REPORT | Columbus Crew 0-0 Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake was the Philadelphia Union hero as his fantastic performance ensured the Union came away from the Lower.com Stadium with a 0-0 draw against the Columbus Crew.
Blake was on hand to deny Pedro Santos from the penalty spot in the first half as he got down to his right-hand side to save the spot-kick.
Lucas Zelarayan thought he had given the Crew the lead with a smart outside-the-foot finish. However, Erik Hurtado was stood in an offside position while obstructing Blake, thus causing the goal to be disallowed for offside after the VAR review.
Jim Curtin made four changes following the midweek defeat to Chicago Fire. The Union coach changed the formation opting for a 5-3-2 as Olivier Mbaizo, Stuart Findlay, Cory Burke and Chris Donovan came into the starting XI.
Jose Martinez missed the game due to suspension, while Nathan Harriel, Julian Carranza and Mikael Uhre all dropped to the bench.
It took until the 16th minute for either side to create a chance. Columbus Crew won a free-kick 25 yards from goal, and Lucas Zelarayan was the man to take it. He tried his luck, but his low-driven free-kick was right at Andre Blake.
Moments later, Darlington Nagbe's powerful effort forced Blake into more serious action. A switch of the play opened up the Union defence, and the ball was laid off to Nagbe just inside the penalty area. He struck it first time, and his curling effort towards Blake's near post forced him to push it behind for a corner.
From the resulting corner, Columbus Crew were awarded a penalty. The corner was sent deep into the box, and the referee believed that Daniel Gazdag had done enough to foul Sean Zawadzski.
Pedro Santos was the man to take the penalty but saw his spot-kick saved by Blake. He placed the penalty towards Blake's right-hand side, and the goalkeeper did well to get down and palm it behind for another corner, which came to nothing.
Gazdag had the Union's first opportunity of the game in the 26th minute. He struck it from distance, but it was a comfortable save for Eloy Room.
In the 41st minute, Nagbe almost gave Columbus the lead with a fantastic strike. He was allowed time and space around 25 yards from goal, and he directed a fierce shot towards the near top corner of Blake's goal. It had plenty of power, but he could only find the side netting.
HALF-TIME: Columbus Crew 0-0 Philadelphia Union
The Union had a fantastic opportunity to take the lead just after half-time. Kai Wagner's corner was flicked on by Ale Bedoya at the near post, and his flick-on went towards the back post. It was begging for a Union player to bundle it home, but no one was able to take advantage, with Gazdag being the closest to it.
In the 66th minute, Zelarayan thought he had given Columbus the lead. A nice passing build-up saw the ball played out wide to Santos. He played a low ball towards Zelarayan, who was just inside the penalty area. He struck it first-time with the outside of his boot as he found the bottom corner.
However, the Columbus Crew celebrations were cut short as the goal was disallowed for offside. After second viewing through VAR, the referee saw Erik Hurtado obstructing the view of Blake in an offside position, so he disallowed the goal.
In the 75th minute, Blake came to the Union's rescue again. Hurtado was allowed to receive the ball in acres of space just inside the penalty area. He opted to shoot towards the near post of Blake's goal, but the Jamaican goalkeeper did a great job to get across to it and push it over the crossbar.
Julian Carranza, who replaced Cory Burke, had a great chance to give Philadelphia the lead in the 84th minute. The Argentinian received the ball inside the penalty area, and the opportunity to score opened perfectly for him. He shaped to try and curl his shot towards the bottom corner but did not make clear contact with his effort as it went down the middle, and Room saved with his legs.
FULL-TIME: Columbus Crew 0-0 Philadelphia Union
Columbus Crew: Room, Mensah, Williams, Degenek (Etienne 80'), Moreira, Nagbe, Morris (Igbekeme 60'), Zawadzski (Molino 80), Santos, Russell-Rowe (Hurtado 46'), Zelarayan
Unused Substitutes: Diaz, Anibaba, Bush, Berry, Sands
Philadelphia Union: Blake, Mbaizo (Harriel 88'), Glesnes, Elliott, Findlay, Wagner, Bedoya, Gazdag, Flach, Donovan (Uhre 69'), Burke (Carranza 69')
Unused Substitutes: Freese, Bendik, Real, Turner, Bueno