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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Sunday, May 20, 2012


There were plenty to reasons to worry about the Union's odds Saturday night. The most-daunting one was standing between the posts, looking like a HI-LITER.

Chase Harrison had never started an MLS game. Heck, he had never even appeared in one. So getting the start Saturday in place of injured goalkeeper Zac MacMath meant the Union would have to step up big in front of the 28-year-old Harrison.

They didn't, but that didn't matter.

Harrison played well -- far better than the two saves spotted him by the official MLS stat sheet -- and he and the Union earned a 1-1 draw against FC Dallas.

Here's one way to look at the tie: It could have gone a lot worse. Sure, Harrison took some bumps and lumps in the match -- including an uncalled-for, stoppage-time barreling into by Andrew Jacobson. (Somehow, Jacobson didn't earn a booking, but Harrison got one for delay of game. But that's neither here nor there.)

It had to have been a cause for concern for Union boss Peter Nowak when he found out MacMath, who took a knock in training Wednesday and sustained more of those troublesome concussion-like symptoms, wasn't going to make the trip to Dallas. Then, to have to turn to Harrison -- a total newbie to MLS -- made matters worse. Harrison's kicked around the MLS reserve goalkeeper pool, in cases of emergency, but he's never made a match.

That's what made his showing Saturday so impressive.

“He was very courageous on a couple of corner kicks and crosses and the free kicks from the sides," Nowak said of Harrison. "As you can see right now, he took some hits.  Some hits on the head and some on the ankle. So listen, you always keep everyone fresh and everyone on their toes because you never know what is going to happen."

Nowak ranted all offseason about how unnecessary it would be to seek out and sign a veteran 'keeper, instead of relying on Harrison and third-stringer Chris Konopka. Harrison's performance could have made Nowak eat his words, especially because Nowak clearly wasn't counting on MacMath getting clipped so soon in the soon.

But Harrison showed up Saturday, earned his paycheck and shouldered the weight of a club that looked in-flux on the backline after trading its captain and centerback this week. For that, Harrison deserved more than a draw against Dallas.

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