By IVES GALARCEP
CHESTER, Pa.–The Philadelphia Union have been relying heavily on the goal-scoring production of Jack McInerney, but on Saturday they saw another player flash some impressive finishing ability.
Union midfielder Danny Cruz scored a pair of quality second-half goals one minute apart to help the Union earn a 2-2 draw on Saturday at PPL Park. The two goals came helped erase a first-half deficit, but the Sounders were able to salvage a point on the road after Mauro Rosales volleyed home a Mario Martinez cross in the 64th minute.
Cruz’s goals were very similar, with a pair of Union shots hitting woodwork before finding Cruz on the right side of the penalty area. On both occasions, Cruz struck his shot perfectly, leaving Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning with no chance to make a save.
The result will feel like a disappointing one for the Union, who created several scoring chances in the first half, only to see those chances wasted. McInerney hit the woodwork with a header in the first half and several other Union chances came close only to miss the mark.
The Union came away especially upset with a missed call late in the match when Sounders defender Leo Gonzalez blocked a shot with his hand in the penalty area.
“That shouldn’t have been a draw in any way, shape or form,” said Hackworth. “There’s a clear penalty at the end of the game. How it’s not called is beyond me.”
The Sounders will take the point after having to play without several key contributors. Oswaldo Alonso missed the match after the birth of his child on Friday, while Steve Zakuani, Obafemi Martins and Shalrie Joseph also missed the match.
“We have to take the point today, like it or not,” said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid. “It was a good team and a strong and physical team. To take the point, we wanted three and it was possible but in the end you one man down and have to take the point.”
The match was marred by some physical play that eventually led to some ugly moments late in the match and a pair of red cards to Sheanon Williams and Lamar Neagle. Sounders rookie DeAndre Yedlin was also issued his first career red card for a tackle from behind on Gabriel Farfan.
All three yellows were questioned in the post-match interviews, with Williams insisting he did nothing worthy of a red card.
“(The referee) said that we both head-butted each other, which is false,” Williams said. “I didn’t head-butt (Neagle); he didn’t head-butt me either. I asked (Neagle) when we were going off if he thought that I headbutted him, and he said ‘no.’ He didn’t headbutt me, and that’s the explanation that the referee gave us.
“If you want to give us a yellow for a shoving match, that’s fine, but to throw us out of a game for something that we both didn’t do, I thought that was just a little unfair.”
Referee Jorge Gonzalez’s terrible performance was capped by a missed handball call in second-half stoppage time as the Union pressed for a winner.
Union head coach John Hackworth didn’t pull any punches in his post-match press conference.
“Look, I’ll raise my hand and take a fine,” said Hackworth. “It has to be said that we cannot be in this league and have this level of play and have officiating be as bad as that.”
While the Union were angry with the missed penalty, one player who left PPL Park with a smile is Danny Cruz after the first multi-goal game of his career.
“That’s like a season total for me,” Cruz joked after the match (his career season best is, in fact, two goals). “I couldn’t be happier just to be able to contribute to this group of guys. Coach has faith in me and that’s something that has continued to drive me.
“I was just happy to see the ball go in the back of the net both times and hopefully can continue, in the upcoming weeks, to continue to contribute.”
For the Sounders, they will take a road point and prepare for a match on Wednesday against Sporting Kansas City. Seattle continues to have issues with injuries and other absences, which have kept the team from enjoying any sort of continuity this season. That is an advantage Schmid
“Today was our 10th different lineup in 10 games and our next game will be our 11th different lineup in 11 games,” Schmid said. “Philadelphia I think has played the same team the past four games, we haven’t had that luxury.
“So once we get to that level I think it will improve our play. It’s just guys missing, not knowing what the guy next to him is going to do. This is the first game Eddie and Lamar have played together. If you play more games together you have a better understanding of what the other person is going to do.”
Here are the match highlights: