An inspired defensive display from Kansas City sees the spoils shared at PPL Park.CHESTER, Pa. -- Major League Soccer's newest team picked up yet another draw as Sebastien Le Toux's fist half finish was canceled out by a 71st minute Davy Arnaud free kick. An excellent defensive display by Jimmys Nielsen and Conrad ensured that the Union wouldn't get more than their single goal. A hefty 17,183 witnessed the draw at PPL Park in Chester.
Both teams are known proponents of a high-pressure defense, but it took a while for this game to get into gear. After several minutes of uneventful midfield action, it was the visitors who took the initiative and launched the first real attacks. Winger Ryan Smith showed Juan Diego Gonzalez his heels and darted into the box, but was undone by a lack of support.
That was the problem for most of Kansas City's attacks. Some excellent forward runs from captain Davy Arnaud came to naught as he found himself alone against the composed Union defense.
Just as stern in the opening, however, was Kansas City's resolve. It wasn't until the 10th minute that the Union managed to string together a real attack. Zipping up the left, rookie Amobi Okugo played a quick one-two with Justin Mapp and then whipped a dangerous cross through the Kansas City penalty area, but Sebastien Le Toux was just a step behind the pass.
Frustrated into mistakes by the effectiveness of the Kansas city midfield, the Union resorted to long shots to try and force some verve into their game. Danny Mwanga's shot in the 17th went over comfortably enough not to trouble Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, but Andrew Jacobson's several minutes later must have. Ripping one from 25 yards out, his shot beat Nielsen but cannoned back off the post.
The distance tactics seemed to work. Less than a minute after Jacobson rattled the woodwork, a flick from Danny Mwanga found Sebastien Le Toux at the top of the box, whose placed shot was only just tipped around the post by Nielsen. The Dane was excellent all half.
The pressure paid off in the 33rd as Philadelphia took first blood. Coming in from the left flank, Danny Mwanga picked up the end of a Justin Mapp cross to send a cutting ball into the Kansas City Area. It was met by the foot of the onrushing Le Toux, who finished coolly for his 10th of the season.
The pair of Mwanga and Le Toux nearly combined for a second in the dying minutes of the half, but were denied by Kansas City defender Jimmy Conrad.
Unhappy with the midfield lethargy shown by his team in the first half, Union manager Peter Nowak inserted young Colombian playmaker Roger Torres into the match at halftime, with the largely ineffective Jacobson making way.
The second half certainly began much more enthusiastically than the first. Mwanga and Mapp looked certain to score when breaking on a two-on-one, but a fantastic, stretching save blocked Mapp's shot. Minutes later, the keeper known as "White Puma" again denied a powerful shot from Mwanga. A diving save stopped a powerful Le Toux free kick in the 65th.
Nielsen wasn’t the only Wizard having an impact, though. In the 71st, what had seemed like a routine free kick turned into a nightmare for the Union when Davy Arnaud caught Chris Seitz unawares and curled the set piece past the outstretched Philadelphia keeper and into the far corner of the net to equalize.
Determined to regain their lead, Union manager Peter Nowak inserted strikers Jack McInerney and Alejandro Moreno into the game. It was the Wizards, however, who had the momentum in the late stages of the game. Michael Harrington was impressive coming out of defense, and the increased space in the Union’s half allowed Ryan Smith to create havoc. The Union defense managed to hold off the visitors, however, to pick up their sixth draw of the season.
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