Saturday, June 11, 2011
Posted: 6:07 p.m.Updated: 8:01 p.m.
By Ryan Bright
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CHESTER, Pa. -- With one quick strike by Fabian Espindola, Real Salt Lake erased the Unions electric first half and their chances at three points by forcing a 1-1 draw on Saturday at PPL Park.
Following a convincing opening 45 minutes in which the Union led 1-0 and out-shot Real Salt Lake, 8-1, the home side let up in the 53rd minute and it cost them. Counter attacking the Unions pressure following a corner kick, Espindola came away one-on-one against defender Carlos Valdes at the top of the Union box. Going inside-outside on Valdes, Espindola gained the edge and fired off a low hopper that beat Faryd Mondragon to the right post and in, locking the contest at one where it would end.
I took the ball and tried to cut past the defender, said Espindola. Got a little bit lucky because he touched it. I had a pretty good shot and it was a goal.
Union coach Peter Nowak made clear his team was reeling from the tie, but wanted them to learn from this experience and work harder to put teams away.
We talked in the locker room about pushing for a second goal, coach Peter Nowak said. That was my point to the guys.
We gave Real Salt Lake a chance to come back and in one shot, thats it, the game is over. From this perspective, the locker room is pretty disappointed.
The draw, while bitter for the Union, continues their home unbeaten string to seven games with a record 4-0-3 at PPL Park. The point also gives the Union a share of first place in the Eastern Conference in a 22-point tie with the New York Red Bulls. The Union, who hold an overall record of 6-3-4, have a game in hand.
Its frustrating because we know we should still be two points ahead of New York, Nowak said. And Real Salt Lake didnt create anything, just the one shot.
The match began with both teams trading minor chances in a battle to find a weak point. With stingy defense and confident ball movement, the Union were able to wrangle control and tilt the field in their favor, taking possession for much of the opening half.
As a result, the home side nearly opened scoring in the 20th minute, when Keon Daniel, at the Real Salt Lake goal line, centered it to Sebastien Le Toux, who found the back of the net. However, the play was called on a close offsides against Daniel.
Yea, I was surprised because the whistle came late and it did not look off sides, Le Toux said. I couldnt figure it out. I just kept playing through the play.
That didn't stop Daniel from making an impact.
Three minutes after his teams goal was recalled, the native of Trinidad and Tobago, in for the injured Justin Mapp, took the situation upon himself. Standing at 6-1, Daniel, lined up at the top of the oppositions crease, took a perfect cross pass from Michael Farfan located at the right side of the box. The lofty ball was lined up and easily headed home by Daniel to give the Union the 1-0 advantage going into the half.
I think it was just anticipated, said Daniel. I reacted a little bit faster than my defender. I got in front of him and put my head through it.
It was his first of the year and of his MLS career.
It will definitely ease my mind about getting on the score sheet and contributing, said Daniel about getting his first. I think this will just give me more chances to score more goals.
The goal created a momentum surge for the Union, who began to pepper the Real Salt Lake goal. Generating multiple corner attempts, four in total, the Union nearly doubled their lead when striker Danny Mwanga found Le Toux at the top of the box, who ripped a shot off the cross bar. The Union finished the half with eight shots, five on goal.
We were stretched out, Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said. We werent keeping the ball at all and we were allowing them to play in our half of the field. When we got down, our backs didnt come forward and we left way too much space for our midfield to cover. Credit to Philadelphia, I thought they played very brightly in the first half and probably should have been up two or three.
After conceding the equalizer, the Union continued to push to earn more chances late in the second half with the game tied, but continued their inability to finish. Jack McInerney replaced Daniel in the 74th minute and Justin Mapp came in for Jordan Harvey in order to give the Union some potency to no result. The Union completed the contest with eight corner kicks and seven shots on goal.
We had to go for the second goal because you never know what will happen, Nowak said. We wanted to put guys in position to make a play and we had a couple chances, a couple good headers from Mwanga and some chances from Le Toux. But it wasnt like the first half.
E-mail Ryan Bright at email@example.com
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