CHESTER, Pa.Kyle Nakazawa thought it was in.
With Saturdays game between the Philadelphia Union and Portland Timbers locked in a scoreless draw, the midfielder took a perfect cross from teammate Justin Mapp and drilled a shot he was sure would propel Philly to their first victory since the middle of July.
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But he could only watch as the shot bounced off the crossbar as the Union walked away with a hard-to-swallow 0-0 draw in front of a sellout crowd of 18,504 at PPL Park.
When I first hit it, it didnt look like it was going to the crossbar, but then it rose in the last minute, said Nakazawa, who came into Saturdays game in the 77th minute. I hit it well. I just didnt get over it enough.
Thats everyones dream story, coming in the last 10 minutes and scoring the winning goal, the midfielder added. Its obviously frustrating, especially getting the tie and that I could have put it away with that goal.
The Union had other good chances to score too, but just couldnt find the back of the netwhich was odd because thats all they did just three days earlier in a 4-4 draw with the New England Revolution.
Aside from Nakazawas late blast, the Unions Sebastien Le Toux also nearly scored in the 28th minute when the midfielder received a chip pass from Roger Torres and fired a shot just wide.
We deserved the three points, Union manager Peter Nowak said. I applaud their effort after the tough game on Wednesdayyou saw some of them start to get tired and thats why we made the substitutions. I think it was a tough stretch for us with three games in one week but we have to move forward.
I thought a lot of our guys played well tonight, added Union midfielder Brian Carroll, who Nowak said played exceptionally well in the holding midfield spot. Its just unfortunate we were not putting anything away. I think we controlled most of the match. I just felt they were content to come out of here with one point. Obviously were not happy with the one point but well take one vs. zero.
The Timbers (9-12-6), despite bunkering in for much of the game, had their share of scoring chances as well, but rookie Zac MacMath was stellar in goal for Philly. After a starting debut to forget in Wednesdays wild 4-4, MacMath made four saves to earn his first career shutout.
The rookies biggest save of the game came late in the first half when he stoned Portlands Jorge Perlaza from point-blank range. The University of Maryland product was also effective in deputizing the back line and aggressively coming off his line to scoop up crosses.
I think he was very good, very stable, Nowak said. He gave us a lot of confidence in the back line. The whole back line played a very good, exceptional game.
With Saturdays result, the Union (8-7-12, 36 points) are now all alone in third place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Houston. Thats pretty impressive considering they havent won in their last eight tries but the Union had hoped to pick up more than just two points in this past weeks three-game stretch.
If you ask anyone in the locker room, theyll say wed like to have all of those games back and get some better results, Nakazawa said. But its over. Were moving on and looking forward to our next game.
That next game comes in a week when the Union welcome the Columbus Crew for their third straight home contest. The Crew are currently tied for first place in the Eastern Conference, four points up on the Union.
There are going to be more tough games and its going to be crucial that we get those points, Le Toux said. We have a playoff-type game coming up with Columbus next week and we are going to be ready for it.
E-mail Dave Zeitlin at email@example.com.