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Postgame: Union 1-1 Dallas

Whoa, Danny Mwanga. Talk about a way to finally stamp your name on a game.

Mwanga drilled home a game-tying goal in injury time to give Philadelphia Union a 1-1 draw Saturday against FC Dallas and keep the Union unbeaten at home. The play closed an evenly played match with an emphatic burst of euphoria as the 25,038 fans at Lincoln Financial Field went absolutely nuts at the salvaging of a game the Union played well enough to win.

Only a spectacular performance from Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman kept the Union off the board earlier than that, as Hartman made save after save. He stopped Roger Torres’ header at point blank range, knocked out Alejandro Moreno’s shot from in the box, and threw off Sebastien Le Toux’s one-on-one breakaway with a well-timed approach on the striker.

For Dallas, it was a lucky bounce that netted them their one goal, as Brek Shea unleashed a shot that was heading wide right but was deflected by Union defender Danny Califf into the upper corner of the net. The Union outshot Dallas 12-10, put seven shots on goal to Dallas’ 4, and won 10 corner kicks to just one for Dallas.

Here are some other things that stood out in the game.

  • Great play from the goalkeepers.

So that’s what a great goalie can do for you, huh? Hartman single-handedly kept Dallas in the game with one great play after another. If the Union had goalkeeping like that all season (and remember, Hartman was available for a song and a dance), they’d have three or four wins so far.

That said, this may have been Chris Seitz’s best game of the season. Seitz had a few good saves and not a single notable mistake. He even had the presence of mind to come outside the box on a near-breakaway and ably clear a ball with his head. It’s hard to blame the Dallas goal on him. Nicely done.

  • Another defensive blunder, but Dallas couldn’t capitalize.

The Union back four have made about one killer mistake per game that led to a goal, and they would have done it again today if Dallas forward Jeff Cunningham could finish. Califf’s swing and a miss on a clearance left Cunningham one-on-one with Seitz, but Seitz attacked Cunningham, whose shot went over the bar. Lucky.

  • Sebastien Le Toux’s return changed the team.

Le Toux brings something to the field that his replacements don’t. He’s this solid but unspectacular player out there who just hustles and thinks on his feet, finding ways to keep pressure on opponents. Yes, he missed the one-on-one against Hartman, but you have to credit Hartman for cutting down the angle perfectly and giving Le Toux very little space with which to work. Overall, the punchless Union of the last two games suddenly were peppering Hartman like it was goalkeeping practice. It wasn’t all Le Toux, but his activity frees everybody else up for better shots.

  • Did Shea Salinas piss in somebody’s corn flakes or something?

Seriously, what does this guy have to do to get a regular starting gig here? He comes out every game and plays well, whether starting or not. His second half blast on goal missed just wide right, and he had a hop in his step throughout the game (though he did have a bad giveaway that killed one Union opportunity). Sure, Kyle Nakazawa looks really good on free kicks, and we know about Torres’ potential. But Salinas deserves to start.

  • Playing the long ball.

The Union defenders have a tendency to send long balls deep and hope their forwards can win them in the air and then push the attack. Today, that seemed like the default strategy. With ballhandlers like Fred and Torres, it’d be nice to see some more short passes that stay on the ground. Sometimes it seemed like the Union midfield was watching a volleyball match as long ball after long ball just skipped over their heads downfield.

  • Danny Mwanga comes out of the shadows

Talk about answering the call. Rookies Jack McInerney and Kyle Nakazawa were making people ask what was up with Mwanga, the No. 1 overall pick in the Major League Soccer amateur draft. He looked shiftless in his few appearances, which for some reason were at midfield instead of his typical striker position. Well, so much for being overshadowed. As good a game as Hartman was having, there was nothing he could do about Mwanga’s blistering game-tying goal that sent the stadium into a tizzy. Mwanga just built up a lot of good will with Union fans.

Player Ratings

Chris Seitz: 7

Seitz made all the plays today, looking steady throughout and never really scaring the fans like he has so often this season.

Jordan Harvey: 6

Harvey was solid on defense, but he has a habit of hesitating on offense and unnecessarily slowing the attack. Still, we’ll take conservative from the back line if it means he’s not making any mistakes.

Michael Orozco: 6

One that stands out about Orozco is how confident and steady a ball-handler he is for a center back. He didn’t make any mistakes, and that’s what matters from center backs.

Danny Califf: 4

What an up and down game. He nearly gifted Dallas a goal with his swing and miss, but he may have saved another with a timely deflection. He missed a point blank header on goal, and it was his foot that Shea’s shot ricocheted off into the goal.

