Philadelphia battled the energetic Dynamo to a draw.CHESTER, Pa. -- Fielding a youth-laden starting XI and playing their third game in seven days, the Philadelphia Union battled the visiting Houston Dynamo to a 1-1 draw today in front of 16,115 fans at PPL Park.
The match had the feel of an exhibition, albeit a spirited one. Houston were already eliminated from the playoffs. The Union—with perhaps an eye on next season—sat many of their more experienced players, as captain Danny Califf, Stefani Miglioranzi, and Fred were all left out of the lineup.
Houston struck first in the 12th. Brian Ching had a header deflected behind the Union goal, earning the Dynamo a corner. Brad Davis sent it in, regained possession, and sent in a blazing shot from the right side. Philly keeper Brad Knighton could not contain the save, and Andrew Hainault slammed the rebound through to put Houston up 1-0.
Nick Zimmerman—in his first-ever Union start—had an opportunity to equalize in the 20th. The forward executed a give-and-go with Alejando Moreno down the left wing. Zimmerman got the ball back at the edge of the box with space, but his shot went way off target.
Ching had a chance for some revenge on the River End in the 25th. With a clear shot at goal in front of the Union supporters section—which had chanted “U.S. reject” at Ching before the game—the Hawaiian could only manage an attempt way off frame.
Michael Orozco Fiscal showed some impressive defensive mettle in the 35th minute. With Houston striker Dominic Oduro on a free run at goal, Orozco Fiscal stood his ground and dispossessed the Ghana native just outside the six.
Sebastien Le Toux leveled in the 40th minute. Roger Torres’ cross found the Frenchman directly in front of the Houston goal. Le Toux got in front of defender Ryan Cochrane, leaving Houston keeper Pat Onstad defenseless. The forward cleanly put it past the veteran Dynamo keeper. It was Le Toux's 13th goal of the season.
Brad Davis continued to impress in the second half. In the 57th minute, the midfielder blew by both Sheanon Williams and Michael Orozco Fiscal and got a shot off from the left side. The Union back line however rallied back, and managed to deflect the attempt.
Perhaps still frustrated, Davis shoved Alejandro Moreno to the turf a minute later, drawing a yellow card for his trouble.
Rookie of the year candidate Danny Mwanga earned a huge ovation from the home crowd after being subbed in for Zimmerman in the 59th. The 2010 first-overall draft pick had been bothered by shoulder trouble and did not make the trip to Colorado for the Union’s midweek match with the Rapids.
Oduro had another run at Orozco Fiscal in the 66th, but his shot from the right wing went just wide of the left post.
In the 78th minute, Sheanon Williams sent a quality cross right to center, but Mwanga and Moreno converged on it at the same time. The two collided and the ball dribbled harmlessly over the line.
The Union clearly signaled they were going for the win in the 84th, as defender Jordan Harvey was subbed out for forward Jack McInerney.
But neither side could break through again, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
Want some wholesome super-groovy fun? Follow Goal.com contributor Ramin Majd on Twitter @rmajd
For more on Major League Soccer, visit Goal.com's MLS page and join Goal.com USA's Facebook fan page!