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 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.
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.
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.
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.