Caps in Union Standoff at PPL Park

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

For both the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Philadelphia Union, it was the best of times, and the worst of times - it all depends on which half of their match you'd care to talk about.

Playing their second consecutive road match, the Caps took the opening 45' in Chester, PA by a 2-0 score, only to tire dramatically and utterly collapse defensively from 46' minutes onward, allowing the Union to score three goals in a span of eight minutes before Pedro Morales notched a late PK, his third in two games, to make it a 3-3 final from PPL Park, on banks of the Delaware.

It was a match with a number of milestones: Vancouver extended its unbeaten streak to seven - a new club record; Whitecaps striker Erik Hurtado scored yet again, making it five markers in five consecutive matches; and Vancouver managed to finally score a goal in Philadelphia, and got their first-ever points out of the City of Brotherly Love. Vancouver now has points from their last four road matches.

Still, there's no escaping the abject disappointment of letting two points escape their grasp, and in seeing the six men closest to Caps keeper David Ousted reduced at times to little more than pylons. If you harboured any reservations about the Whitecaps' defence before the match, you're probably now downright terrified.

Two of the goals against came off of poor individual defensive play. First, when Andy O'Brien let Conor Casey slip past him him goal side, and then Leveron - whose contribution to the match was largely spent hoofing the ball 30 yards upfield but diagonally out of touch - when he inexplicably failed to close down Casey at the top of the box.

And there's more bad news... Jay DeMerit hobbled off the pitch after just 24 minutes, and early indications are that he suffered a tendon injury to the same foot that he injured so badly at the start of last season. It's all preliminary, but from the way things looked, the Caps' captain could be out for an extended period of time. O'Brien came on in his stead.

The opening minutes were scrappy and disjointed for both teams, particularly the Union who were able to move the ball well until the final third, where not only were Conor Casey, Danny Cruz, Zach Pfeffer, and Christian Maidana not on the same page, but reading from completely different tomes.

Vancouver relied on their thus-far successful recipe of counter-attacking football, and the Whitecaps got on the board first at 18', when Mezquida threaded a ball between two defenders to Morales, at midfield, who played it forward to Russel Teibert in acres of space. The Canadian picked out a charging Nigel Reo-Coker along the right flank, laying the ball diagonally into his path. Reo-C played a first-touch clip into the box where an unchallenged Hurtado climbed to head home to the bottom corner at the back post.

Vancouver's fast-transition attack clicked again shortly before halftime, when Reo-Coker found Hurtado on the right flank. One-on-one versus LB Fabinho, Hurtado wrong-footed the Brazilian, worked the ball deep to the end line, and then cut the ball back to Mequida, who had peeled back off of his mark and slammed a one-timer past Union keeper Zach MacMath short side.

Whatever Union coach John Hackworth told his team at the halftime break, it must have stuck. The Union came out of the chute on fire, and quickly took control of the match. Casey, got the Union to within one goal with a diving header in off the post at 63', and then just five minutes later Sebastien Le Toux, who'd just come on, fired home cross-grain top corner against Ousted to cap off a pretty passing play that saw Philadelphia absolutely shred the Vancouver defenders with a counter of their own. Casey got his brace just three minutes later, when nobody closed him down 24 yard out, allowing him to turn, aim, and fire low past Ousted.

Trailing 3-2 in the later stages of the match, Carl Robinson brought on Darren Mattocks, and pulled Mathias Laba, who had a very sub-par match, the only blemish of his season to date. Soon thereafter, Mattocks raced onto a long ball from Mezquida, raced into the box, took an all too heavy touch, but fortunately for the Caps was brought down my MacMath in the area. Referee Jose Rivero pointed to the box right away, and Morales barely converted the PK, as MacMath (who had stopped all three PKs he'd faced earlier in the season) guessed the right way, but watched helplessly as the ball skipped just millimeters over his outstretched arm.

Vancouver, and the rest of Major League Soccer are on a nearly three-week break during group stage play at the World Cup - with the exception of teams involved US Open Cup play.

The Caps' next play on Wednesday, June 25, when Vancouver plays host to the Montreal Impact at BC Place.

Highlights:


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