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Match report: Union 2-2 FC Dallas

Photo: Kate Goughary

If you are looking for a Freddy Adu report, you have come to the wrong place.

Freddy Adu started, the fans were loud and rain held off, but that didn’t make the play any prettier.

The Philadelphia Union tied FC Dallas 2-2 in front of a sold out crowd at PPL Park on Saturday Night.

Adu’s debut lasted sixty minutes and, vacillating between striker and outside midfielder, his performance was a fair measure of the team as a whole. Adu was working out the kinks as the Union struggled with the five-man midfield and relentless pressure of a strong western conference opponent.

Early chances

Early in the match, the Union were on the front foot. Adu slotted a weighted ball in for Le Toux, but the French striker was inches behind the connection.

Philadelphia continued the pressure and earned three consecutive corner kicks around the eighth minute. Off the first, Veljko Paunovic flicked the ball at the near post, only for Kevin Hartman to push wide.

The Union’s offense was in full rotation as Adu, McInerney, Paunovic and Le Toux took turns up top. The personnel is of little consequence when none of their feet work properly, and that was too often the case in the early going.

Ugly opener

Disjointed though the Union were, Dallas offered little in return. Unfortunately, Carlos Valdes handed them something. In the 16th, the normally reliable defender misplayed a clearance inside the semi-circle. With Mondragon off his line, Maicon Santos had the simple task of popping the ball over the helpless keeper and wheeling off to celebrate.

Buoyed by this stroke of good fortune, Dallas began to look for the in-form Brek Shea on the left. He responded with a strong showing, driving at Sheanon Williams and dropping well-timed crosses into the box. In the 19th, Shea nearly found Marvin Chavez streaking in behind Gabriel Farfan.

One consequence of the Union’s rotational offensive system is that it can leave Valdes and Danny Califf with few options in the back. Watching Valdes in particular struggle to find open midfielders was a constant theme of the night. The packed center of the pitch meant Dallas could mark Brian Carroll out of the short pass, forcing the backs to look long and make the short Union strike force challenge the Dallas back line in the air. The results of that matchup can be easily imagined.

George John shows his true colors: Yellow

Things started to get ugly in the 24th minute. After Dallas played on with their own man down, Sebastien Le Toux chased the restart, angering The Hulk George John. The Dallas defender pulled up short and threw up an elbow that knocked Le Toux to the ground. Referee Geoff Gamble had no choice but to show John a yellow card.

On the ensuing free kick, Le Toux’s curler was beat out by a diving Kevin Hartman.

In the 23rd, Freddy Adu earned his first MLS yellow card in over two years, lunging after a ball near the touchline and receiving an unnecessary caution from Gamble.

Clear penalty

Dallas seemed to be in control. They held all the possession until the 33rd, when strong play by Justin Mapp allowed McInerney to play him through up the right sideline. Mapp drove at goal and was taken down in the box by Ugo Ihemelu. Sebastien Le Toux converted the penalty kick for his second goal of the season.

On the other end, Maicon Santos was having his way with Carlos Valdes. He turned the defender in the 35th but had his low cross cut out.

The left side of the pitch was abandoned for most of the first half, but in the 42nd, Freddy Adu got two crosses into the box. The second was deflected out to Gabriel Farfan, who drove a low ball into the six where it was cleared just in front of Paunovic’s stretching toes.

Dallas responds

As extra time ran down, Dallas struck with a fine passing move finished off by Brek Shea. Shea played Maicon Santos in the center. He turned and slotted Marvin Chavez in on goal. Faryd Mondragon deflected the shot off the post but Shea followed up the play and lifted his shot over a diving Sheanon Williams.

Mwanga on for Adu

Freddy Adu made way for Danny Mwanga in the 60th minute. Mwanga pushed high with Le Toux and Jack McInerney took up the right wing. Although connections were still rare, the Union produced more effective defensive pressure in this set and kept Dallas from initiating their quick counterattack.

In the 64th minute, Le Toux tracked down a poor clearnce from Ihemelu. He turned a cross into the box where Mwanga was called for shoving George John. Mwanga was stunned by the call.

