CHESTER, Pa. – Philadelphia fans were treated to another nail biter at PPL Park on Saturday, with Sebastien Le Toux’s 95th minute penalty kick goal the difference in a 2-1 Union win that snapped Toronto FC’s eight match unbeaten streak.
"I think it was a fortunate reversal today," said Union manager Peter Nowak said after the match. "It was good to win a game in this fashion. I think the better team won today. We slept one time and got punished for it. It feels good to get three points.
"We lost to Toronto before, and we won this game, so that is improvement...When we played the game in Toronto, it was a little easier to go through them. On the defensive side, they played the LA Galaxy twice and didn’t concede a goal. The game in Toronto was quite open. I think they’ve definitely improved. For us, the difference is that we got three points in a game where we really needed it. After the San Jose game and the Celtic game, you can see that the concept and the structure are getting better."
After a slow start to the match that saw each club feeling out the other, Toronto had the first chance in the 15th minute after a giveaway in the back, but Chad Barrett’s attempt from the left side of the area went high and wide.
In the 22nd minute off a restart, Le Toux sent a ball low and hard into the area from 40 yards out that Danny Califf was nearly able to run onto, but the ball snuck through and found its way into goalkeeper Stefan Frei’s waiting arms.
In the 27th minute, Le Toux sliced through Toronto’s defense and unleashed a strike from 22 yards out, but the low attempt wound up inches wide of the near post.
In the 36th minute, Le Toux collected a ball at the top of the area and laid it off to Mwanga, but the rookie’s volley from 20 yards out went over the bar.
In the 42nd minute, Barrett had another golden opportunity from close range to the left of the goal, but Michael Orozco Fiscal was able to deflect the attempt away at the last moment.
The Union nearly found a go-ahead goal in the dying moments of the first half. Alejandro Moreno found Le Toux open at the edge of the six yard box off a throw-in, and the Frenchman dribbled around defender Adrian Cann and slid a pass to Jordan Harvey in front of the net. While falling to the ground, Harvey was able to get a shot off with Nick Garcia sliding towards him, but the defender’s angled attempt knocked off the far post and caromed away from danger.
The Union continued to pressure in Toronto’s territory in the early stages of the second half, but failed to convert off of three consecutive corners.
Philadelphia would get their go-ahead goal shortly thereafter, however. In the 61st minute, Le Toux drove a perfect ball into the box off a corner kick, and Orozco Fiscal was able to leap and tuck the ball just within the near post with his head to give the Union a 1-0 lead.
Toronto managed to find an equalizer in the 81st minute, momentarily stunning the hometown crowd. Off a throw-in deep in Philadelphia’s territory, Barrett leaped and flicked the ball on with his head over a diving Chris Seitz to tie the match at one goal apiece.
With only seconds left in the match and a disappointing tie on the horizon for the home side, a handball in the box by Maxim Usanov set up a dramatic 95th minute penalty kick for Le Toux. The Union’s leading scorer made no mistake, stepping up to the spot and burying the PK into the top right corner to send the home crowd into a frenzy.
"We go from day to day and week to week," Nowak said about his club's outlook for the rest of the season. "We play in different weather conditions, and I believe the quality is getting better, much better. Considering that we’re not yet in the middle of the season, we should have more points as a team.
"This is a work in progress. We didn’t score from the corner kick and we worked and worked and worked, and eventually we got rewarded. The same thing happened at the end of the game. We pushed and pushed and pushed and we got rewarded. It’s a simple game, and it’s a very funny game. We’re going to make a couple of adjustments and hope to be in good shape at the middle of the season going forward."
The final whistle blew less than a minute after Le Toux's game-winner, giving Philadelphia a much needed three points at home. The expansion side will face English Premier League side Manchester United this Wednesday, July 21 at Lincoln Financial Field before returning to MLS action against New England at PPL Park on July 31.
PHI – Michael Orozco Fiscal 1 (Sebastien Le Toux 7) 61’
TOR – Chad Barrett 5 (Dan Gargan 3) 81'
PHI – Sebastien Le Toux 7 (Unassisted) 95+
Toronto FC -- Stefan Frei; Dan Gargan (Maksim Usanov 84), Nana Attakora, Adrian Cann, Nick Garcia; Fuad Ibrahim (Maicon Correa 63), Amadou Sanyang, Julian de Guzman, Nick LaBrocca (Jacob Peterson 72); Dwayne De Rosario, Chad Barrett.
Philadelphia Union -- Chris Seitz; Michael Orozco Fiscal, Cristian Arrieta, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey; Sebastien Le Toux, Stefani Miglioranzi, Amobi Okugo (Nick Zimmerman 87), Fred; Alejandro Moreno (Jack McInerney 54), Danny Mwanga (Andrew Jacobson 82).
TOR -- Dan Gargan (caution; Reckless Tackle) 28'
PHI -- Danny Califf (caution; Tactical Foul) 38'
PHI -- Cristian Arrieta (caution; Tactical Foul) 48'
Referee: Ramon Hernandez
Referee's Assistants: Chris Strickland; Adam Wienckowski
4th Official: Lee Suckle
Time of Game: 1:56