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06 / 06

United Draw with AFC Cleveland in Return Home

WRITTEN BY: Jeremy Sampson
PUBLISHED ON: June 06, 2014

After two weeks on the road, United treated fans to an entertaining game of soccer, drawing with A.F.C. Cleveland 2-2 Friday night.

United fought back from an 1-0 deficit to tie and eventually take the lead before Cleveland leveled the score late.

“It was an exciting match for sure,” head coach Eric Rudland said. “I was proud of the guys. We talk about tenacity at halftime being a goal down and I thought we came out in the second half and made the game exciting.”

United had control of the game early and nearly found the back of the net, but Cleveland goalkeeper Spencer Semple denied scoring opportunities from both Brendan Finnerty and Matt Brown. Cleveland was able to hold off United’s attack and then took advantage of a free kick, opening the scoring in the 39th minute, as Michael McGlaughlin scored off a rebound.

“The first goal was really unfortunate,” United goalkeeper Zach Bennett said. “I went for the ball to just try and cover it and it hit the crossbar and they were fortunate that it went right to them and the guy put a good foot on it.”

United forward Tyler Pasher nearly brought the game level in the 56th minute, but his shot that hit the inside of the post was cleared away.

“We didn’t even talk about the goal at halftime,” Rudland said. “We just focused on the positives and tried to talk about the changes we needed to make and the mentality we needed to enter the second half with.”

That mentality finally paid off, as substitute Marcos Ugarte, playing his first game for United, scored to tie things up in the 68th minute. Ugarte chipped Semple from just outside the six-yard box on the left sideline, placing the ball in to the top right corner of the goal.

“It was pure luck,” Ugarte said. “I meant to cross it, but it found its way into the back of the net. I’ll take it.”

United continued to put pressure on Cleveland, but the lead eluded them until the 89th minute when Pasher latched onto a Ugarte through ball and beat Semple, who had come up with save after save on Pasher all night.

“After the fourth, fifth chance, it felt good,” Pasher, the Dean Trailways Man of the Match, said. “It took a couple, but I finally got one in.”

“I thought Ugarte came on and he was a game changer for us and Pasher is just tough to deal with because of his pace,” Rudland said. “I think the combination could work well.”

The lead didn’t las for long though, as Cleveland got a goal back in stoppage time. Smart Osadolor beat Bennet at the back post after a flicked ball by one of his Cleveland teammates off a throw-in.

“We just kind of let up there last minute and didn’t quite mark up the back post well enough and the guy put it away,” Bennett said.

United had the advantage in nearly every category on the night, dominating in possession, as well as leading in shots, 18-11, and corner kicks, 9-2, but they could not find the result they were looking for.

“Their backline was pretty secure,” Rudland said. “Credit to their center backs, I thought they played very well.”

Overall, Rudland was encouraged by his team’s performance.

“I thought we did a lot of things really well tonight, so we’ve got to take the positives and move on,” Rudland said.

The draw moves United into a three way tie atop the Great Lakes West, as United, Detroit City and Indian Fire all have 14 points.

United will be in action on Sunday when the team hits the road to take on the Cincinnati Saints (1-0-5). Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.

Also, there will be a live stream of Sunday’s match for all of those not traveling to Cincinnati.