Saturday, August 14, 2010

Union settle for 1-1 draw with Colorado

By John McMullen

Chester, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - Murphy's Law has taken up residence at PPL Park.

The Philadelphia Union dominated play again at the pitch in Chester but could only muster a 1-1 draw against the visiting Colorado Rapids in front of 17,749 on the Delaware Riverfront.

It was all Union (4-10-5) in a scoreless first half as Peter Nowak's club continued to have trouble finishing. Philadelphia dominated possession and fired off seven shots to just four for the Rapids (7-5-7) in the frame.

Forward Alejandro Moreno, who was back with the club after missing last Wednesday's game against Real Salt Lake to play in a Venezuelan National Team friendly against Panama, had the two best chances in the half.

Moreno actually found the back of the net in the 16th minute off a crossing pass from Eduardo Coudet but was ruled offside. Then, in the 32nd minute, his strike from 14 yards out found the post.

The raucous crowd quickly deflated in the 59th minute when Philly native Jeff Larentowicz got the best of embattled Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz from distance. Seitz punched a crossing pass in the air but it deflected right to the foot  of Larentowicz, who ripped a 22-yard shot inside the far post.

"It was great," Larentowicz said of playing in his hometown. "I had a lot of family and a lot of friends that came out to see me. Just to play in front of them was a treat, but to score a goal was something really special. The ball got popped up in the air and I knew that Wells Thompson was going to head the ball. I was just trying to anticipate the ball coming down. Luckily I didn't have to do much as I was able to just shoot it in."

The Union's terrific offensive duo of Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga saved the point by working their magic in the 73rd minute. Le Toux took a nice long-distance service from Danny Califf in the area and dribbled to his left before turning and finding a streaking Mwanga. The rookie calmly snuck it by Colorado netminder Matt Pickens for his seventh goal of the year, the most among MLS freshman. Le Toux, meanwhile, is second in MLS to LA's Landon Donovan with nine helpers.

Philadelphia had a pair of chances to get the win in stoppage time. In the 92nd minute Le Toux was taken down in the box during a promising scoring opportunity but referee Terry Vaughn's whistle was silent.

Two minutes later defender Michael Orozco Fiscal appeared to put in the game winner but it was waived off by an offside call, the second goal of the match erased in that manner. .

Vaughn and his assistants, Greg Barkey and Corey Rockwell were serenaded with boos as they left the pitch.

Saturday's draw extended Philadelphia's winless streak to five games and was just the latest letdown for a team that has struggled defensively and shown a penchant for letting in soft goals. The expansion Union remain the only MLS team that has not recorded a defensive shutout this season.

In fact, no team in MLS history has gone the entire season without a defensive shutout with the record low being two, set on six previous occasions, most recently by the LA Galaxy in 2008. The Union has 11 games left to figure out the problem.

Seitz has faced most of the criticism and deservedly so since he was dead last in MLS with a 1.86 GAA coming into the game and had given up seven more goals than any other netminder.

State of the UNION:

*Union backup goalkeeper Brad Knighton was eligible to play today after being suspended for Wednesday's game against Real Salt Lake due to a red card ejection at FC Dallas last weekend.

*Union defender Shea Salinas remains out with a fibula fracture in his left knee. Midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi (strained groin) returned to the lineup for the first time since Aug. 8.

*Union starting defender Jordan Harvey spent the previous four seasons with the Rapids organization. After two seasons with the Rapids reserves, Harvey made his pro debut with Colorado and played in 45 games with 42 starts. He was acquired in the 2010 expansion draft by Philadelphia.

*The Union made three substitutions on the night. Justin Mapp replaced Moreno in the 58th minute, Roger Torres spelled Coudet in the 63rd and Jack McInerney got Fred in the 87th minute.

*Moreno started at forward next to Mwanga with Le Toux moving back to midfield.

*Colorado was the only MLS side the Union had yet to play in their inaugural season,

*Rapids U.S. international Conor Casey, who missed two team's previous two matches with a head injury suffered against Seattle on July 25, returned to the lineup as a substitution in the 61st minute. MF Colin Clark, however, is done for the year after suffering a torn ACL against Kansas City.

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