On Friday, August 24, 2012, the Philadelphia Union hosted the Real Salt Lake at PPL Park Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Going into the game, the two teams were at opposite ends of the standings. The Union were nearly at the bottom of the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer while their opponents were near the top of the Western Conference. It was likely a good surprise for Union fans when the team managed to hold on for a scoreless draw during the match and preserve the team's slight lead over the New England Revolution and the Toronto FC in the MLS standings.
The game marked the first time the Union used Danny Cruz, the newest player on the team. The Union were missing Sheanon Williams, who had received a red card in the previous match, and Gabriel Gomez, who was playing with Panama's national soccer team. The game play was defensive in nature with both teams attempting to keep the game play away from the goals. Though both teams seemed to give the game everything they had, both took one point from the match. If the Union had been able to keep up this level of game play over the entire season, the team would have been a legitimate contender for the playoffs.
Going into the game, I had thought that the Union would be unlikely to win. I was skeptical that the players would be able to handle a team that had done so well over the course of the season. I'm glad to see that I was wrong. It was actually quite the opposite, it seems. The Union had several opportunities to take the victory, but failed to capitalize on any of them. On the one hand, it was an accomplishment but on the other hand, it seems that the players for Real Salt Lake were having a bad night. With the regular season starting to wind down, it is unlikely that the Union will be making a second consecutive playoff appearance. While that is disappointing, there is a lot to look forward to in the 2013 season. Perhaps the team will even be able to once again be a playoff caliber team.
Kristin Watt lives in central Pennsylvania and has no local major league sporting teams in the area. She has chosen to adopt Philadelphia's teams, including the Philadelphia Union, as her own home teams. Philadelphia is close enough to make a daytrip out of a game and still not have to get a hotel room.