Union 1, Seattle 1: Last gasp Fernandez header spoils Philadelphia rain dance

Posted on 16 April 2011 by Breton Bonnette

The weather conditions, rain and a steady strong wind, kept quite a few away on Saturday afternoon. The River End, however, did not miss a beat – cheering loud, heckling, and acting as if “doop”ing in the rain was what they were born for. And for what it’s worth, it looked like the result on the field was going to reward the 15,000+ (paid attendance) Union supporters for their loyalty. Two shots on goal, one found the net for Seattle, however, and it came at a time when the Union just couldn’t respond.

Kyle Nakazawa took over for Justin Mapp on the right wing and Amobi Okugo, fresh off a fantastic performance  vs. New York, partnered with Migs in the center as Brian Carroll sat out to rehab a strained right hamstring.

The game was sloppy early on as both sides adjusted to the conditions and several tackles gave the Sounders dangerous restarts in the first 15 minutes. Sheanon Williams had a particularly tough time corralling Mauro Rosales while first touches on the offense were lacking. Le Toux, however, showed a little more of last season’s form when he took a long wind battered ball down in stride and carried it down the field, opting intelligently to ping it off a Seattle defender and take a corner kick. The ensuing 17th minute corner kick from Keon Daniel went through the penalty box and fell to clean up man Nakazawa. The midfielder collected it and fired far post only to miss just wide.

He didn’t get it done then but in the 31st minute, Kyle Nakazawa set the opening goal in motion. After receiving the ball on the far side, he faked Seattle bruiser Alonso out and carried inside. Alonso tracked and he took Nakazawa down in a dangerous position prompting a foul and caution from Terry Vaughn. Carlos Ruiz, taking over for the ineffective Le Toux on set pieces, fired over the wall and to Keller’s right. The veteran netminder got his hand on it but couldn’t keep it from finding the side netting, a 32nd minute goal. It was a product of consistent forward play, productive off the ball runs from Ruiz an Le Toux, and better combinations between the midfielders and  forwards.

The Union started the second half as they ended the first – pressing forward and looking to pin Seattle back but very few chances were created on either end. The addition of Nate Jaqua and Fredy Montero in the 67th minute posed a true test for the Union defensive line. Philadelphia had trouble with true target strikers last season and to have DP Montero up there next to him didn’t help matters much. The Union held strong and took the opportunity to counter as the influx of Seattle attackers left the Sounder backline at three. It was Seattle that threatened first though. The Sounders tactical switch created their best chance in the 78th minute. A re-crossed ball deflected into the box and sat perfectly for Alvaro Fernandez to pounce on. The Uruguayan DP fired on net but Califf, as he had all game, stood strong and took the shot in the upper body, saving the day. The Union continued to try and counter but the clean sheet wasn’t meant to be and not even Califf could stop it from happening. With time waning, the Sounders pushed everyone up for a 90th minute corner kick. The initial service trickled through the danger area but eventually found its way to Montero. The Seattle DP sent a soft chip in, with everyone still camped in the area. It found the head of the other Sounder DP and substitute Alvaro Fernandez for a last gasp equalizer wiping away the impact of yet another strong defensive showing.

To stay positive, think about last year. In five games, the Union have conceded two goals and sit atop the Eastern Conference. Considering the conditions and Seattle’s last minute tactics, it was increasingly likely to hit the mark. According to Nowak, the Union concentrated on the attack this week and not being afraid to push forward more. There was improvement but that second goal never came. “We can’t be afraid to score that second goal”, Nowak said first in his post game press conference.

Both additions to this week’s starting lineup, Okugo and Nakazawa, played respectably well. Nakazawa acquitted himself on the flank, taking men on and providing a link from the back to the frontline. Okugo was impressive for the second week in the row – winning tackles and using his body well against notoriously physical midfielders like Alonso and Brad Evans. And Carlos Ruiz had his best game in a Union shirt, not just because of his goal (see Sam’s player ratings once posted).

The Union still sit atop the Eastern Conference with ten points and will have a week off this coming week to recover and prepare for a April 30th home clash vs. local product Bobby Convey and the San Jose Earthquakes. The game against Real Salt Lake, originally scheduled for next Saturday, has been rescheduled to September 3rd due to RSL’s participation in the CONCACAF Champions League final.

We’ll have player ratings, photos, and much more over the next couple days.

Philadelphia Union Starting XI





———————-Le Toux————Ruiz—————————-

Philadelphia Union — Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Jordan Harvey, Keon Daniel, Stefani Miglioranzi (Danny Mwanga 59), Amobi Okugo, Kyle Nakazawa, Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz (Justin Mapp 80).

Substitutes Not Used: Michael Farfan, Juan Diego Gonzalez, Jack McInerney, Roger Torres, Zac MacMath.

Seattle Sounders Starting XI






Seattle Sounders — Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke, Leo Gonzalez (Fredy Montero 66), Erik Friberg (Alvaro Fernandez 77), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Mauro Rosales, O’Brian White(Nate Jaqua 66), Steve Zakuani.

Substitutes Not Used: Patrick Ianni, Roger Levesque, Tyson Wahl, Terry Boss.

Scoring Summary:

PHI — Carlos Ruiz 2 (unassisted) 31

SEA — Alvaro Fernandez 1 (Fredy Montero 1) 90

Misconduct Summary:

SEA — Osvaldo Alonso (caution; Reckless Tackle) 30

PHI — Stefani Miglioranzi (caution; Reckless Tackle) 55

PHI — Amobi Okugo (caution; Reckless Tackle) 65

PHI — Carlos Valdes (caution; Reckless Tackle) 88

Referee: Terry Vaughn

Referee’s Assistants: Greg Barkey; Matthew Kreitzer

4th Official: John McCloskey

Attendance: 15,149

Time of Game: 1:51

Weather: Rain-and-52-degrees

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