Saturday, September 04, 2010

Union and Kansas City battle to 1-1 draw

Sebastien Le Toux has 10 goals and 10 assists this season
By John McMullen

Chester, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - I'll leave it for you to decide if a tie is really like kissing your sister. What I can tell you is that it wasn't what a pair of teams on the outside, looking in at the MLS playoff picture were hoping for on the pitch at PPL Park on Saturday afternoon.

But, when the final whistle sounded, that's exactly what Philadelphia and Kansas City got as the Union and Wizards played to a 1-1 draw in front of 17,182 on the Delaware Riverfront.

The expansion Union (5-11-6) remained the only MLS team that has not recorded a defensive shutout this season. In fact, no team in MLS history has gone the entire year 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 have just eight games left to figure out the problem.

After a pedestrian start by both clubs, the Union started pressuring the Wizards (7-9-6) in the 26th minute when Stefani Miglioranzi blasted one from distance off the left post.

A few minutes later All-Star striker Sebastien Le Toux got a good look inside the box but Kansas City netminder Jimmy Nielsen made a diving save to keep things scoreless.

The Union finally broke through in the 33rd minute when Justin Mapp found Danny Mwanga streaking down the left touchline before the Rookie of the Year candidate dribbled into the box and delivered a perfect pass to Le Toux in front of the net. The French striker then easily beat Nielsen for his 10th
goal of the season.

Philadelphia continued to pressure in the second half but Nielsen kept the Wizards in it with spectacular play. He made a terrific save on Mapp's angled attempt in the 53rd minute before recording an even better one in the 69th minute on Mapp's free kick that found the head of Le Toux.

Embattled Philly goalkeeper Chris Seitz finally faltered in the 71st minute when Davy Arnaud lifted a beautiful free kick from the left corner over his head to even things.

“Chris made a huge mistake when we controlled 70 minutes of the game and we were in the position to score a couple more goals,” team manager Peter Nowak said. “It’s disappointing because we still believe he has the ability to make the crucial saves. It was a perfect game to have a shutout because they didn’t have much in the first or second halves. The guys in front of Chris made it very easy for him today. When it comes to crucial moments, he needs to be there for this team.”

Kansas City controlled much of the action from there but the Union managed to hold on and record a point. Philadelphia is now eight points behind San Jose for the eighth and final playoff spot while the Wizards are two back.

“It stings because we had three points,” Seitz said. “To get out with one point is tough. I feel for my teammates."

State of the UNION:

*Union starting midfielders Fred and Eduardo Coudet both missed the game. Fred was out with a strained right groin while Coudet was hampered with a strained right calf. Meanwhile, striker Alejandro Moreno, a normal starter continues to struggle with a balky right hamstring and came in as a substitution late. Andrew Jacobson, Amobi Okugo and Mapp all started at midfield while Le Toux, who was questionable with a right knee contusion, was back at forward.

*Defender Shea Salinas, who has been out for six weeks with a fibula fracture in his left knee was upgraded to questionable but didn't dress.

*Mwanga's assist was his fourth of the year, third on the team behind Le Toux's 10 and Moreno's five. Le Toux is the only player in MLS with double figures in both goals and assists.

*The Union's three substitutions on the night were Roger Torres replacing Jacobson to start the second half, Jack McInerney spelling Miglioranzi in the 74th and Moreno getting Mapp in the 83rd minute.

*Today marked D Shavar Thomas' return to Chester. Selected by the Union in the expansion draft,Thomas appeared in just one match before being traded to his former club, Kansas City, in exchange for allocation money and future draft considerations.

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