Union sit atop MLS Eastern Conference despite recent frustration

Union sit atop MLS Eastern Conference despite recent frustration
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The Union (5-3-4) were robbed of three points against Orlando City SC (3-3-6) Wednesday night as fans and players stood in disbelief and outrage as the final whistle sounded. Two controversial goals by Orlando City resulted in a 2-2 tie for the Union, leaving them with just one point atop a tight Eastern Conference.

In first place, the Union (19 points) could’ve stretched their lead over New York City FC (17 points), the New York Red Bulls (16 points), Toronto FC (16 points) and the Montreal Impact (16 points) in the East standings, but instead they’ll have to swallow their pride and keep on pushing.

“There were some controversial plays, no question about it,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. “I don’t know if it was right or wrong, but there was a lot of tough ones. They’re not easy calls, I’m not complaining but, at the same time, I think there were some [questionable] things that happened out there tonight.”

On the first Orlando City goal, a long ball sent into the box by Orlando City was being tracked down by Union goaltender Andre Blake, when Blake suffered a massive collision with Orlando City’s Cyle Larin as well as Union players Richie Marquez and Fabinho. The collision left a wide open net for Kevin Molino to tie the game up at 1-1, with what should’ve been ruled goalie interference.

Orlando City went up 2-1 on another controversial play involving Larin in the second half. Larin took a cross from Kaka and chested the ball towards the net, where Blake denied his shot to the left of goal. Fabinho seemingly cleared the ball away before it could cross the net line, but the referees signaled in a goal for Orlando City.

With most professional sports using replay and new technology to reverse controversial calls such as Larin’s goal, it doesn’t make sense that the MLS hasn’t followed suit. It will only hurt the integrity of the game until it’s fixed.

“We have a strong group and even if we have tough games like tonight, it was not easy for us tonight so we keep going,” Union midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta said. “To come back from the second goal shows we are really strong mentally and we always fight on the pitch and we try to keep going. Maybe tonight we also deserve a little more than one point but at the end we are happy we didn’t lose on the road.”

The Union have gone unbeaten (2-0-4) in their past six matches, their second-longest streak in club history. They have no time to rest as they face the best team in the league on the road Saturday, the Colorado Rapids (8-2-3).

The game will air at 9 p.m. on The Comcast Network.

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