Saturday, July 17, 2010

Le Toux lifts Union over Toronto FC

By John McMullen

Chester, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - Sebastien Le Toux's penalty pick in the final minute of stoppage time lifted the Philadelphia Union past Toronto FC, 2-1, Saturday afternoon in front of 17,251 at a steamy PPL Park.

Le Toux banged the penalty kick past star goalkeeper Stefan Frei into the upper right corner in the 95th minute of action to give the Union (4-8-2) the win and three points.

Philadelphia knew scoring wouldn't come easily against Toronto, which had not lost in eight games coming in and sported Frei, one of the best in MLS, in net. The Cal-Berkely product came into the game with 55 saves in 14 games, second best in the league, and six shutouts. The Union, meanwhile, had no shutouts and a netminder, Chris Seitz, that has consistently given up soft goals throughout the season.

Of course, testing Frei would have been nice. The expansion Union failed to record a shot on goal until the 61st minute when defenseman Michael Orozco Fiscal redirected Le Toux's corner kick with a header past Frei to give the Union the 1-0 edge. It was the first career MLS goal for Orozco Fiscal, an Orange Calif.
native that came to Philadelphia by way of the Mexican First Division.

The Union have geberally been plagued by one or two defensive lapses in most of their games and this encounter would prove to be no different. Toronto evened the contest in the 81st minute when Chad Barrett deposited his own header off a throw in for his fifth goal of the year.

A draw looked like it was in the cards until Toronto's Maxim Usanov was whistled for a handball in the box.   Frei had no other option but to guess as Le Toux, one of the league's top marksman, pounded it by him in the 95th minute.

The whistles sounded less than a minute later as the Union avenged an early season loss north of the border. 

"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."

Toronto had the first real scoring opportunity during the game in the 15th minute when Union defender Cristian Arrieta slipped in his own end, resulting in a turnover. Barrett tried to cash in but his shot was high and wide.

In the 22nd minute, Le Toux dribbled through the middle of the field and unleashed a low shot from 22 yards out that went wide left.

Philadelphia kept the pressure on in the 30th minute when Seitz ripped a beautiful outlet punt to Alejandro Moreno, leading to the contest's first corner kick that was headed away by Toronto.

Toronto's Dwyane De Rosario was taken down in the 35th minute and his ensuing free kick went harmlessly over the net from 35 yards out.

A Danny Califf yellow card almost cost the Union in the 37th minute. The Union captain took down De Rosario and Amadou Sanyang got a great look off the free kick but his header sailed over the crossbar.

Barrett had his second chance in the 42nd minute but his attempt, 10 yards out to the left of the goal, was deflected away by Orozco Fiscal.

The Union had their best chance of the first half in extra time. Le Toux got loose in front and found Jordan Harvey, who blasted a hot shot off the far post.

Philadelphia dominated possession in the second half but needed Le Toux's heroics after yet another defensive lapse that has become bit of a hallmark in its inaugural season.

"This is a work in progress," Nowak said. "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."

State of the UNION:

* Philadelphia midfielders Roger Torres (mild ankle sprain) and Shea Salinas (ankle contusion) missed the game. Torres was hurt in Wednesday's international friendly with Scottish Premier League heavyweight Celtic FC, just one day after his 19th birthday. Amobi Okugo, who had played just 127 minutes in six games coming in, replaced Torres in the starting lineup. The sixth overall selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, Okugo earned PAC-10 Freshman of the Year honors at UCLA last year. Okugo did a solid job before
leaving in the 87th minute for Nick Zimmerman.

*Moreno was able to go with a right knee contusion again. Moreno also played with the injury against San Jose on July 10, He left in the 55th minute of both contests. Jack McInerney replaced him this afternoon.

*The Union topped Celtic FC 1-0 on Wednesday. Le Toux scored the game's only goal in the 23rd minute.

"We understand it's a preseason game for them," Union assistant coach John Hackworth said. "For us, we're in good form and we used it to test some of our younger players. We don't take too much stock in it and say hey, we beat Celtic and we're one of the top clubs. We used it and we got a result, we got a shutout, and that's really important for us."

*The Union lost in Toronto, 2-1, back on April 15 in a game in which they played a man down for most of the encounter after Califf was handed a red card in the 34th minute. Toronto FC hasn't lost north of the border this season.

*Next up for the Union is English Premier League juggernaut Manchester United next Wednesday in another international friendly at Lincoln Financial Field.

*Danny Mwanga, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft draft out of Oregon State, Turned 19 today. He started his MLS career slowly but has come on like gangbusters. The rookie forward has five goals and two assists in just six starts and is tied with New England's Zack Schilawski as the leading scorer among all freshman. Nowak gets frustrated with what he perceives as inconsistency with Mwanga but his straight line speed really stands out in MLS. Mwanga was in the middle of the defensive lapse for the second straight game, however, and Nowak pulled him in the 82nd minute in favor of Andrew Jacobson.

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