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Philadelphia Union 1 – 1 Real Salt Lake

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The Union battled to a hard-fought 1-1 draw with a less than full strength Real Salt Lake squad in front of a good crowd at PPL Park on Wednesday night.  Danny Mwanga returned from injury to score on a terrific pass from Sebastien Le Toux on 8 minutes.

But in what is becoming a trend for Philadelphia, the lead was gone in less than 10 minutes when Juan Diego Gonzalez failed to deal with a ball into the box and it fell to Fabian Espindola who slotted past Chris Seitz at the near post.  It was unfortunate as the Union definitely had the better of the play through the first 20 minutes of the game, and it seemed like conceding really took the wind out of their sails.

The Union goal was a thing of beauty as Le Toux flicked on a long throw in with the outside of his boot to Mwanga who had timed his run perfectly.  Mwanga made no mistake and easily rolled the ball past the onrushing Kyle Reynish.  Philadelphia probably should have had the lead at the half when Le Toux was played in over the top, but could not get his shot over Reynish.

The 2nd half had chances for both teams, with the best of thsoe probably falling to Salt Lake.  Jean Alexandre drove a free kick from about 30 yards that Chris Seitz was able to palm away as it dipped toward the bottom corner.  The Union pressed for a winner, bringing on Roger Torres, Amobi Okugo, and Andrew Jacobson.  But it was not to be and the teams split the points.

Salt Lake had a number of their usual starters on the bench to start the game. Usual starters Robbie Findley and Will Johnson were second half subs.  Reynish made his first career start. And the injured Kyle Beckerman did not feature it all.

Welcome Back Danny

Great to have Mwanga back and playing a full 90 minutes.  Scored a great goal, and was involved throughout.  He was physical and ran at defenders all night.  Let’s hope he can stay healthy because he is clearly a much better option that Moreno right now.

I love you Eduardo Coudet

He has found a great role dropping in deep and progressing the ball up the field.  Has great vision and rarely gets caught in possession.  Is clearly developing chemistry with Le Toux after a few games, as the two seemed to be on the same page all night.  You have to think he would be even better if he didn’t have Fred standing 8 yards away from him all the time sucking up space.

Where do we find these referees?

I have seen some poorly officiated games this season in MLS (and come to think of it, every season) but that was horrendous last night.  From the 2 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half (Chris Wingert rolled around after being elbowed for at least 4 minutes shortly before the half) to Fred’s yellow card a minute into the game, the ref didn’t seem to have a grasp on the game all night.  It was a chippy affair with 5 yellow cards issued.  But he failed to see a few hard fouls on Union players (particularly Mwanga getting hauled down from behind in the 2nd half) and I have to assume a lot of the boos at the end of the game were for him.

Player Ratings

GK Chris Seitz: 7

Not a bad outing from the much maligned Seitz.  Did get beat on his near post for the RSL goal, but was (again) left out to dry by some shotty defending.  Made a great save on a long free kick in the 2nd half that probably salvaged a point.

CB Danny Califf: 5

At some point, we need a clean sheet, right? Espindola rounded him pretty easily to score the goal.

CB Juan Diego Gonzalez: 6

What would have been another very solid outing for the newest Union player was marred by making the mistake that led to the RSL goal.  Failed to deal with a cross and the ball fell directly into the path of Espindola.

RB Michael Orozco Fiscal: 6

No major gaffes from the right back but fails to really get forward much and offers very little in the way of service.

LB Jordan Harvey: 6

A similar game to Orozco Fiscal.  Did venture more a little more frequently but there is little to say about his contributions.

CM Eduardo Coudet: 8

Cool and confident on the ball.  Has found a great role in picking up the ball from the back and moving it forward.  Has great chemistry with the industrious Le Toux and found him running in space time and time again.

CM Kyle Nakazawa: 6

Had a good scoring chance on a nice pass from Mwanga but flubbed the shot straight at the keeper. I don’t see the point of having him on the field if he is not taking the corners.

LM Fred: 5

Another ineffective game for the Brazilian.  Is clearly not a wide midfielder, as he stood in Coudet’s space all night.  Was subbed out for Jacobson after the 80th minute.

RM Justin Mapp:6

I would like to see a little more of Mapp as he was removed after only 57 minutes.  Seems to still be getting into the flow with his new team but shows flashes of brilliance.

F Sebastien Le Toux: 8

Ran all night.  Has to be the hardest working man in MLS.  Great flick to Mwanga to put him through on goal.  Did fail to finish when he was in with just the keeper to beat.  Maybe it was too easy for him.

