Despite late chances, Philadelphia Union hold on for late draw against Vancouver Whitecaps
Matias Laba and Richie Marquez battle for the ball in the air.Image Courtesy of The Associated Press/Matt Slocum

The Philadelphia Union visited BC Place to take on Vancouver Whitecaps for the 2017 Major League Soccer season opener Sunday night, as they began their first of many matches without the injured Joshua Yaro

Union start on the front foot

Philadelphia started fthe first half well, attacking out of the gates quickly, as well as pressing and possessing the ball but things settled quickly with both teams testing their respective keepers with early crosses.

The first real chance of the game, however, came in the 8th minute when Erik Hurtado split the Union center backs with a pacy run down the middle but was found to be offside before he could get a shot off.

Just moments later, Matias Laba picked up the ball on the edge of the Philadelphia box and let one rip for the first shot of the game, but the Argentine's effort was well wide of goal.

Chances exchanged as the half wears on

Kekuta Manneh came within inches of the opening goal when he was played in behind the Union defense but Union goalkeeper, Andre Blake handled the winger's shot in a juggling-esque manner in the 13th minute. 

Moments later, Vancouver left back, Jordan Harvey made a near goal line clearance when Fabinho's low hit cross nearly found the feet of a lurking Chris Pontius.  

Manneh would again torment the Union defense when a poor pass found the feet of the Gambia native but his attempted chip was handled by Blake much to the relief of Oguchi Onyewu.

Cristian Techera then missed a golden opportunity in the 24th minute when Vancouver once again split the Union center backs but the Uruguayan native dragged his shot wide despite being one on one with Blake. 

The Union close out the first half positively 

Philadelphia had a rare shot on goal in the 35th when Jay Simpson turned his defender nicely and let one rip from the edge of the box, but David Ousted was up to the challenge and caught it with ease.

Philadelphia then pulled something out of the playbook in the 43rd when Alejandro Bedoya headed a free kick across goal, a trick that they would use several more times throughout the match but the offside flag flew up before Jay Simpson could knock the header in the back of the net.  

Early second half chances 

Vancouver began the second half well with Alphonso Davies running at Keegan Rosenberry on the wing but the Rookie of the Year runner-up did well to read the dribble from Davies and make the clearing tackle in the 47th minute.  

The Union would then answer in the 48th with a shot from Bedoya that was palmed away out of danger by David Ousted, before Bedoya threatened moments later in 49th when he back-heeled a Chris Pontius cross toward goal but the effort was tame and Ousted collected with ease.   

Shots a plenty and things get physical

Philadelphia continued to pile on the chances in the 50th when Fabian Herbers attempted a volley following another headed effort across the box but his shot was blocked. 

Onyewu then manhandled Davies in the 58th and was fortunate to get away without a yellow but Vancouver would record another shot on goal on the ensuing free kick, however, it wasn't enough to trouble Andre Blake. 

Andre Blake was at his goal saving best on Sunday night.
Andre Blake was at his goal saving best on Sunday night.

Keegan Rosenberry came to the rescue in the 66th when a Vancouver corner found the feet of Jordan Harvey who hit the ball hard at goal on the half volley but Rosenberry cleared the ball off the line and Onyewu blocked the follow-up shot. 

Afterward, Chris Pontius attempted a reply in the 69th, dribbling through several defenders before letting a shot rip but his lone wolf effort did little to trouble Ousted's goal. 

Blake becomes Manuel Neuer

Andre Blake would make yet another headline-worthy save, running out of his area in the 76th to head the ball away before a Vancouver player could latch onto the long ball.

Both teams continued to push late on to find the opening goal and substitute Fafa Picault would have his first major contribution of the match in the 78th when he floated a header across goal, following a cross from Rosenberry on the overlap but his effort would swerve just wide of goal as the search for goals marched on. 

Finally, despite a late flurry of chances from Vancouver sub, Brek Shea and concerns over a potential injury to Union left back, Fabinho, Philadelphia held on to earn a well-deserved draw in Vancouver.