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  • June 11, 2011
  • • 4:07 PM
  • • PPL Park, Chester, Pennsylvania
  • Referee: J. Gonzalez
  • • Attendance: 18728
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Philadelphia Union 1-1 Real Salt Lake: RSL fights back to earn a point

Philadelphia Union 1-1 Real Salt Lake: RSL fights back to earn a point

Hunter Martin

Keon Daniel provided the only Union goal, despite a dominant first half, but Fabian Espindola equalized in the second to give each side a share of the points.

CHESTER, Pa. -- In a match pitting two of the top teams in the league, it was a tale of two sides for most of the game. The Philadelphia Union brought on an offensive attack very similar to their win in Toronto. However, they did not net six goals in this game. Meanwhile, Real Salt Lake provided less offensive effort, yet saw one of its few shot attempts hit the back of the net, and allow it to leave Philadelphia with a point in a 1-1 draw.

First Half

After the match’s opening five minutes, Real Salt Lake looked the part of a team that played just four days ago. With a seven minute block of not even getting the ball past midfield, and giving up a bevy of shot attempts, the team looked sluggish and inconsistent throughout. After a tough loss at Columbus on Wednesday, the toll of missing multiple offensive players was beginning to show. Midfielder Jean Alexandre again played forward, with star Javier Morales still out due to a broken ankle.

Quite a few Union players who normally do not get that many scoring opportunities heard their name announced throughout the stadium following a close shot attempt. Players like Sheanon Williams and Carlos Valdez both had opportunities in the first half. One player who heard his name called many a time last year, Sebastian Le Toux, continued his 2011 campaign of coming so close, yet still not striking the back of the net. It does not get any closer than actually scoring a goal, which Le Toux did in the 21st minute, but then had the goal disallowed due to an offside call.

This was the start of arguably the most exciting ten minutes of the year at PPL Park. Aforementioned players such as Le Toux, Williams, and Valdez all had shot attempts, along with Michael Farfan. It seemed it was just a matter of time before one hit the back of the net.

That was exactly what happened, as the 24th minute brought the game’s first goal. Farfan advanced the ball on the right side of the field, and crossed it to a surging Keon Daniel, who ran in front of a Salt Lake defender and headed the ball past keeper Nick Rimando for his first goal of the season.

Rimando remained busy for the following fifteen minutes, as the Union continued their offensive pressure. Even with all of the attempts on goal, the Union could not take advantage of these opportunities. This brought the match into halftime with Philadelphia leading 1-0.

Second Half

Real Salt Lake would have been expected to come out more aggressively in the second half. The expected came to fruition, as the offense looked very similar to the start of the first half. RSL did not have to wait long to have the aggression pay off, as forward Fabian Espindola broke away from Williams, and barely got a low strike past Union keeper Faryd Mondragon in the 53rd minute.

The match became much more even, as both sides traded offensive possessions for the next 20 minutes. During this time, the game saw its first two substitutions, as Real Salt Lake brought on defender Tony Beltran in place of Robbie Russell, who had just received a yellow card. The Union looked for more scoring chances, as midfielder Justin Mapp took the field, replacing defender Jordan Harvey.

Mapp nearly had an immediate impact, as he came close to scoring in the 59th minute. Sebastian Le Toux then saw yet another near goal as his header went right into Nick Rimando’s hands.

Both team’s substitutions displayed the manager’s efforts to break the 1-1 tie, as Real Salt Lake brought on forward Artur Aghasyan in place of Jean Alexandre. The Union brought on both Roger Torres and Jack McInerney. Yet even with these offensive minded moves, neither team had more than one shot on goal. Union forward Danny Mwanga was the closest to scoring the game winning goal, as he saw a header advance over both Nick Rimando’s head and the crossbar.

The draw does bring the Union into a tie with New York atop the Eastern Conference standings with 22 points. Real Salt Lake now has 21 points, and inches closer to the table-topping Los Angeles Galaxy.

The Union will now head west to take on Vancouver, and Real Salt Lake’s east coast trip ends, as it heads home to take on D.C. United.

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