The Philadelphia Union hosted Chivas USA at PPL Park on Saturday night, just three days after a scoreless draw against Sporting Kansas City on the same pitch moved them into a tie with the New York Red Bulls for first place.
The first half of action was fast paced as the Union, in their new 4-1-3-2 formation, pressed the action and forced the pace of play. Despite four corner-kicks and three shots on goal, Philadelphia was unable to score in the first half. They entered the locker room at half time trailing 1-0 after Michael Umana flipped a header past Union GK Faryd Mondragon (off a Chivas corner) to notch the lone goal in the first.
The second half proved to be much more dramatic. Tension spilled over from a first half that saw long “injury” delays from Chivas and off-sides calls that had the crowd at PPL Park chanting less than favorable comments at the linesman and referee.
In the 48th minute,Veljko Paunovic harnessed the tension, took the ball down field and fired home his first MLS goal to tie the game at 1-1. The goal broke a streak of 294 minutes without a goal for Philadelphia, broke it wide open. The Philadelphia fans went crazy with the goal, and the gasps would continue from there. Shots by both teams rattled off the cross bars before Carlos Ruiz finally broke the tie with a goal in the 69th minute (his 4th of the season) off of a beautiful pass from Paunovic.
Just eight minutes later, Justin Braun beat Mondragon to knot the game at 2-2.
Entering the game as a sub, Danny Mwanga (who had missed the previous game with an injury) took a pass from Sebastian Le Toux, squared up, and scored Philadelphia’s third goal of the half. The Sons of Ben, and the rest of the 18,000+ fans on hand, went completely bonkers! It would prove to be the game winner as Philadelphia took the match 3-2 to earn three points. The Union now sit alone in first place in the East.
“I thought the game was pretty similar for both halves,” said Chivas coach Robin Fraser. “After we scored the first goal, we played too tight. As a result, we put ourselves under a tremendous amount of pressure. In the second half, we played a little bit better, but we made too many mistakes.”
The Union will look to capitalize of their second half scoring frenzy this Saturday when they travel to our nation’s capital to take on the DC United at RFK Stadium (7pm). It is the first of three consecutive road games for Philadelphia before returning home to play friendly matches against Everton at PPL Park on July 20th and Real Madrid at Lincoln Financial Field on July 23rd. Their next MLS home game takes place on July 29th when they host Colorado.
[photo credit: Christian Hafer, story by Christian Hafer & Jacob Miller]
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