By Lewis Gould
Conor Casey is establishing himself as a real Major League Soccer star. But even his heroics couldn’t salvage a victory for the Union Saturday night.
Vancouver’s Pedro Morales buried a late penalty kick after Philly scored three unanswered goals as the Union and Whitecaps battled to a 3-3 draw at sold-out PPL Park.
Erik Hurtado had a goal and an assist and Nicolas Mezquida added a goal for the Whitecaps (5-2-6), who are unbeaten in their last seven league games.
For the Union (3-7-6), Casey had his second straight brace, Cristian Maidana had three assists and Sebastien Le Toux netted his fourth goal of the season
With the Union trailing 2-0 and looking dead in the water, Casey kickstarted the comeback with a diving header in the 63rd minute off a Maidana cross that pinged off the near post and into the back of the net.
Five minutes later, Le Toux tied the game just two minutes after coming into the game. Maidana started the play with a through ball to Vincent Nogueiraon the counter, who played a crisp pass across the face of goal to a streaking Le Toux.
Three minutes after that, Casey completed his brace with a low, driven shot into the corner of the net, with Maidana picking up another assist.
After David Ousted made a couple of big saves to keep Vancouver down by one, the Whitecaps drew even on a Morales penalty kick in the 81st minute. Morales beat Zac MacMath, who had stopped his previous two penalty kicks, after the Union goalie was called for taking down Darren Mattocks in the box.
Ousted made a big stop on Nogueira in the 86th minute to keep the game tied at 3-3 and then another on Amobi Okugo two minutes later. Maurice Edu put a shot just high in stoppage time.
Despite the Union generating most of the first-half scoring chances, the Whitecaps absolutely burned them on the counter before the break.
Hurtado opened the scoring in the 18th minute against the run of play, burying a header off a cross from Nigel Reo Coker, who was sprung free with a great through ball from Russell Tiebert. It was the fifth straight game (in all competitions) that Hurtado has scored.
In the 42nd minute, Hurtado struck again after the Whitecaps broke free on the counter following a giveaway from 19-year-old Zach Pfeffer, who was making his first start since the last game of the 2011 season. The second-year Whitecaps striker made an ankle-breaking move in the box to get past Union left back Fabinho and then played an easy ball across the face of goal to Mezquida, who had no trouble putting the visitors up 2-0.
Vancouver suffered a blow when center back Jay DeMerit had to leave the match just 25 minutes with what appeared to be a lower leg injury. DeMerit left the field without being able to put weight on his right leg.
The Union had their chances to score on the first half – mostly from the head of Casey, who scored his first two goals of the season in Philly’s 3-0 win over Chivas USA last week.