Le Toux’s set pieces were consistently inconsistent. The corners were short while the free kicks were long. In the 67th, Le Toux went back post for McInerney, only to have the striker head down instead of back across.

Roger Torres replaced McInerney and almost immediately was over a free kick in the center of the pitch. He hit a hard spinner near post that skimmed the woodwork wide.

In the 82nd minute, former Union midfielder Andrew Jacobson replaced Marvin Chavez.

Farfan earns the equalizer

There was nothing Jacobson could do to prevent the equalizer. Substitute Jackson Goncalves attempted a ridiculous backheel on a bouncing ball. Gabriel Farfan ran onto the loose ball and drove at the box. He waited for contact and got it. Gamble pointed to the spot and Le Toux went low and left for a second time to tie the match at two.

The Union spent the final minutes looking for a winner. Roger Torres played Mwanga in with a high bouncer. The striker gathered himself and fired directly at Kevin Hartman, nearly knocking out the Dallas goalie.

Off the ensuing corner kick, Keon Daniel’s deflected header was slapped out of the goal mouth by Hartman.

Finally, Daniel lofted an early cross just ahead of the onrushing Mwanga as the final whistle sounded.

More points dropped at home, but surviving a rough first half against an in-form side is nothing to be down about. The Union now travel to Columbus to face the Eastern Conference leaders next Saturday.



  1. explain the rationale to playing Jack Mac upfront alone with his back to the midfield and then in the second half on outside mid……

    And then can someone explain Paun playing upfront in the second half… OH and mapp even starting…sigh

  2. Horrible game. If this game happened in the third world people would be asking questions about game fixing. Two goals by the Union scored on two penalties! 🙂 Dallas was clearly the better team.

    As always the Union lacked the ability to possess the ball and control the game.

    Mondragon was horrible.

    He needs to stop booting the ball up the field because 15 seconds later it comes back on him and if he’s playing a good team like Dallas that ball ends up in the back of his net.

    Second, Mondragon needs to stay in the box! He keeps making the mistake of going out too far. Stop it! Its costing the team points.

    Two mistakes our veteran goal keeper keeps making. Two goals, too many.

    On the first goal, Valdez fell a sleep a bit, and the ball ended up over Mondragon’s head and in the net. Stay on the line! (I don’t mean always but his choises of when to go out are terrible).

    On the second goal, Mondragon booted the ball up the field. It came back to him in less than a minute and ended up in the back of his net.

    Can we finally and honestly say that Mondragon is over rated? The fans and the team was so shell shocked with having Seitz as the keeper that just about any replacement seemed like a genious. That, I think, is the problem. Our expectations were too low. Mondragon is a brillian keeper but only compared with Seitz.

    Good game from Adu. He showed great potential. Appears to be adding width to the team. Much needed width. Because, they can’t maintain possession, can’t create good scoring opportunities, and can’t finish the scoring opportunities that they actually create.

    Nowak needs to start taking responsibilities for the teams poor performance. He needs to pick a line up and stick with it. Its causing more problems than Nowak wants to admit.

    • Thanks for this post, because it says EVERYTHING I wanted to.

      I look forward to blasting Nowak and this teams lineup choices this whole week, though.

  3. Freddy isn’t game fit yet. He had only a few touches, but seemed to make things happen when he got the chance. His timing is off with the other players and zigged when others zagged a couple times. A solid debut with more to come.

    I need someone to tell me a good, real actual reason that Keon Daniel doesn’t start. The man got on the field and moved the ball. And if it wasn’t for Kevin Hartman making the friggin save of the year, he would have buried the winner. Frustrating…

    I actually thought Mapp was okay tonight. Didn’t seem as ponderous on the ball and was involved in play.

    • Mapp plays zero defense. There is no argument he is better than Daniel or Michael Farfan. I’m getting so tired of Nowak. He brings in great players but his lineups are simply costing us points. Why is it so hard to keep it simple and keep two of our normal strikers up top (Mwanga, Le Toux, Mwanga) with a midfield of Caroll, Daniel, Farfan/Paunovic, and then Adu/Torres up top. Assuming that Adu can at least play the Torres role, it is obvious that every time this lineup is in, we play dramatically better. And every fan sees it, regardless of which strikers they prefer.

