Union get 1-1 draw at Minnesota United thanks to C.J. Sapong's 13th goal of season

MLS Union Minnesota United Soccer-09092017-0001
Minnesota United midfielder Jerome Thiesson and Philadelphia Union forward Chris Pontius chase down a loose ball during the first half.

An early goal from C.J. Sapong was enough to give the Union a 1-1 draw with Minnesota United at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

The Union started the game brightly, and were rewarded when Sapong scored his 13th goal of the year in the fifth minute.

Minnesota equalized in the 40th after a series of defensive mishaps by the Union. Loons centerback Francisco Calvo pulled off a 360-degree spin move that took him past Oguchi Oneywu and a half-committed Keegan Rosenberry, then hit a shot that Andre Blake spilled into a crowd of players. Ethan Finlay emerged from the pack, jumped past Blake and tapped the loose ball into the net.

The momentum stayed with Minnesota in the early stages of the second half. In the 55th minute, Onyewu had to foul Finlay to stop him from surging forward, and drew a yellow card that triggered a one-game suspension for card accumulation. The veteran defender will miss next Sunday’s game at the New York Red Bulls (1 p.m., ESPN).

Oneywu’s night got even worse in the 67th minute. He committed a handball in the Union’s 18-yard box that gave Minnesota a penalty, and referee Sorin Stoica gave Onyewu his second yellow card of the night for the infraction.

But just when Onyewu was getting ready to leave the field, video-replay official Edvin Jurisevic signaled from the replay booth to Stoica that the play was being reviewed. Stoica watched the footage on a field-level monitor, and saw that Onyewu had been pushed in the back by Minnesota’s Michael Boxall before the ball arrived. Stoica reversed the penalty and the card, giving Onyewu and the Union a major reprieve.

Suddenly, the Union had new life. They had much more of the ball for the rest of the game, but they couldn’t put any of their chances in the net.

At the other end of the field, Blake put his first-half mistake behind him with a few solid saves. He ended the night with five of them in all.

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