Chester, Pa (June 27, 2010) – A historic night at PPL Park became even more memorable after Philadelphia Union earned a decisive comeback victory over Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday. Sebastien Le Toux, Fred and Danny Mwanga netted second half tallies to erase a 1-0 halftime deficit and Chris Seitz's penalty kick save propelled the Union in front of an electric home crowd.
“I knew it was going to be a very good game," said Mwanga, who scored his fourth goal of the season. "Especially because we were going to be in front of our fans so it was extra motivation for all of us just being able to do that for them, to win that game for them for the first time in our new stadium, it was just the best feeling ever.”
The Union came out behind the intensity of the hometown fans and dominated possession for the first 25 minutes, but scoring chances for both sides were scarce.
The first real opportunity came in the 26th minute, when Le Toux worked a give-and-go with Alejandro Moreno at the top of the area before taking two touches and unleashing a low strike on net from 22 yards out. Kasey Keller was up to the task however, diving to his right to gather the tricky shot despite being shielded.
The Union came close again in the 33rd minute when Fred found Mwanga hovering outside the box. Mwanga one-touched a bending ball to Keller’s left, but the attempt narrowly missed the post.
Seattle’s first real chance came in the 38th minute when Freddie Ljundberg sent a dangerous cross from the right to the edge of the six-yard box, but goalkeeper Chris Seitz was able to get a touch and clear danger right before Seattle could head home the service.
Seattle would strike first before the half, with Pat Noonan netting the first goal in PPL Park history. Steve Zakuani cut into the middle of the field from the left touchline, sliding a pass to Fredy Montero at the top of the area. Montero reached for the ball with his right foot, managing to get just enough of a touch to re-direct the ball and split two Union defenders, leaving Noonan all alone to find the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Philadelphia would nearly equalize after the break on a Roger Torres corner, but a bouncing ball in the box narrowly missed crossing the goal line before the play was whistled dead as a result of an offside call.
The equalizer came in the 55th minute on a Le Toux penalty kick after Moreno was taken down in the box. Philadelphia’s leading scorer stepped up to the spot and hammered the ball into the upper right corner to even the score at 1-1 as Keller dove in the opposite direction.
Seattle has a golden opportunity to turn the momentum right back around in the 60th minute off a penalty kick of their own, but Noonan’s attempt was stopped by an enormous diving save by Seitz, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
Philadelphia would continue to control possession and pepper Keller with shots following their first goal, but blasts from Fred and Moreno couldn’t find their way past the former U.S. National Team goalkeeper.
The Union would find their go-ahead goal in the 79th minute. After a Le Toux cross managed to avoid a crowd of players from both clubs, Fred banged it home at the far post to put Philadelphia up 2-1.
The home side would gain a two goal advantage just minutes later, when Le Toux’s cross found Mwanga, who fired on net and then followed up his own rebound with a tap-in goal to give the Union a 3-1 lead.
The match would ends minutes later, leading to an eruption by the home faithful. PPL Park proved to make all the difference for the Union, with a powerful home field advantage fueling Philadelphia to a thrilling win.
"We knew what to do in the second half," said manager Peter Nowak after the match. "(We knew) how to play our game and the confidence of the whole group. They made themselves better and that is a very special feeling for the coaching staff knowing that these guys are hungry for success.
"This is just the first step. We know the feeling after we won (against) D.C. United and then what happened after that. It’s the balance between having an emotional breakdown or being too high with your feelings after the win. For me, I will let them celebrate today because it was a very special moment but tomorrow we go back to work.”
SEA – Pat Noonan 1 (Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani) 44’
PHI – Sebastien Le Toux 6 (Unassisted) 55’
PHI – Fred 1 (Sebastien Le Toux) 79’
PHI – Danny Mwanga 4 (Sebastien Le Toux) 84’
SEA -- Patrick Ianni (caution; Reckless Tackle) 20'
Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, Leo Gonzalez, Jeff Parke, Tyrone Marshall, James Riley, Steve Zakuani (Nate Jaqua 72), Patrick Ianni, Peter Vagenas (Mike Seamon 66), Fredy Montero, Freddie Ljungberg, Pat Noonan (Roger Levesque 80).
Substitutes Not Used: Nathan Sturgis, Tyson Wahl, Sanna Nyassi, Terry Boss.
Philadelphia Union -- Chris Seitz, Shea Salinas, Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Cristian Arrieta, Stefani Miglioranzi, Roger Torres (Andrew Jacobson 63), Fred (Amobi Okugo 81), Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga (Nick Zimmerman 87), Alejandro Moreno.
Substitutes Not Used: Shavar Thomas, Jack McInerney, Toni Stahl, Brad Knighton.
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee's Assistants: C.J. Morgante; Craig Lowry
4th Official: Hilario Grajeda
Time of Game: 1:52
Attendance: 18, 755
Weather: Clear and 90 degrees