Union earns 1-1 tie at FC Dallas

Posted: May 20, 2012

FRISCO, Texas - The new-look Union looked a whole lot like the old Union on Saturday night at FC Dallas Stadium - very little offense.

But with just-acquired Michael Lahoud plugged in for suspended Freddy Adu in the midfield, just-traded captain Danny Califf gone from his familiar spot at center back and stalwart goalkeeper Zac MacMath replaced by with untested Chase Harrison, the Union managed to rally for a 1-1 tie against just-as-depleted FC Dallas.

As impossible as it seems for a team that entered the match with a mere seven goals in nine games and the fewest shots in Major League Soccer, the Union for more than 50 minutes were even more punchless. At halftime, the club had not recorded an attempt on goal, the first time this season the Union had gone through a half without a shot. Ten minutes into the second half, they still hadn't generated a legitimate chance.

"We were on the road and we weren't aggressive to start the game," defender Sheanon Williams said, "but we came in at halftime and said, 'We're not out of this at all. We can still get after them and get one back.' We showed that in the second half with a lot more fight."

As it turned out, they were merely waiting for the right time. In the 56th minute, defender Carlos Valdes - Califf's replacement as captain - fired a long ball into the left side of the box, and FC Dallas' Carlos Rodriguez beat Lionard Pajoy to it. But the ball caromed off Rodriguez's head directly to Union midfielder Gabriel Gomez, who flashed in from the right and headed it past goalkeeper Kevin Hartman to tie the score - with the Union's first shot.

That was all the scoring the Union could muster, though they turned up the heat on the attack and finished with nine shots. Meanwhile, Harrison and the defense kept Dallas, playing without four starters because of injury and suspension, out of the goal after the seventh minute despite numerous chances, allowing the Union to leave with a satisfying draw.

It was just the sort of performance coach Peter Nowak was looking for.

"We tried to make it better," he said. "Now we are more dangerous, and people are looking at what we're going to do. We create the chances, we get the shots. The back line is stepping up, so now we have room to play and create the chances. It's time."

The Union (2-6-2) fell behind almost before they said hello to Lahoud, who came to the club in the trade that sent the popular Califf to Chivas USA and started in his first game for the Union.

Former Union midfielder Andrew Jacobson set up the sequence by taking a long pass from Hernan Pertuz and forcing Harrison to knock his shot over the goal. Brian Leyva's ensuing corner kick was headed by George John across the goal, where striker Blas Perez found it for a diving header into the open net for a 1-0 Dallas lead.

But Harrison held up from that point, making two saves, including a dazzling kick save to stop Perez from close range in the 83d minute, and challenging Dallas' shooters in a game that turned rough - six yellow cards were issued, four against the Union. Dallas' Pertuz and the Union's Gomez and Valdez were removed because of injuries, and Harrison wound up with ice on his left ankle in the postgame locker room.

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