Chester, Pa. (September 4, 2010) – A tremendous performance from Kansas City Wizards goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen prevented Philadelphia Union from taking three points on Saturday, with the match ending in a 1-1 draw at PPL Park. Sebastien Le Toux put the Union up 1-0 in the first half when he became the first player in MLS this season with double-digit goals and assists, but a well-taken second half free kick from Davy Arnaud leveled the match at one goal apiece.
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Kansas City came out controlling possession in the first 10 minutes, but only registered one harmless strike from distance by Arnaud to show for it. The first near goal came from Philadelphia, however, when Amobi Okugo intercepted a pass in the midfield and worked a give-and-go with Harvey to receive the ball down the left flank. The 19-year-old rookie sent a dangerous, bending cross into the area for Le Toux, but it was just out of reach for the Union’s leading scorer.
The Union would continue to press in the middle portion of the first half, nearly converting twice. In the 26th minute, Stefani Miglioranzi rifled a shot from 25 yards out that deflected off a defender into the post, and two minutes later Le Toux turned and unleashed a shot from just past the edge of the area, but Nielsen dove to his right to deflect it over the endline.
Philadelphia’s pressure would be rewarded in the 33rd minute. After a loose ball came to Justin Mapp, the midfielder slid a weighted through ball to Danny Mwanga, who was streaking down the left flank. Mwanga ran onto it just outside the area, taking two touches before finding an onrushing Le Toux in front of the goal. The Frenchman made no mistake, one-timing the ball past a lunging Nielsen to put the Union up 1-0.
Kansas City nearly equalized in the opening moments of the second half, but Michael Orozco Fiscal made a last-second, goal-saving tackle to knock the ball away from Ryan Smith just as the Arsenal academy product was about to shoot into a wide-open net.
Philadelphia had multiple chances to take a two-goal advantage, but Nielsen repeatedly came with acrobatic saves to stifle promising scoring opportunities.
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In the 53rd minute, Mapp took a pass from Mwanga 10 yards from goal to the left of the net, but Nielsen got his foot to the low strike to knock it away. In the 54th, Nielsen made another terrific save to stop a shot from a similar spot after Mwanga broke free for a breakaway. With former Union defender Shavar Thomas on his back, Mwanga attempted to beat the KC ‘keeper near post, but Nielsen was up to the task again. In the 66th minute, after a yellow card, Mapp sent a dangerous free kick into the area that found Le Toux, but his header that seemed destined for the near post was sent away at the last moment by yet another sprawling save.
Kansas City would level the match in the 71st minute with a pristinely-taken free kick from 30 yards out. Arnaud sent a perfectly placed ball from the left touchline to the far post, and a leaping Chris Seitz was unable to change its trajectory.
The equalizer would stand, with neither side able to find a late game-winner. Philadelphia still haven't recorded a shutout in league play this season, despite allowing only six goals in their last six matches in all competitions, 19 goals in their last 17 matches in all competitions, and just a single goal in eight of their last 12 league matches. Philadelphia will return to action next Saturday at PPL Park, where they’ll take on the Chicago Fire at 6:00pm ET.
PHI – Sebastien Le Toux 10 (Danny Mwanga 4, Justin Mapp 3) 33’
KC – Davy Arnaud 4 (Unassisted) 71’
KC -- Roger Espinoza (caution; Reckless Foul) 64
PHI -- Michael Orozco Fiscal (caution; Reckless Foul) 71
Kansas City Wizards -- Jimmy Nielsen, Michael Harrington, Jimmy Conrad,Shavar Thomas (Jonathan Leathers 65), Roger Espinoza, Davy Arnaud, Craig Rocastle, Teal Bunbury, Stephane Auvray (Josh Wolff 61), Ryan Smith, Birahim Diop (Jack Jewsbury 74).
Substitutes Not Used: Korede Aiyegbusi, Matt Besler, Graham Zusi, Eric Kronberg.
Philadelphia Union -- Chris Seitz, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Danny Califf, Juan Diego Gonzalez, Jordan Harvey, Andrew Jacobson (Jack McInerney 73), Stefani Miglioranzi (Roger Torres 46), Amobi Okugo, Justin Mapp (Alejandro Moreno 82), Danny Mwanga, Sebastien Le Toux.
Substitutes Not Used: Cristian Arrieta, Kyle Nakazawa, Brad Knighton, Sheanon Williams.
Referee: Ramon Hernandez
Referee's Assistants: Cameron Blair; Thomas Supple
4th Official: Jeff Gontarek
Time of Game: 1:50