CHESTER, PA– As the Philadelphia Union approached the second part of the final stanza at Talen Energy Stadium, they appeared to be down for the count against the New York Red Bulls.
But thanks to a C.J. Sapong penalty and a Chris Pontius equalizer in a span of two minutes, the Union left their home field with a well-deserved draw again their Eastern Conference rival.
The comeback was spurred by the addition of Fabian Herbers to the attack in the 64th minute. The rookie from Creighton University found plenty of space on the right wing and assisted on Pontius’ equalizer in the 68th minute.
“They probably deserved to be ahead in the first half,” Curtin said. “I thought our response was good, I thought that Fabian came into the game and made an impact, I was happy with all our guys. We’re at our best when we’re high pressing and pushing the tempo — we’re all on the same page. We did take risks for sure, down two goals you have to take some risk and I thought our guys did that today. Incredibly proud of the effort.”
“Even down a man we pushed the game and had opportunities to win it, ” Curtin said. “All things considered, a point is a fair result.”
“You take what they give you on every play,” Pontius said. “And that was just what we talked about at halftime. We could be a little bit more clinical with all our passing in the first half and a little cleaner on everything. We cleaned it up in the second half, and you see the result of it.”
Pontius has scored four goals against the Red Bulls this season, the first two strikes came in the U.S. Open Cup round of 16 victory on June 29.
“Red Bulls play a high line; they’re very aggressive,” Pontius said. “If you’re on on the night and your through balls are good, you can pick them apart. If you’re not, you can run into some trouble like we did in the first half tonight. They come out with so much energy and they high-press you, so first half is always difficult. Second half tends to open up more.”
The second-half work from the Union was similar to the effort they put in against the Red Bulls in the Open Cup win.
“We needed to get the ball to C.J.’s feet,” Curtin said. “In the first half I don’t think we played one ball into his feet — we played aerial balls that he had to battle two center backs for. Much better in the second half, similar to the Open Cup game. Two teams going at it. It was an exciting game for the fans, for sure. It needs to be said the fans were excellent tonight. It was a packed house and that’s as loud as it’s been in this building this year. I think our players deserve that.”
After dealing with the emotional draw, the Union now have to prepare for another two-game week that features a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal against the New England Revolution on Wednesday and a trip to Montreal to play the Impact on Saturday.