Two Houston Dynamo goals off set pieces weren’t enough as Sebastien Le Toux and rookie Danny Mwanga scored second-half goals to earn the Philadelphia Union a 3-2 victory at Robertson Stadium on Saturday night.
It was the expansion team’s first-ever win on the road, and the result ensured the Dynamo continue their pattern of alternating between wins and losses.
All week the Dynamo had talked about starting the match with the same intensity the team brought in its game against D.C. United last week. However, in the first half Houston were flat and lifeless and the Union took full advantage.
The visitors capitalized on their better play in the first half when Shea Salinas took the ball toward the corner before slipping by defender Bobby Boswell and breaking free on goal. As Pat Onstad came out on Salinas, the Union midfielder deftly chipped the ball from a tight angle to give the Union the halftime lead.
The home team attempted a response in the second half, with head coach Dominic Kinnear bringing on forward Brian Ching to a near standing ovation. The Dynamo forward took out his frustrations at missing the World Cup by converting a header off Brad Davis’ set piece in the 52nd minute to tie the game.
The momentum then began to swing heavily in Houston’s favor.
The Dynamo continued to press and took the lead in the 59th minute. The hosts were deadly on set pieces, and it was a Davis’ free kick—once again—that found the head of Eddie Robinson. The defender converted from short range to hand the Dynamo the lead.
However, Philadelphia manager Peter Nowak made some key substitutions of his own, bringing on Mwanga after the first Houston goal and Roger Torres after the second. And both bench players provided the inspiration for the equalizer—Torres deftly chipped the ball into the path of Mwanga, whose first touch was near perfect as he laid the ball off to forward Le Toux. The Frenchman converted from the top of the box and again the score was level.
Houston had several set pieces late, but they failed to convert them and were punished in injury time. Le Toux drove down the left side of the Dynamo defense and dropped the ball off to Mwanga, who calmly finished to give the Union a 3-2 victory.