just have to turn the page and prepare for the next game."

Here are the match highlights:

What did you think of the match? Can Philadelphia still sneak into the playoffs, or did the result take them out of the running? Was a draw a good enough result for Salt Lake against a team much lower in the standings?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Tyler

    Not surprising that Adu was very dangerous once coming on. To bench him in the game that essentially decided the team’s playoff fate is just shocking and tells me that Hackworth was also part of the problem earlier.

    Adu was Philly’s best player on Saturday at DC, and when coming on today in a must win was again their best player. Too bad he was only given 10 minutes.


  • Mig22

    I thought that Philly looked good. I realize that they needed a win but honestly, they weren’t making the playoffs anyways. At 1.09 pts/game and 1.02 goals scored/game, why would anyone worry about their playoff fate.

    That said, they outshot, out-possessed, out-cornered, and outpassed a superior team. Probably as good as could be expected.


  • atd

    Don’t leave the centerbacks out. They’ve been the lone bright spot in the past month.


  • PD

    It’s only half a season old, and I’m already totally over this is Adu or Farfan “top dog” BS. Both players have a ton of upside, as does Torres. Ideally all three guys should be our midfield. U has to figure out how to get these three on the field at the same time to be creative and dangerous offensively, that’s the only way to make up for the lack of size on this team, speed and possession. The coaching staff needs to figure this out as much as the players do.


  • Jim

    Gotta love that in a “must win” game at home, Hackworth chose to go with what was essentially defensive formation (3 Defensive minded midfiedlers in Gomez, Lahoud, and Carrol). I have so many complaints with this team and organization. Hackworth has his favorites, that’s for sure. What has Jack Mac done to automatically get the starts? Sure he has score a couple of goals, but they were tap ins. Let’s see him actually create a goal. I normally don’t like Adu, but it is insane that he didnt start tonight. He has been off most of this season, but in the games that he is on, he is one of the best on the field. I hope they don’t make Hackworth the permanent manager. He seems like a nice guy (compared to Nowak), but he is using the same formation that Nowak used (with similar results), has played favorites, and hasn’t use Bakary Soumare.


  • Mick L

    Finally an MLS Friday Night game, and it one one of the worst national TV games of the season.

    Philly’s offense has been terrible all year. I feel bad for Freddy Adu. He is the type of player that could help a contender. He would fit in perfectly on a team like Los Angeles. Going into CCL and the Playoffs, LA could use some fresh legs. As a left-sided super sub/spot starter, he would fill a role that the team needs. I wonder if LA could try to swing a deal for him.

    As for RSL, I’m very surprised they have not injected some freshness into their lineup. They have the money and prestige to bring in some quality talent. Their legs have gotten tired and their attack has gone stale. They could also use an injection of quickness. If they were to trade for Adu, he would be on a much superior team vs. when he left them.


  • Raul

    They are still in 2nd Place in the West and they are up in CCL.

    Will they last with basically the same roster they have had for years though….


  • Zubrowka

    Respectfully, the lesson to be learned here is that a team of mostly development projects is not capable of winning in MLS. I’ll cheer them on every game, because I want to see them to succeed. I just don’t see it happening without more veteran skill and experience on that field.


  • Robert Daniels

    Agreed, playing against a team everyone thought they’d be chasing the whole game I thought they held the ball relatively well.


  • Citronomics

    Probably a fair assessment though Philly’s possession didn’t translate to much quality with the exception of M Farfan’s touch to set up Cruz (who flubbed it) and a few nicely weighted, clever balls from Adu (mind boggling to me that Adu did not get on the field at the 2h whistle).

    IMO, don’t see a tactical reason for Philly to play 3 D-mids, as the incisive ball and creative play was lacking when it mattered.


  • Citronomics

    O/T. RVP just buries a half volley to open his Man U account to even the score at 1-1. Conflicted in this one since not a Man U fan and disgusted with the Deuce – Fulham drama.


  • the guy on the Game show

    They’ve been blowin it in league play… Sure makin it easy for SSFC to charge them at the end ..


  • dbearman

    Great way to show case MLS on a Friday night. (sarcasm) Ugly midfield battles and an inability on both sides to create anything in the final-third.


  • chodilicus

    Trust me, Adu would never be welcomed back at RSL. I do agree that they need some injection of pace and goal scorers. Injuries and the quantity of games are really starting to catch up. However, Adu is far from the guy they need. He is the very definition of Prima Donna which is most likely why he is riding the pine on another mediocre team despite his talent.

    As for the match, it was boring, but the article must have been written by a Union fan because RSL did not play a typical lineup at all. This was the first time I can remember in the Kreis era that RSL featured a 4-5-1 due in large part to injuries and fatigue. Despite being in a losing streak, RSL was just trying to survive after really pressing in the first 15 minutes to try and get an early one.


  • Esteban de la Sexface

    RSL didn’t seem all that interested in winning the game. They wasted time (always kicking the ball away and not chasing it) and looked perfectly content with the draw. I’m a Philly fan but this game looked ripe an RSL win away from home.


  • Esteban de la Sexface

    Probably the most interesting thing about the Hackworth promotion is the fact that both Eskandarian (youth coach) and Gutierrez (top scout) left/were fired and how that’s affected the team. Hackworth didn’t feel they were completely on board, and it looks like Hackworth’s approach demonstrates that he wasn’t wild with Gutierrez players and Eskandarian’s coaching.

    Of the Gutierrez signings (his expertise is Central/South America), the only ones playing under Hackworth are Valdes and Gomez with Torres, Pajoy, Martinez and Lopez benched or gone. In addition, the youth guys who were talked up in preseason (Pfeffer, Hernandez, McLaughlin) haven’t been seen.

    It looks like Hackworth was in firm disagreement with the Nowak’s decisions on tactics (new system under Hackworth), development (new coaches) and signings (new scouts), yet he was #2. Just interesting stuff and it’ll be more interesting if Hackworth gets the job in the offseason.


  • Union67

    The Union are way too Smurfish throughout their roster and especially up front. McInerney is not a got to guy, he’d be better coming off the bench. Hoppenaut is clone of Danny Cruz with no touch. They pinball around for 90 minutes and accomplish nothing. Adu is supposed to work with that? Dont’ get me wrong to me Freddy is just a part of the puzzle and is not our game breaker. He’s 23 and not 30 so it’s possible. On another post I suggested possibly trading Adu to NYRB for Le Toux and another player with size,speed and the ability to head the ball. They also need a DP or 2. The Unions best threat since it’s inception was the Le Toux and Mawanga tandem. The had size,speed and skill. That is what the Union need instead of the Smurfs who get constantly boxed out. The team also can’t defend set pieces to save their necks. MacMath could’ve used another year with Madragone.On National TV they faced a tired RSL and they were lucky with the draw. I also wonder if Hackworth can actually coach men or is it just youth he’s comfortable with. If that’s the case he is just a babysitter. I really hold Sakiewicz and the ownership goup responsible for this entire season fiasco, along with the departed Nowak. They had a chance to build off of last years accomplisments and did everything wrong. Philly is a top sports market and we deserve a top team. Montreal is doing everything the Union should’ve done and had better do moving forward!


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