Chester, Pa. (August 11, 2010) – After scoring early, Philadelphia Union (4-10-4) were unable to capture three points for the fourth straight match, playing to a hard-fought 1-1 draw with defending MLS Cup champions Real Salt Lake (10-4-6) at PPL Park. Rookie Danny Mwanga put the Union up 1-0 in the eighth minute, but Fabian Espindola equalized less than 10 minutes later and neither club was able to find a go-ahead goal the rest of the match despite a number of chances for the home side.
The Union didn’t take long to strike first, capitalizing on a throw-in within Salt Lake territory. Sebastien Le Toux gathered the ball with his back to the goal 22 yards away, masterfully flicking it with the outside of his right foot to an onrushing Mwanga, who took three touches before calmly finishing into the lower left corner for a 1-0 lead.
The early pressure continued in the 13th minute when Mwanga beat Rauwshan McKenzie along the left endline and outran Tony Beltran into RSL’s area. The number one pick found fellow rookie Kyle Nakazawa at the top of the box, but the UCLA product’s left-footed volley was gathered by goalkeeper Kyle Reynish.
Salt Lake would find their equalizer in the 17th minute, when Espindola capitalized on a mistake by recent signee Juan Diego González in Philadelphia’s third. The Colombian defender misplayed a cross from Beltran and subsequently fell down, leaving Espindola to recover the loose ball, beat defender Danny Califf and easily pass goalkeeper Chris Seitz from the edge of the six-yard box to tie the score at 1-1.
The Union and RSL traded chances 10 minutes later, with Califf missing one chance and then preventing another on the other end. After failing to convert a header off a Le Toux corner in the 27th minute, the defender got a head to a cross from Morales just in time to prevent Pablo Campos from having a golden opportunity from only a few yards out in the 29th minute.
Le Toux sprung free for a breakaway less than a minute later, but the Frenchman couldn’t find an angle with Reynish sliding out to break up the play.
Philadelphia nearly broke the deadlock early in the second half after Mwanga earned a corner with strong work along the right flank to win the ball. Off of Le Toux’s service, Califf sent a header destined for the near post, but Reynish was able to get just enough of a touch to deflect it away.
In the 57th minute, Jean Alexandre unleashed a powerful strike on target, but Seitz was up to the task, diving to his left and knocking the ball away from danger.
Mwanga nearly notched his second goal of the night in the 61st minute, but his first touch from 25 yards out was too strong, allowing Reynish to come off his line and snatch the ball before a shot was attempted.
Le Toux’s work-rate nearly paid dividends for Philadelphia in the 69th minute when he won a ball along the right flank and sent a cross on the ground to a streaking Fred, but the Brazilian was unable to finish an angled attempt from close range.
The Union continued to press late in the match, but couldn't translate their chances into a game-winner. The tie brings Philadelphia’s home record to 3-2-3 and Salt Lake's road mark to 3-4-3. The Union will take to the pitch this Saturday, August 14 against Colorado, while RSL will travel back to Rio Tinto Stadium to take on the Eastern Conference leading Columbus Crew the same day.
PHI - Danny Mwanga 6 (Sebastien Le Toux 8) 8’
RSL - Fabian Espindola 5 (Tony Beltran 2) 17’
Real Salt Lake -- Kyle Reynish, Tony Beltran, Rauwshan McKenzie, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Andy Williams (Will Johnson 64), Jean Alexandre, Javier Morales, Nelson Gonzalez (Collen Warner 72), Pablo Campos (Robbie Findley 64), Fabian Espindola.
Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy, Robbie Russell, Nick Rimando.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; FOULS: 11; OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 6
Philadelphia Union -- Chris Seitz, Jordan Harvey, Juan Diego Gonzalez, Danny Califf, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Fred (Andrew Jacobson 81), Kyle Nakazawa (Amobi Okugo 63), Justin Mapp (Roger Torres 57), Eduardo Coudet, Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga.
Substitutes Not Used: Cristian Arrieta, Jack McInerney, Nick Zimmerman, Danny Cepero.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13; SHOTS ON GOAL: 7; FOULS: 13; OFFSIDES: 8; CORNER KICKS: 10; SAVES: 4
PHI -- Fred (caution; Reckless Tackle) 2
RSL -- Nelson Gonzalez (caution; Reckless Tackle) 37
RSL -- Jean Alexandre (caution; Reckless Tackle) 50
RSL -- Rauwshan McKenzie (caution; Reckless Tackle) 60
RSL -- Nat Borchers (caution; Reckless Foul) 79
PHI -- Roger Torres (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 93+
Referee: David Gantar
Referee's Assistants: Philippe Briere; Adam Wienckowski
4th Official: Jeff Gontarek
Time of Game: 1:52