Philadelphia Union Gain Crucial Road Point At New England Revolution
Photo Courtesy of Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Philadelphia Union traveled up to Foxboro, Massachusetts tonight to face New England Revolution and came away with a well-deserved road point.

Before the game, there was much commotion among fans over Philadelphia Union Coach Jim Curtin's selection of the 18. The sticking point for the fans was that Curtin was resting many of the usual starters, despite the fact that the Union needed three points to stay in MLS Eastern Conference Playoff contention. Two (Fabinho, Cristian Maidana) of the usual starting eleven started Saturday night with the other nine positions filled in by the bench players. 

Throughout most of the first half, Philadelphia was able to hold their own against New England. The makeshift backline of Andrew Wenger, Steven Vitoria, Ethan White and Fabinho was called upon to put out fires on defense and stepped up to the task. While this new backline of defense played relatively well, the Union offense was fairly stagnant In the 36th minute, the dynamic of the game changed as the Revolution were awarded a penalty due to Fabinho tripping Lee Nguyen in the penalty box. Nguyen would step up to the ensuing penalty kick and slot it home past a diving Andre Blake for the 1-0 lead.

Halftime would come only ten minutes later with Philadelphia only down one goal despite only possessing the ball 35% and creating no shots on target (2 shots attempted). To Philadelphia's credit, they were able to keep the game close even with New England's dominance in the first half.

In the second half, the Union offense was much improved. Only 20 minutes into the second half, Philadelphia's improvements would pay off. In the 65th minute, Union Forward Fernando Aristeguieta received a pass from defender Warren Crevalle unmarked around the top of the box. Aristeguieta was able to turn freely with the ball and launch a rocket into the near post past Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.

Even with the Union finding an equalizer on a great strike by Aristeguieta, the second half and the game turned into the Andre Blake show. In the second half alone, Blake made nine saves, including numerous point blank shots that required him to react quickly. In between the 71st and 80th minute alone, Blake made an impressive seven saves including an outstanding save on a Jermaine Jones long range strike heading for the upper 90 of the net. 

In the end, the Union, with many of their bench players starting, were able to hold onto a 1-1 draw thanks to Andre Blake. For the Revolution, who could have clinched a playoff berth with a win, Coach Jay Heaps will be disappointed in his squad for not taking advantage of their 14 corner kicks and 11 shots on net. However, the scoreline was less to do with New England not taking advantage of opportunities and more about Andre Blake consistently standing on his head in this match. 

With his play tonight, Blake will certainly give Curtin a very tough decision on whether to start the young Jamaican keeper or John McCarthy, who has started every game for the Union in the U.S. Open Cup this season so far.

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