Thursday, August 05, 2010

Columbus tops Union at PPL Park

By John McMullen

Chester, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - Substitute Steven Lenhart scored a pair of goals Thursday night as the Columbus Crew invaded PPL Park and downed the Union 2-1 in front of 18,001.

Lenhart, who entered the game in the 27th minute as a substitution for Jason Garey, matched his goal output l for the entire season, and secured things by depositing a header past embattled Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz in the 50th minute.

The Crew, 11-4-4 with an Eastern Conference best 37 points this season, were coming off a rather surprising 3-1 setback to Chivas USA last weekend, a game in which they lost star midfielder Eddie Gaven to a concussion.

With or without Gaven this looked like a tough matchup for the expansion Union (4-9-3) but Philadelphia has made a habit of dominating possession on the pitch at PPL Park and tonight's match followed that same story line.

Seitz got to take most of the first half off as his counterpart with the Crew, William Hesmer, kept the Union at bay.

Union strikers Stefani Miglioranzi and Justin Mapp, starting for rookie Danny Mwanga, both had chances from distance but Hesmer steered Miglioranzi's away in the 14th minute, while Mapp sailed his over the croosbar in the 21st.

A Sebastien Le Toux free kick in the 29th minute after Alejandro Moreno was taken down from 25 yards out was on target but deflected away in the crowded box.

Mapp, who showed a lot of creativity in space in his second outing with the Union since being acquired from Chicago, had a second look from 30 yards out in the 34th minute but came up empty when Hesmer made a diving save.

The Crew finally got a chance in the 42nd minute and took advantage. Fred was handed a yellow card resulting in a free kick for Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Schelotto sailed the kick behind the defense and Lenhart headed it past Seitz.

It looked like the Union would head to the locker room facing the 1-0 deficit but Frankie Hejduk was whistled for taking Le Toux down in the box during stoppage time. The French star pounded home the ensuing penalty kick in the 48th minute, his ninth goal of the season, to deadlock things at 1-1.

Any momentum the Union took into the second half was stymied after Emilio Renteria let loose a beautiful crossing pass for Lenhart, who raced by Philly captain Danny Califf and dove for another header that easily solved Seitz in the 50th minute.

Philadelphia had a few chances to even things in the closing moments but came up short each time. The best opportunity came in the 85th minute when the Union came within inches of the equalizer as the ball was rolling along the goal line, but a diving Jack McInerney was unable to tap it home

The Union, who will travel to face FC Dallas on Sunday, finished a four-game homestand at 1-2-1 and remain eight points behind both Toronto FC and San Jose for the final playoff spot in MLS.

State of the UNION:

*The Sons of Ben, the team's fan club that who inhabits The River End at PPL Park, started a Mwanga chant in the 59th minute. Mwanga, the No. 1  overall pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft and the Union's second leading scorer, never saw action. Mwanga has been battling an ankle problem and wasn't available, according to team manager Peter Nowak.

"We tried in the warm-up to see where he was at, but there was no chance for him to play,” said Nowak. “He was not available to us.”

“I wanted to be on the field helping my teammates,” Mwanga told Philadelphiaunion.com. “I couldn’t sprint. I knew if I couldn’t sprint, I couldn’t play. I want to work as hard as possible to ready for Sunday.”

*McInerney turned 18 today. The youngest player in MLS, McInerney has seen action in 11 games this season and notched one goal. He entered in the 83rd minute tonight as a sub for Mapp.

*Miglioranzi felt tightness in his groin in the 41st minute and replaced by Kyle Nakazawa. Fred was replaced in the 77th minute by Andrew Jacobson.

“It doesn’t appear to be too bad, but I didn’t want to take any chances,” said the 32-year-old Miglioranzi. “I didn’t want it to be a situation where I played through it and I ended up hurting it worse and then would miss one to two months. I’m a lot older than I used to be so I have to be smart about my body."


*Le Toux  received his Green Card, freeing up an international spot on the club's roster. Philadelphia used the spot to sign central defender Juan Diego González Alzate. Born in Medellín, Colombia, González brings a wealth of experience to the Union, as he has played for clubs in Colombia, Argentina and Mexico.

Praised throughout his professional career for his leadership in the back line and his heading ability, Gonzalez won a Colombian Cup with La Equidad in 2008 and an International Mercosur Cup with Argentinean San Lorenzo in 2001. He will be eligible to play for the Union upon receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.

Finnish player Toni Stahl, Argentinean Eduardo Coudet, and Colombian Roger Torres are the Union's other players occupying international spots.

*Philadelphia team manager Peter Nowak and Crew coach Robert Warzycha both played professionally in Europe and the Polish National Team before finishing their careers in MLS. Both retired in 2002.

*Moreno and Miglioranzi both won an MLS Cup in 2008 with the Crew. Moreno spent '07-09 in Columbus before heading to Philadelphia in the expansion draft. Miglioranzi made Ohio his home in '07 and '08.

*Union defender Shea Salinas remains out with a fibula fracture in his left knee while Torres continues to sit with a balky ankle.

Scoring Summary:

CLB - Steven Lenhart 3 (Guillermo Barros Schelotto 7) 43'

PHI - Sebastien Le Toux 9 (Unassited) 48+

CLB - Steven Lenhart 4 (Emilio Renteria) 51'

Misconduct Summary:

CLB -- Brian Carroll (caution; Reckless Foul) 37
PHI -- Fred (caution; Reckless Foul) 42

Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Danny O'Rourke, Chad Marshall, Andy Iro, Emmanuel Ekpo (Leandre Griffit 83), Shaun Francis, Brian Carroll, Frankie Hejduk, Emilio Renteria (Duncan Oughton 73), Jason Garey (Steven Lenhart 27), Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

TOTAL SHOTS: 10; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; FOULS: 12; OFFSIDES: 4; CORNER KICKS: 2; SAVES: 2

Philadelphia Union -- Chris Seitz, Cristian Arrieta, Danny Califf, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Jordan Harvey, Fred (Andrew Jacobson 77), Eduardo Coudet, Stefani Miglioranzi (Kyle Nakazawa 40), Justin Mapp (Jack McInerney 82), Alejandro Moreno, Sebastien Le Toux.

TOTAL SHOTS: 12; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; FOULS: 13; OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 3

Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: Paul Scott; Brian Poeschel
4th Official: Abiodun Okulaja
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Cloudy-and-83-degrees
Attendance: 18,001
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