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Union face tough test against Whitecaps FC

2:13 PM, Jul 26, 2013   |    comments
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Vancouver, BC (Sports Network) - The Philadelphia Union face a stern test on Saturday when the club travels to BC Place to face the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Philadelphia has been in excellent home form of late, going unbeaten in their last six matches at PPL Park, but the real test will be whether the club can carry their home form over to road matches.

Last time out, Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath and Portland Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts both made several outstanding saves as the clubs played to a scoreless draw.

Portland had the better of the play in the first half last week, but a 50- minute lightning delay at halftime seemed to benefit the home side immensely as they came out with more energy over the final 45 minutes.

Ricketts got a strong right hand to a powerful shot from Philadelphia's Conor Casey in the 76th minute, and Leo Fernandez banged one off the post late on as the Union put pressure on to find a winner, but they couldn't produce a goal and had to settle for a point.

It's been an up-and-down season for the 21-year-old MacMath, but Saturday's effort against a talented Timbers side was one of his best of the year.

"I had the same mentality I do every game," said MacMath. "You go out there and try to get your team a shutout and keep them in it and thankfully I was able to do that tonight.

It was a good tie for us against a good team; Portland has been playing really well this year and they are a tough team and they proved it tonight. But I thought we took the game to them in the second half and unfortunately we weren't able to put one away tonight."

Vancouver, meanwhile is coming off a difficult 2-1 loss at the hand of the Los Angeles Galaxy at StubHub Center last Saturday.

Whitecaps FC entered the Western Conference clash in fine form, riding a six- match unbeaten streak, and took the lead in the 19th minute when Canadian international Russell Teibert launched a long pass that found its way to Camilo on the left flank.

Camilo took a touch to control and slid it under the outstretched arm of Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini for his league-leading 13th goal of the season.

But the Galaxy pulled back an equalizer just 10 minutes later when Omar Gonzalez whipped a free kick into the area and it fell to the feet of Jose Villrreal, who tapped it home from close range.

Los Angeles took the lead for good three minutes before the break when Gyasi . Zardes ran onto a long ball over the 'Caps defense and stopped it near the byline. The striker cut back past Vancouver defender Brad Rusin and buried a low effort past goalkeeper Brad Knighton at the near post.

"It's disappointing we didn't keep our unbeaten run going. We've been on a good run, we've been playing very well and now we need to get ourselves back to doing that next week," said Whitecaps FC coach Martin Rennie. "We've got a home game against Philadelphia and we need to get on another run. We've had a lot of tough games and we've done pretty well in them but tonight wasn't as high a standard as we're used to and it's disappointing."

In three all-time meetings between the sides, each club has one win and a draw. Last season's only meeting resulted in a scoreless draw at PPL Park.

The Sports Network

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