CHESTER, Pa. -- Goals on either side of halftime by Landon Donovan and Danny Mwanga were the only two tallies between the Philadelphia Union and Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday night.
In front of a record crowd of 19,178 at PPL Park in Chester, the Union struggled to keep the Galaxy down as the match was dominated by the visitors for most of the 90 minutes. Philadelphia was able to snatch a point thanks to a horrible Sean Franklin back pass late in the second half that Mwanga was able to convert to tie the match. It was his first goal of the season.
Philadelphia will be happy with the point they earned while Bruce Arena and company will head back to the City of Angels knowing that they dropped two in the hotly-contested match.
The visitors came out the aggressor in the match between two of the league's top teams. Keeping the Union hemmed into their side of the pitch for much of the match's initial period, the Galaxy looked calm and collected on the ball, as they tend to do.
As usual, Donovan was the man at the center of it all and with no Beckham in the lineup, he took on an even more important role for the first-place club. His fluid movement and precision passing helped Los Angeles control the tempo in the early going, though no real chances were created.
The teams shared a corner apiece in the first twenty minutes of play, but nothing was made from either set piece. It was Los Angeles who would get the first chance of the game after 24 minutes and to the displeasure of the fans in attendance at PPL Park, the chance ended with a goal.
Working the ball to the top of the area, Donovan attempted to play in striker Juan Pablo Angel with a cheeky little backheel. His ball bobbled around the box and sat perfectly behind the penalty spot. With Angel angling off the closest defender, the American forward put an awkward toe poke on the ball and watched it trickle over the goalline for the first score of the match.
The goal appeared to wake up the Union as they had been sitting back for much of the match up until that point. They began to see more of the ball and maintained possession in the Galaxy half. Unfortunately for the home side, very little was created in terms of bona fide chances and they played out the first half absorbing Galaxy counters while trying to force the play at the other end.
Making a big change at halftime bringing on 2010 Rookie of the Year finalist Danny Mwanga for the ineffectual Keon Daniel, the Union made their intentions quite obvious as they weren't going to sit back and wait for opportunities to show themselves, they'd be going after them.
The first ten minutes of the half were split between the two sides, in a similar fashion to the first as little was created from the possession. Los Angeles again looked the better side after the tap but weren't able to make much.
It took until the 63rd minute before the match saw a legitimate chance as Chris Birchall got into the action coming down the right side. Cutting into the middle, the ball was rolled along the floor to him. Getting inside his defender, Birchall was able to latch on to the ball and fire a low hard shot across Mondragon's goal. The experienced keeper dove brilliantly to his right and parried it away. First class save.
Shortly after that, the combo of Angel and Donovan went to work again as from a throw in on the near side, the American had another chance on net. Angel took the ball from the throw and slid a simple ball to Donovan at the top of the box. In space, LA's captain fired a hard shot that sailed uncharacteristically over the net.
Philadelphia finally got a chance on goal in the 73rd minute as second half sub Roger Torres saw the ball bounce his way at the top of the box. Unlike Donovan's earlier chance, Torres was able to put a hard shot on Donovan Ricketts, who had previously been trying not to fall asleep.
With the match apparently destined for an LA, the Union were gifted a goal in the 84th minute. Sean Franklin played a poorly-timed back pass to Ricketts. There simply wasn't enough on the ball and Mwanga was able to sneak in and pick it up. Rounding Ricketts a few steps after gaining possession, the young forward finished from a tight angle as cool as anything.
From there, the Union pushed for a winner, but were unable to squeeze another one out of the Galaxy defense despite constant pressure to close out the match.
LA's players will head back home feeling they dropped points in the match as they prepare to take on Sporting KC on Saturday. The Union are also in play at the weekend as they'll travel to Pizza Hut Park to take on FC Dallas.
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