PBP: Union Have Something to Build From

Draws in soccer can be both good and bad. In the case of the Philadelphia Union, it’s not the point they gained on Saturday vs FC Dallas, but rather the way they earned it, that makes it a very good point.

On the day they had the better of the ball possession, had more shots, shots on goal, and corner kicks than did their opponent. Having said that, they were still trailing 1-0 entering stoppage time.

A loss there would have meant a five game losing streak heading into a bye week. Maybe some heads would be down, a result of another frustrating good effort that resulted in no points.

Instead, the overall number one draft choice in Major League Soccer, Danny Mwanga, came through. His goal, with time running out, re-energized an amazing crowd of 25,000 plus, sending them home happy. Mwanga had struggled like most rookies do in their first season. He wasn’t getting much playing time, and at times was not in his normal forward position. In his limited time on the field in 2010, he looked uncomfortable with and without the ball. On Saturday, he looked extremely confident and comfortable when striking that game-tying goal from about 15 yards out.

The other good thing about his first pro goal is that he got a chance to celebrate it, as opposed to Jack McInerney, whose first MLS goal came in a 3-1 loss in Los Angeles. Congrats to Danny Mwanga on his first professional goal. Here are some other positives for the Union from this past Saturday.

• Chris Seitz had his best game of the season. While he only made 3 saves in the game, they were good ones. More impressive was his poise and confidence. He made no serious errors. Nothing he could do on the Brek Shea goal. After allowing 2 goals in each of the first 4 games, then 3 goals each in the next 2, this is something for Seitz to build on. It was his 7th consecutive start this season, which matches the total number of starts in his first 3 seasons in the league.

• I thought overall the back four had their best game of the season as well. Danny Califf and Michael Orozco were strong in the center, taking Jeff Cunningham out of the game. Jordan Harvey made some big plays on both sides of the ball, and Cristian Arrieta had a good bounce back game after the Real Salt Lake loss.

• Despite scoring just that one goal, the offense is clearly more effective with Sebastien Le Toux back in the lineup. Le Toux had four shots, all on target, as the team fired 21 shots towards FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. The team also earned 10 corner kicks. If Kevin Hartman didn’t bring his “A” game to the Linc in that first half, Philadelphia could have had 3 or 4 goals.

• An enthusiastic crowd stayed with the team right till the very end. Sons of Ben looked and sounded strong in the end zone. The two games at the Linc attracted an average crowd of over 29,000.

Now it’s a bye week with Philadelphia off until May 29th vs Houston and another three consecutive road games for this expansion team. But then, another moment Union fans have been eagerly awaiting...the opening of PPL Park. How's that for an exciting next home game?