      • Second Mwanga was supposed to be Jack Mac haha. Perhaps my no-Mwanga frustration is boiling over.

      • Having praised Mapp (slightly), I agree that he should be behind Daniel on the depth chart. He is still living off that Toronto game…

  4. Santas Grotto says:

    Why has no one mentioned the fact that Garfan is not an acceptable left back. Constantly beaten, poor positioning and no concept of spacing at the back. Califf has to always cover his mistakes and is found coaching him on the field. We had a solid and defensive minded lb who rarely got beaten and mde Califf better. Rumors that the U were looking at Grosso tells you that they see the same problem.

    • No one mentions it because everyone accepts it as a given. The issue isn’t whether he’s a good left back now but whether he’ll develop into one. That’s the gamble Nowak is taking. Good attacking left backs are hard to find, so he’s trying to turn a good attacker into a passable defender. I too think Garfan (and Marfan) is miscast there. But Nowak now has an abundance of good midfielders, and he’s trying to find ways to get more on the field.

      • Garfan is still extremely valuable going forward. He reminds me a lot of an MLS version of Marcelo. Marcelo used to be atrocious defensively but got forward really well since he was more of a wing. Over time, he has improved his defense a lot. Hopefully Garfan can do the same. If we got a new LB, I would still prefer either Farfan on the wing to Mapp for their ability to get forward but also willingness to defend.

  5. I see where you’re coming from about Mondragon. Does he make the acrobatic saves? No. Does he have to? No. He’s clearly not the best shot stopper anymore but he makes up for it with his leadership and organization of the backline. I aLways worry when he’s one on one because he just can’t cover the corners like some other guys can.

    Nowaks lineups are weird but its from his own doing since we have a ton of tweeners but no real certainties. Those of you who have followed MLS and euro leagues for a while will know there’s different aspects of MLS that make it unique mainly the conditions the games are played in. You need to rest players regularly here…maybe moreso then in europe due to the hot conditions of playing over the summer. With that said…it is the stretch run and Nowak better start finding his playoff lineup. I can tell you oner thing. Its going to include Mapp, Daniel, and Paunovic. We need to figure out how to get them all on the field and get Le Toux scoring from the run of play again.

    As for Adu…he looked good. Not great but good. His bodys still in preseason but that’s good for us because come playoff time he’ll be rested…as will most of our team. He just needs to get the chemistry worked out and it’ll be all good!

  6. I haven’t read anything in the write-ups regarding Paunivic’s goal that was whistled offsides WAY late. I take it that means it was a correct call, but from where I was sitting, right in line with the edge of the penalty box on the river end, he seemed to have come back onsides and running neck and neck with the last defender. What did everyone else see?

  7. I think the thing that is getting to me most is the constant tinkering with the lineup. How are these guys supposed to form a real relationship when we never have the same team twice. Staggeringly Mapp actually started on the left last night….not a bad idea considering just how left footed he is. We lack bite in the midfield but I thought against a strong team that we gave a one goal start to we did ok. Its a bit tough to blame Mondragon in any way for the first goal but he does scare me with his positioning sometimes. The leadership I like though. Note to defenders (Valdez) rule 101 play the ball in the direction you are heading! Sometimes we try to be too clever. Thought the River End did a good job last night. “We want Seitz” was a classic.

  8. “We want Seitz”???

    • @IL It was a sarcastic comment when the Dallas keeper was injured. The point being with Seitz in goal we had a better chance of winning. Sarcasm is an important part of soccer chants!!!

  9. Rumors are LA wants to get rid of Juan Pablo and he only wants to go to Philly…

    I am not sure … he may still be good but he is old and I would much rather just have Jack Mac – Mwanga start and grow together.

  10. Another goal given up on a throw-in. The Union defends throw-ins like a junior HS team; quite sad.

  11. You know, between Rooney, Ronaldo and Messi, I think there was one goal in the World Cup. Why? Because they were on teams with guys they dont usually play with. How can we expect our strikers to gel together if it changes every game. At the end of last year, it was obvious that Le Toux and Mwange belonged together up top as starters. Then we brought in fat chooch, the Paunivich (or whatvere it is. Enoug is enough, Mawnga and Le TOux start NOW.

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