F Danny Mwanga: 7

Welcome back Danny, we’ve missed you.  Great finish on his goal, wrongfooting the goalkeeper and finishing coolly. Had a chance to make it two and probably should have, but ran all night and is definitely a better partner for Le Toux than Moreno.

Subs

Roger Torres: 6

First time we’ve seen Torres in a few games.  Came on for Mapp which really didn’t help the Union maintain any width.

Amobi Okugo: 8

Probably some of the best stuff we’ve seen from the youngster. Came on and made some driving runs, shot from distance and was a force physically.

Andrew Jacobson: 6

Came on late for Fred and failed to really make an impact.  Wouldn’t be surprised to see him start for Fred sometime soon and before Salinas is healthy.

(Photo: Paul Rudderow. For more photos from the game, click here.)

8 Comments

  1. Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

    Too lenient on Califf, got skinned on the goal, and was a traffic cone on a number of other plays. Combine that with some stupid, bad fouls and it was another stinker. As the captain, he HAS to do better.

    Nakazawa is a liability everywhere he goes. He just looks too slow for the game. Conversely, every match he’s played, Okugo has gotten stronger. He looked great last night and should earn a start this weekend in Miglioranzi’s holding roll.

    Mwanga and Le Toux are a joy to watch, though Mwanga looked to either tire, or get sore following a number of rough tackles. Playing a full 90 in your first match back from injury is a hard ask for anyone. Another poor coaching decision by Novak.

    Can we give Novak a rating for each match? I’d give him a 2 for this one. Le Toux still taking corners. Continuing to bring on defensive players when we need goals. Substituting the wrong guys. The UNION have more than they’re showing and in my opinion, Novak is doing more harm than good.

    • I was unhappy to see Fred start and Mapp go early- but I don’t agree that we needed goals more than we needed to avoid conceeding a goal in that second half. Union Jack and Moreno were the only offensive options not used, and you could argue that they would just get in the way of two strikers who were playing excellent football.

      The corners are frustrating. Le Toux gets one in four corners over the first defender. Also he is a finisher who would be nice to have in the box when the ball is going to arrive there.

      But regarding Nowak’s job overall- He brought in Coudet, Gonzalez and Mapp over the last two or three weeks. Each of these players are a great addition. I think these moves were much more important than the mistakes during the game.

  2. Shoddy defending. Okugo’s tackling was nice, I think he took the ball from them three times- and then distributed. Can he start over Nak- who is trying but doesn’t seem quiet up to this level yet?

  3. Ed Farnsworth says:

    I thought Dan was being optimistic with his 1-1 prediction, which just goes to show how much I know. Doing the roundup this morning it was interesting to see how the headlines differed depending on the source. Some saw the game as the Union losing points, others as RSL earning a point, others still as the Union fighting hard for their point. I was a bit bummed out after the game that the Union didn’t win, but they did draw with last year’s champion, a team that destroyed the Union at home a few months ago. Hopefully this is something the Union can build on for Saturday.
    P.S. Coudet is the man.

  4. I’ve been harping on Le Toux and the corners for weeks. I don’t know why he’s still taking them, but the Union are wasting at least two-thirds of them.

    On the flip side, Le Toux made great runs all night and played an otherwise great game, and Coudet just kept finding him.

    I think Fred takes a seat when Salinas returns, and I know I’d like to see Jacboson get some more time.

  5. Ok I can listen to a lot of opinions, but Eli your comments on Nowak are about as effective as Jack Stiller’s. Nowak created this team. Their style of play, fitness level and attacking play are all the reasons we love this team and are all a distinctive feature of Nowak and Nowak teams. Torres and even Jacobson these days have shown they are good options for attacking. Torres with his dribbling and crossing and Jacobson with his cannon foot, which by the way he is going to get a goal at some point from 30 yards out and it is going to be the best goal in Union history. Okugo helped to preserve possession. We all remember the San Jose game and so does Nowak so expecting us to go all out attack with every sub against the MLS cup champions who we were currently tied with is crazy. I agree with you about Nak, Le Toux brushed him off of free kicks and corners early on and if he is not taking them then Jacobson should be on instead, although Nak should be taking them. With double digit corner kicks for the Union last night and something like 5 free kicks with in 30 yards we should have had at least one goal. Le Toux is god but someone needs to tell him he is better in the box then at the free kicks. Unless it is directly in front of the goal like that free kick he had 3 inches above the post last night.

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