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Union tries to forget the points that got away

It's not an unfamiliar position for the Union, leaving points on the field late in the game, and now the challenge is rebounding against one of the best teams in Major League Soccer.

(Russell Isabella/USA Today Sports)
(Russell Isabella/USA Today Sports)Read more

It's not an unfamiliar position for the Union, leaving points on the field late in the game, and now the challenge is rebounding against one of the best teams in Major League Soccer.

The Union are coming off a 3-3 tie Saturday at Real Salt Lake, a result that usually would be taken in a heartbeat against one of MLS's top franchises.

Yet the Union led, 3-2, before being called for a penalty, when Maurice Edu fouled Luke Mulholland in the box during the 85th minute. RSL converted the penalty kick and salvaged a point.

Mulholland was barely touched, but a foul was called.

Now the Union (0-0-2) must regroup, and do so against a certified MLS contender, when they host FC Dallas (2-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at PPL Park.

"It's a hard job to do, but there were some critical calls that maybe didn't go our way," Union coach Jim Curtin said. "We can't complain and dwell. We are looking to bounce back."

It's early, but FC Dallas is the lone MLS team to win its first two games this season (D.C. United is 1-0). In a league with so much parity, every win and every point is crucial.

So the Union believed they left two points on the field in Utah after opening with a scoreless draw against Colorado at home. Still, they have seen positives.

"Looking back at the two games, no team has broken us down in the run of play and that is a plus for us," said Union midfielder Andrew Wenger.

That's true. RSL scored twice off free kicks and a penalty kick.

The Union will be without creative midfielder Cristian Maidana, who suffered a knee injury in practice Tuesday, one that Curtin said could keep him out two weeks.

Zach Pfeffer, the 20-year-old midfielder from Upper Dublin, could be the replacement. Curtin wouldn't commit, but he didn't hide his enthusiasm for Pfeffer.

"He has always been a great offensive player who has a knack to score a goal, as much so as any midfielder on our team," Curtin said.

The Union coach said Pfeffer's commitment to defense has been his biggest improvement.

That commitment will be needed against a Dallas team that has won home games over San Jose (1-0) and Sporting Kansas City (3-1). Forward Blas Perez has three of Dallas' four goals.

"If you go back to about the midway point of last season, [Dallas] is in the upper echelon," Curtin said.

The Union believe they can compete with the upper-echelon teams. They did so last week, and maybe it's a sign of improvement that they weren't happy to leave Utah with two points fewer than they thought they deserved.

FC Dallas at Union

What: Major League Soccer

Who: FC Dallas (2-0) at Union (0-0-2).

When: Friday at 7 p.m.

Where: PPL Park.

TV: UniMas

Last meeting: The Union beat host Dallas in penalty kicks during a U.S. Open Cup semifinal Aug. 12, 2014. The teams played to a 1-1 draw and the Union won the penalty kicks, 4-3. The teams' last MLS game was a 2-1 home win by Dallas on July 4, 2014.

Goals for: FC Dallas 4, Union 3.

Goals against: FC Dallas 1, Union 3.

Outlook: FC Dallas is the only MLS team that has won its first two games after last week's 3-1 home win over Sporting Kansas City. ... Forward Blas Perez has three goals for Dallas. . . .Union coach Jim Curtin calls Dallas forward Fabian Castillo "one-on-one, the most dangerous guy in the league." . . . The Union will be without midfielder Cristian Maidana (knee) and forward C.J. Sapong (concussion/facial fracture). . . . Fernando Aristeguieta scored his first two goals for the Union in last week's 3-3 tie at Real Salt Lake.

- Marc Narducci