By IVES GALARCEP
The Houston Dynamo and Philadelphia Union entered their Saturday clash at PPL Park struggling offensively, so it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that they would wind up playing to a goal-less draw.
Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall and Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath had little to do on a day when neither team could get going in the attack. They combined for just two saves on the day, with MacMath recording both in the 0-0 tie on Saturday.
Houston enjoyed the better of the play in the first half, but couldn’t translate that into scoring chances. The Union took command in the second half, showing more energy and playing sharper soccer, but their finishing let them down as they were forced to settled for a point at home after failing to register a single shot on goal.
For the second straight match, the Union had a man advantage late in the match, but failed to capitalize. When Kofi Sarkodie was issued a questionable second yellow card for time wasting in the 82nd minute, the Union were handed control late. But much as they did in their mid-week loss to the New York Red Bulls, the Union could not capitalize on being up a man, and failed to register a shot on goal.
The Dynamo will take the road point, as it snaps a three-match losing streak Houston has endured since losing captain Brad Davis to injury. Davis was out again on Saturday, leaving the Houston attack missing his spark.
The Union changed things up from the Red Bulls match, starting Conor Casey as the target striker in Philadelphia’s 4-3-3. Sebastien LeToux and Leo Fernandes were left out of the starting lineup, but came on in the second half to help provide a spark.
Philadelphia did mount pressure late, with Sheanon Williams’ dangerous long throws causing problems for Houston. The Union couldn’t make those throws count though, leaving Hall untested.
Andrew Wenger had a golden chance to score the winner in second-half stoppage time, but sent a shot from directly in front goal goal over the crossbar from seven yards out.
The Dynamo defense did well to contain Union playmaker Vincent Nogueira, while also negating Philly’s threat on the flanks. Philadelphia also did well to stifle Houston’s attack, with Maurice Edu playing well once again for the Union.
The loss extends Philadelphia’s winless streak to six matches. The Union will search for that elusive victory next Saturday against the Montreal Impact, which will mark the first meeting between the clubs since they swapped Wenger for Jack McInerney.
The Dynamo will stay on the East Coast, facing the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.
Here are video highlights of the match: