Josh Yaro's mistake costs Union in draw with Atlanta United

Josh Yaro's mistake costs Union in draw with Atlanta United


CHESTER, Pa. -- Another Josh Yaro mistake, another draw for the Union.

One week after delivering an unnecessary stoppage time foul that gave the San Jose Earthquakes a game-tying penalty kick over the Union, Yaro made another crucial mistake on Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium.

“He’s young,” captain Alejandro Bedoya said. “That’s a little bit of inexperience and a touch of luck. He’ll learn from his mistakes.”

Early in the second half of the 2-2 draw with Atlanta United, the young Union defender let Josef Martinez slip by him on a breakaway in the 52nd minute. It forced Yaro into hauling him down from behind, earning the defender a red-card ejection.

“He’s such a fast guy, strong, he didn’t need to foul him there,” veteran Haris Medunjanin said. “He knows that he’s the last guy so when you foul him you need to get the ball, otherwise you will get the red and that’s what we got.”

After a valiant defensive effort, the Union eventually cracked in stoppage time, when Atlanta’s Tyrone Mears cleaned up a clear by floating a header goal over a committed Andre Blake to lock the final score at two.

“I’m gutted for them because you don’t prepare for Tyrone Mears to score a flukey head ball from almost outside the box,” manager Jim Curtin said. “It was a strange goal and very difficult for the guys.” 

It was a brutal stretch for the Union, now 8-12-7 and three points above the Eastern Conference basement, who watched two leads slip away in the course of one week.

“Devastated for the guys in that locker room,” Curtin said. “It’s not about the playoff race, results that went our way tonight or different things like that, it’s about a group of guys, in this case 10 guys, that finished the game to close it out and win. They put so much into it.”

But despite the late tension, the Union owned the early going. Roland Alberg opened scoring for the Union in the 18th minute, when he fooled the Atlanta back line and accepted a lofted through pass from Giliano Wijnaldum. The potent Dutch scorer took the pass neatly off his chest and poked it past Brad Guzan for the 1-0 Union lead. 

It was Alberg’s sixth of the season.

Union made it 2-0 in impressive fashion in the 24th minute with Bedoya’s first of the season. From the left side, Alberg played a corner kick into the box that was deflected by Jack Elliott and in the air toward the far post. From there, Bedoya connected on an overhead kick to double the Union’s lead.

“It was good to see it go in,” Elliott said. “It was fortunate for me to get a toe in. It doesn’t always work but that one did.” 

But Atlanta would battle back just two minutes later when Martinez played a diving header to the left side for a wide open Yamil Asad to cut the Union’s lead in half, 2-1.

After one of his most impactful games of the season, Bedoya will be suspended for the Union’s next game. Just ten minutes into the contest, the captain clipped Jeff Larentowicz to earn a yellow card. It was his fifth of the season, earning the automatic suspension against Minnesota United on Sept. 9.

“It feels like crap,” Bedoya said. “It’s so frustrating. Sometimes you just need a little bit of luck your way. That’s what this game is about sometimes. Right now, we’re not getting any breaks.” 

Union believe they found their missing piece

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Union believe they found their missing piece

David Accam is a dream come true for the Union.

“At the end of the season, we talked about adding players and David was at the top of our list,” Union sporting director Earnie Stewart said. “I didn’t think that would be a real option. When it comes along, it’s incredible.”

Shocking as it was for Stewart, the Union pulled 27-year-old Accam from the Chicago Fire for allocation money at the 2018 MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 19. With his ability to create one-on-one opportunities and punish teams on the counter-attack, Accam, who had 14 goals and eight assists last season, is a perfect fit in the Union’s 4-2-3-1 system, and the exact type of “difference-maker” the team was looking for.

“David is known in the league for his speed, but when we scouted him we noted just how good he is on the ball,” Union manager Jim Curtin said Tuesday at the official introduction of Accam at Talen Energy Stadium. “The space he creates for others because he is so dangerous. When he gets one-on-one, his quality will take over games and it’ll create a lot of space for the rest of our players.”

From Accam’s perspective, he’s joining an established attacking group. Specifically mentioning Union leading scorer C.J. Sapong and winger Fafa Picault, Accam expects to have space to work.

“We have enough quality on this team already,” he said. “I just have to do my part.”

On top of his offensive acumen, Accam knows MLS. What attracted the Union to the speedster is not only his skill but his familiarity with the league. Unlike European players that take time to adjust to the climate, travel and style of play, Accam should make an instant impact on the Union.

“He’s been now, for multiple years, a top attacking player in our league,” Curtin said. “He’s got the statistics to back it up. The fact that he has a familiarity with the league, he knows the defenders will be grabbing and kicking him for 90 minutes, and that matters a great deal. It makes the transition more seamless. 

“He’s a great fit for us.”

But snagging that perfect fit wasn’t free. Acquired in one of the largest trades in Union history, the attacker was moved by the Fire in exchange for $1.2 million in combined allocation money. According to Stewart, the speedster, who was ripe for a new deal, signed an extension with the Fire before the team moved him to Philadelphia.

“Our understanding is that David has an obligation now with the Union through 2020,” Stewart said.

Despite scratching out a significant name off their wishlist, the Union aren’t quite done adding players, with the expectation that they bring in a playmaking midfielder. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be going on a shopping spree.

“I think we are in a better place than we were last year with the acquisition of David,” Stewart said. “There will be a little more happening but not much more because I believe the foundation is solid. With the acquisition of David and one more player in the near future, we’ll be in good shape to compete for the playoffs.”

Union acquire electrifying winger in major trade

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Union acquire electrifying winger in major trade

The Philadelphia Union didn’t make a pick in the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft on Friday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

But the hometown team still made one of the biggest splashes of the day.

Between the first and second rounds, Paul Tenorio of ESPN FC reported that the Union had a trade in place for electrifying winger David Accam, sending a palpable buzz through the ballroom. Not long after, the move was officially announced and the Philly fans in attendance finally had something to cheer about after a quiet-to-this-point offseason.

“I know there was some impatience with the timing of things,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “But this is a special player we added — one that changes the whole dynamic of our team.”

The move wasn’t cheap as the Union dealt $1.2 million in allocation money to the Chicago Fire in exchange for the Ghanaian speedster, who’s bagged 33 goals and 15 assists over the last three MLS seasons.

But if he can stay healthy and keep producing at the rate he has been, the Union think it can be a bargain.

“A David Accam on the open market is significantly higher than what we paid today,” Curtin said. “I can tell you with confidence if we shopped around for someone of David’s quality and production, we’d spend a heck of a lot more money than we did today.”

Accam will likely start on one of the wings opposite fellow burner Fafa Picault with leading scorer C.J. Sapong up top. That still leaves a hole in attacking midfield that the Union need to round out their offense — a position which Curtin and sporting director Earnie Stewart said the club is still searching for.

“With Fafa, with Accam, with C.J. Sapong, those guys will create a lot of space for whoever plays in that No. 10 spot during the course of the season,” Curtin said. “That’s something that makes other teams worry. When we get off the bus, you have to account for David Accam. So that’s a real positive.”

Accam has a unique backstory, playing at the Right to Dream Academy from 2004 to 2008 in his native Ghana, before moving to England on a student visa and playing for Ledbury Town and Evesham United. After taking part in “The Chance” competition, a Nike event to find undiscovered soccer talent, he moved to Swedish club Ostersund in 2012 and then to top-flight side Helsingborg later that year.

After starring for both clubs, he was signed by the Fire as a Designated Player and has been a consistent goal-scoring threat in Chicago. Since he came to MLS in 2015, Accam is one of just six MLS players to total at least 33 goals and 15 assists in league play, along with stars Sebastian Giovinco, David Villa, Diego Valeri, Ignacio Piatti and Kei Kamara.

“As we said a while back, we’re trying to find some difference-makers for our team to help us over those humps in certain games,” Stewart said. “We believe a couple of difference-makers can help that. And once David Accam came around, it was really clear to us that was a target that we wanted to make sure happened. And we as the Philadelphia Union made sure we stretched ourselves to make sure this player came aboard. We’re just very pleased that we were able to accomplish this.”

The Union also made a couple of other smaller moves leading up to the draft, signing defenders Matt Real and Mark McKenzie to Homegrown contracts.

Signing both players when they did was a good indication that the Union valued them both as much, if not more, as any guys they may have been able to draft had they not previously dealt away their picks.

And it’s even better that both Real and McKenzie came through the Union Academy and are more familiar with the club than a kid coming out of college would have been.

“Everybody has a different path,” said McKenzie, an 18-year old center back from Bear, Delaware. “All of these guys that got drafted today are great guys. … But myself, coming through the academy and when I was at the pre-academy when I was 11 and 12 and worked my way up to the U-14s to the U-18s to the [Bethlehem] Steel, it’s been an absolute honor and a blessing. I’ve been pushed and challenged at each level, and I’m looking forward to the future and what that holds.”

“It’s a big moment for me,” added Real, an 18-year-old who played for USL affiliate Bethlehem Steel FC last year. “These last couple of weeks for me have been surreal. I’m still kind of soaking all this in.

“Mark is my brother. Me and him have been playing together since the academy started. We graduated together, we’re on the [U-20] national team together. So this couldn’t be any better for me to share a moment like this with him.”