Mwanga plays hero in Union's comeback win


Saturday, June 25, 2011
Posted: 10:08 p.m.Updated: 11:44 p.m.

By Ryan Bright Contributor


CHESTER, Pa. -- With two lead changes and neither team able to hold the advantage, Saturdays contest against Chivas USA had all the makings of another sloppy and head-scratching home draw for the Union.

That is until Danny Mwanga, once again, played the late-game hero.

Tied at two in the 82nd minute, courtesy of a game-tying score in the 77th minute by Chivas Justin Braun, streaking down the right side on a break, Sebastien Le Toux crossed the ball into the high slot just outside the box. Gathering the pass on his right foot, Mwanga turned and fired his cannon shot that whizzed past goalie Dan Kennedy to the right side and in, giving the Union the 3-2 come-from-behind victory at PPL Park.

As a forward, you have to have the confidence that when you take a shot from there that youre going to score it, said Mwanga, who came off the bench at half for Jack McInerney. Kennedy was in good position, but at the same time, I shot it really hard. I was very excited.

The game-winner was Mwangas team-leading fifth goal of the season. The dramatic tally ranks with his late tying shot against the Colorado Rapids on June 4 and his game-saving goal against the LA Galaxy on May 11 for his most clutch score of his sophomore season.

Danny is going in the right direction and it will come to the point where he plays every single game and minute, coach Peter Nowak said.

Danny has been battling all these injuries and knocks. It has been a physical week, physical games. He is still a 20-year-old, who wants more. But in some capacity, it is going to take a toll.

The win broke a four-game winless streak for the Union and pushed their record to 7-4-6. The three-point result also kept the second-year squad undefeated at PPL Park, where they hold a 5-0-4 record.

The home result was crucial for the Union, which now embarks on a three-game road swing. The Union wont play again at PPL Park until July 20, when they face the English Premier Leagues Everton in a friendly.

The win was huge, Justin Mapp said. We have at least three away games in a row coming. Tonight, at home, coming off a tie, it was definitely big. This game was there for the taking and feels good to get three points.

Embittered with the taste of yet another scoreless half, the Union decided enough was enough. Just three minutes into the second half and trailing by one, Mapp possessed the ball alone on the right flank to the side of the Chivas box. Taking advantage of the fast break, Mapp lofted a cross that drifted over the head of the defense and landed on the chest of a trailing Veljko Paunovic, who drilled a low shot past Dan Kennedy to lock the game.

You cant imagine how happy I am, Paunovic said. Im excited and I dont want to sleep tonight. I just want to keep this working all night.

Trading shots off the post, one from Carlos Ruiz in the 52nd minute and Marcos Mondaini in the 65th minute, both teams failed to grab the advantage until Ruiz shook off his previous miss to do what he does best -- finish the ball.

Controlling a forward pass from Paunovic in the 69th minute, Ruiz turned off his defender at the top of the Chivas box and broke for the goal. Gaining an edge, the Guatemalan launched a knee-high shot that beat Kennedy to give the Union the 2-1 lead.

Nowak couldnt have been happier at his teams spunk in the second half.

It speaks volumes about the group of players that we have and what they can do, he said. I am just proud to be the manager of this team. I hope that the rest of the season will continue this way.

It looks like we found a team. We found a group of guys who know that sometimes you have to dig deep.

The two squads traded chances in what was a surprisingly back-and-forth early going, but it was Chivas that struck first blood. In the 28th minute, Faryd Mondragon opted to punch out, not catch, a corner kick that crossed rapidly into the Union crease. Off the hands of the keeper, the ball chipped in the air to the top of the box, where Nick LaBrocca headed the ball back in to Ben Zemanski, who crossed another header to Michael Umana for the tip-in goal, giving Chivas the 1-0 lead.

The first one way just a mix up in the box, Danny Califf said. Were disappointed as a group to give up two goals, but the offense came through tonight, which is awesome.

The Union responded well to the deficit, earning four consecutive corner kicks and three shots on goal. The teams best chance came before the Chivas goal in the 25th minute, when Le Toux passed the ball to McInerney to the right end of the box. McInerney, making his the second half of back-to-back starts, put a move on the defender to gain a shooting lane in the slot, but instead tried to go back to Le Toux, who fired it off a defender and out of play.

The scoreless half was the sixth stanza in a row in which the Union went without. They pushed their streak to 294 minutes without a goal before Paunovics line drive got the Union on the board.

You never know when theyre going to come, but when it rains it pours, Mapp said. We needed all three. Its funny how it works out sometimes but its good to get on the board.

The run-and-gun style of game against Chivas is different from the usual low-scoring match the Union play. Prior to Saturday, in their last three games combined, the Union gave up just two goals against.

It gives us a lot of confidence, said Califf, who claimed the team needed an offensive lift. Weve been living on the defensive end and not relying on scoring. But for us to come out tonight to put pressure on them was fantastic. It was fun to watch and a fun game to play in.

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