by Kevin Kinkead
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The first yellow card shown to Eric Ayuk was a joke, but the second one wasn’t.READ MORE: 'There's A Lot Of Ghosts In Here': CBS3 Spends Evening In Believed-To-Be Haunted Neshaminy Creekside Inn
The Union’s 18-year-old winger was mercurial on Saturday night, scoring an excellent opener before his second half ejection.
It was a microcosm of the game itself; the 10-man Union settled for a 2-2 draw with the 10-man Impact despite a number of quality attacking moments. Ayuk’s bright start ended with a questionable sending-off, the same way each Philadelphia positive seemed to be paired with a negative.
“I’m so disappointed with the red card because it was not fair,” Ayuk told reporters post game. “I didn’t touch him. It’s the game. Sometimes it happens. I have the support of my friends and the staff, so that’s it.”
Ayuk didn’t specify which challenge he was talking about, but it’s probably the first one. It was a lunging poke on a loose ball and more of a pass attempt than a tackle. Ayuk caught a bit of Dilly Duka’s leg after he pushed the ball back to Brian Sylvestre and referee Sorin Stoica ruled it card-worthy.
The second yellow can’t be argued, as the young Cameroonian cleaned out Ignacio Piatto on a reckless challenge in front of the Montreal bench.READ MORE: 16-Year-Old Ahjaon Jackson Shot, Killed While Coming Home From Work With Twin Sister, Philadelphia Police Say
“We go up a man and it seems like we have all of the momentum in the world,” manager Jim Curtin said in his post-game remarks. “Then kind of a rollercoaster night for Ayuk, a young player who will hopefully learn from this. It’s a tough tackle to take. His first yellow card was not a yellow card so that put him in a bad spot. But when you know you have a yellow card, you can’t leave your feet like that and put it in the referee’s hands.”
As disappointing as the red card may be, Ayuk’s goal was equally positive.
Settling into a nice pocket of space, he took a one-touch layoff from C.J. Sapong and hit the ball flush, blasting a rocket past Evan Bush and into the back of the net.
“Before we came out for the first half, C.J. told me I should always stay near him to the post,” Ayuk explained. “So if Chaco can play one touch or C.J. can play two touch, I could stay and watch the goalkeeper. I watched the goalkeeper and took my chance.”
The goal was Ayuk’s second of the year, but it should have been his third. Back on April 11th, he ended up with an assist instead of a goal when a point-blank shot caught Zach Pfeffer’s rear end before it hit the back of the net.
That’s not a bad half-season for an 18-year-old who is brand new to Major League Soccer and North America.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Community Still Wants 'Real Justice' For Walter Wallace Jr. A Year After Fatal Police Shooting
“There were obviously some great moments, (such as) the goal, Curtin said of Ayuk. “We thought that was a matchup, we could have him go at their outside backs on the night. He did that to a certain degree, and then, unfortunate for him, the first yellow is one where he gets the ball first, and it’s almost like he’s passing it backwards. The follow-through is a little, they sell it pretty well but it’s not a foul, let alone a yellow card. Again, he’s gotta be smart, playing on a yellow card.”