MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)
04/11/2014 5:00 PM
04/11/2014 5:10 PM
Real Salt Lake (2-0-3) at Philadelphia (1-1-3), 4 p.m.
Chester, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Philadelphia Union return home looking to get back on the winning track on Saturday as the club faces a stern test against Real Salt Lake at PPL Park.
It hasn't quite gone to plan early in the season for Philadelphia. The newly- signed midfield has played well with newcomers Cristian Maidana, Vincent Nogueira and Maurice Edu, but a lingering problem from 2013 has reared its ugly head this season.
Philadelphia developed a bad habit of conceding late goals last season, and that problem has shown up again this season. Through five games, Philadelphia has given up equalizing goals in the 80th minute or later three times this campaign.
Last Saturday against the Chicago Fire, it happened again and this time the club was lucky to come away with a point.
Chicago opened the scoring in the 16th minute when Mike Magee got on the end of a low cross in the box and smashed it into the roof of the net.
But Philadelphia responded well to falling behind and drew level in the 32nd minute when Edu netted his first goal for the Union and Leo Fernandes gave the club the lead seven minutes later.
The Union held the lead deep into the second half and looked like they would come away with an important road win, but some poor set-piece defending in the 86th minute allowed Juan Luis Anangono to head home a Magee free kick.
It got worse for the Union in stoppage time when defender Aaron Wheeler, filling in for an injured Austin Berry, hauled down Anangono in the box for a penalty kick.
Magee stepped up and hit it low and hard, but Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath got down to his right quickly to make the save and then robbed Magee a second time on the rebound.
"Right now it's a problem," defender Sheanon Williams said of allowing a late equalizer for the third time this season. "It's something that we have addressed and will continue to address. But it comes down to guys buckling down at the end of matches and just not giving up a goal. That starts with the defense and moves forward. We are going to figure this out; we have to figure this out to get to where we want to be at the end of the season."
RSL maintained its early unbeaten record last Saturday after battling the defending champion Sporting Kansas City to a scoreless draw in a rematch of last season's MLS Cup final.
Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella played the hero for RSL as Sporting created several outstanding scoring chances, but could never get on past the RSL 'keeper as he made nine saves in place of starter Nick Rimando.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game no matter what," RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said. "This is a tough place to play. They are the reigning MLS champions, but we feel really good coming in here and playing a solid game, putting out a solid performance and coming away with one point and getting a shutout.
"It was fantastic," Cassar said of Attinella's performance. "He commanded his box. We have a ton of confidence in Jeff and he has been training extremely well this year, playing extremely well. We talked earlier in the week about opportunities and taking your opportunities and running with them. Jeff did that tonight."
Attinella is likely to get the starting nod again this week for RSL as Rimando returned from U.S. national team duty with a knee injury.
In six meetings between the sides, Philadelphia has never beaten RSL, entering Saturday's match with two defeats and four draws.
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