Cristian Arrieta: 5

Decent but unspectacular. He didn’t factor into the attack nearly as much as he has in past games.

Roger Torres: 6

Hartman’s great save denied him a goal. Solid ball-handling, but he has yet to adjust to how much more physical MLS is than the Colombian league.

Kyle Nakazawa: 5

Was hit or miss on free kicks, but it’s clear he is the Union’s most dangerous option there. Had an OK game in place of Andrew Jacobson from what I could tell, but he seemed invisible for much of it.

Stefani Miglioranzi: 6

Solid and silent as usual in his defensive midfield role.

Fred: 5

Was Fred even there? The longball game really marginalized Fred, who factored into very little of the match. It’s becoming clear why he frustrated D.C. fans so much during his time there. He does these spectacular tricks with the ball, but sometimes, when you’re at the 18, you just need to put the damn thing on goal.

Sebastien Le Toux: 6

Very active, had some opportunities, couldn’t capitalize. Still, Le Toux was missed, and the Union are a different team with him.

Alejandro Moreno: 6

Another hard-working game for Moreno, who still hasn’t scored yet but was close on two occasions. One header went over the bar, and Hartman stopped another shot. Did a good job controlling the defense’s long balls.


Shea Salinas: 6

The one true winger. The only one. Start him.

Jack McInerney: 4

Union Jack came into the game and then found a little hidey hole to hide in. You almost didn’t notice he was on the field.

Danny Mwanga: 8

Beautiful, beautiful goal.

(Photo: Philadelphia Union)


  1. Ed Farnsworth says:

    I’ve got to disagree about Arrieta and Torres. I thought Arrieta looked very shaky in the first half, particularly when trying ti handle Shea, although I do think that he settled down in the second half.

    Torres almost scored a goal that was a mirror image of the one that Moreno (hope I am remembering this correctly) scored against us in the season opener. I do think he provides some solid delivery into the box. But he gives the ball away so cheaply sometimes. I’m not thinking of his obvious adjustment problems to the physicality of the MLS. I’m thinking of repeated runs that, thrilling though they might be, end up with him losing the ball to simple tackles, that sort of two or three steps too far kind of thing.
    Torres ‘physicality adjustment question brings to mind something else. From the midfield up, the Union are not the greatest when it comes to height or wight. Which makes me think of two things: all of the pre-season talk from the team about how physical they would be (stupid self-actualizing fouls from the backline aside)was just a diversion; second, why is Le Toux, next to Califf probably the tallest Union starter, taking corners? Shouldn’t he be a target?
    All of this said, what a way to steal a draw. Fortress Philly!

  2. Mike Servedio says:

    I have to agree with Ed. Sitting next to him during the game yesterday, he will tell you how frustrated I was with Torres in the 2nd half. An unbelievable amount of easy turnovers. I was calling for him to come off 15 minutes before they actually did sub him. I’d say that Salinas has earned a chance to start and I’d love for him to take Torres spot in the midfield. Fred and Torres both passed up a number of decent shooting opportunities for cheeky chips and unexpected through balls. Where as Salinas looks willing to have a go when it is there and has put in some decent efforts.

    Le Toux should clearly not be taking corners. He is one of the best headers of the ball on the field for Philly. And all of his corners hit the first defender anyway.

  3. re: Torres — I do think Salinas should replace him, but he did nearly score. Maybe I should’ve given him a 5, but close enough.

    re: Arrieta — You could blame him for the goal, but Shea also got a lucky deflection. (I’m finding you can’t tell there was a deflection on most video highlights, but we had perfect seats to see it very clearly.)

  4. we were seated 2 rows back from where the union players were getting warm and from the halftime whistle until he entered the match Salinas was absolutely buzzing. He didnt take part in the little kick around, preferring to run sprints with the ball and then spent the second half working himself into a frenzy, going as hard as if he was on the field. He looked possessed and I was fairly certain he was going to come out and score straight away, or that his head might explode.

    either way, let him play. torres was absolutely awful. constantly dribbling into 1 on 2s, 3s and 4s, he loses the ball cheaply and squanders the hard work that the full backs do to overlap.

    also, I think we need to cut harvey and arrieta a bit of a break. True wing play is not your fullbacks running 100m windsprints all game. Its the interplay of an outside fullback AND a wide midfielder. Without any width to speak of in the midfield, they are both left with WAY too much to do.

  5. Josh Trott says:

    I didn’t see this deflection- it may be that Smirnoff played a role- I’d like to hear about it from someone else. It looked like a step beat Arrieta and then a perfect finish put us down one.

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