Since their season-opening victory against New England where they bagged a pair of goals, the Philadelphia Union have found it tough to find the back of the net. A scoreless draw versus Columbus was followed up by a dismal 3-0 road loss against the Colorado Rapids a week ago.
In Saturday’s date with the San Jose Earthquakes, Jim Curtin’s side had the majority of both possession and offensive chances but against lacked the ability to score. However one moment of skill by winger Fafa Picault helped the Union draw level in the second-half after conceding before halftime.
Picault, breezed down the left flank and was able to deke Quakes right-back Nick Lima to the side before crossing to Alejandro Bedoya. The midfielder headed Picault’s cross into the top-right corner to beat Andrew Tarbell in the 64th minute and tie the score at 1-1.
“It was my first official game since last October, so I think I did a lot of things well,” Picault said. “Definitely there are things to build on but I’m happy with how things went.”
Picault had finished serving a three-match suspension for an incident in the Union’s final preseason match in Florida. His pace on Saturday caused trouble for the San Jose defenders, while offensively he called his own number a few times. His flying header in the 42nd-minute was saved by Tarbell on his line, before later setting up Bedoya with a terrific back post cross.
“Borek (Dockal) played me out wide, and in that situation where I get a one-on-one most of the times I think I can beat a defender,” Picault said about the goal. “I saw Ale coming back post so I wanted to get a soft chip so that he could pick where he wanted to head it. He did a good job of getting onto it and heading it in.”
The Union have now found the back of the net for the first time since opening day and are hoping to keep their heads up offensively. Curtin was proud of the performance by his players, but was also disappointed that they didn’t come away with all three points.
“We had a lot of opportunities, a lot of hard work, and everyone did their jobs, but on the night we felt we deserved more,” Curtin said. “Credit to the guys, I think our goal scored was an excellent team goal and we thought that would open the floodgates.”
Even with a lot of attacking talent in his starting lineup, Curtin praised Picault for his performance in his first match back. The Union manager now hopes to get more from his speedy winger as the season pushes forward.
“The performance by Fafa made a big difference, he really impacted the game in a major way,” Curtin said. “Even some of the small stuff he did was beneficial to the team as a whole.”
Bedoya showed his frustration in his post-match press conference with the draw, knowing how hard the team worked for a win. A first-half strike from Earthquakes Magnus Eriksson put the Union behind 1-0, despite allowing minimal chances towards goal.
“I’m frustrated I mean it’s crap to have to tie, especially with how well we played in the opening 30 minutes,” Bedoya said. “The first half we dominated and we haven’t been able to get anything out of it. We need to have more sense of urgency in the final third, get more guys into the box, and make more decisive runs. It’s just not good enough right now and we’ve let ourselves down.”
The draw has Philadelphia sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with five points through four matches. Their three goals scored are the second fewest in MLS this season, and Bedoya knows that will need to change for the team to improve in the standings.
“The good thing is we aren’t playing bad so that’s a positive,” Bedoya said. “But overall we need to put the ball into the back of the net or else we wouldn’t have to suffer like this.”
The Union (1-2-1) conclude a two match homestand on Friday as they welcome Orlando City to Talen Energy Stadium.