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Mwanga grabs important first goal in scrappy Union tie

Posted on 12 May 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Like in 2010, will his equalizer be the first of many in 2011?

Two years ago from yesterday, the Union formally came in to being. Full house, beautiful night, an absence of any David Beckham hubbub. What better way to celebrate your naming “anniversary” than with a last-gasp equalizer to grab a point against one of the best teams in Major League Soccer?

Head coach for day John Hackworth can think of many. He wanted the win.

The Union were unhappy not to get the full three points, especially amidst a packed house spurring them on as McInerney, Mwanga, Ruiz, and Le Toux grabbed the equalizer and had 10 minutes to find more.

Regardless, it’s a new team attitude in 2011 as they showed resolve after going down early. It was undoubtedly a shaky start for the Union, tested early by the fast paced and fluid Los Angeles attack led by Landon Donovan. It was hard to tell who was the home squad as the Galaxy committed men forward, took chances, and forced the Union defense to scramble. It paid off. In the 24th minute, Juan Pablo Angel’s run into the box was halted as he overstepped the ball. Califf bit and an open opportunity, shielded by Angel, allowed Donovan to step right up to squeeze a shot right past Mondragon’s left. Apparently, a defecit was all the Union needed to step things up. From the 24th minute on, it’s fair to say the Union were the better team.

Bruce Arena would disagree but for Philadelphia, the passes started to string together, Carlos Ruiz and Le Toux started to find the ball more, and chances began to materialize. Sheanon Williams’ forays into the attack were productive, one leading to a near post opportunity for Ruiz in the 34th minute. Both backs, for that matter, were competent in juggling their offensive and defensive duties – a key to the Union staying relevant on attack.

The insertion of Danny Mwanga into the match at the outset of the second half made clear to all of Hackworth’s intentions for the final 45 minutes. Mwanga was instructed to sit in between the Galaxy’s midfield and defensive line and exploit that space. Early on, however, that space wasn’t there. As the half wore on, it was evident he was getting more and more time on the ball. The Galaxy defense held strong, however, with Omar Gonzalez limiting Le Toux’s inclusion and stifling any sort of meaningful involvement of Carlos Ruiz. Once the element of urgency entered into the equation, Mwanga started to find space and allowed him to pressure more, a key to the Galaxy’s costly mistake. It was a scrappy goal but the continued pressure of the Union attack led Sean Franklin to drop an errant backpass that was easily intercepted by Mwanga in the 84th minute. He rounded a sprawling Ricketts and slotted a tight angle shot past AJ DeLaGarza to tie the game up. After that, the young striker played like a man possessed, almost registering a game-winning assist in injury time. Once again beating Franklin, this time on a 30 yard touchline run, he delivered a dangerous cross in to Jack McInerney at the back post. McInerney leapt but couldn’t nod it home.  

The Union were unlucky to get another in the last ten minutes but it should be noted, during that same time, the Union defense thwarted any meaningful Galaxy counter. Faryd Mondragon expertly played his part when he was called upon. A commitment to attack meant Donovan and company had space to manuever if possession was lost. Mondragon’s biggest save came on a 64th minute one-on-one stop of midfielder Chris Birchall after he was put through on net. Unfortunately, on a goal kick later in the half, Mondragon seemed to strain something painful enough for him to ask for a substitution. It is still uncertain how that will affect his availability for Saturday’s game in Frisco.

With the tie, the Union registered their first point against the Galaxy and move to 4-2-2, good for 2nd place in the Eastern Conference.  The Union will have a tough turnaround and a big test against FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park this Saturday.

Philadelphia Starting XI

———————-Mondragon————————-

Williams——-Califf———-Valdes———-Harvey

————————-Carroll—————————-

Mapp—————Nakazawa——————–Daniel

——————Ruiz———Le Toux——————–

Los Angeles Starting XI

————————–Ricketts—————————

Franklin——Gonzalez——-DeLaGarza—-Dunivant

Birchall——Juninho——-Donovan———Stephens

——————Angel———-Lopez———————

Scoring Summary:
LA — Landon Donovan 5 (unassisted) 24
PHI — Danny Mwanga 1 (unassisted) 83

Misconduct Summary:
LA — Chris Birchall (caution; Reckless Foul) 30
PHI — Brian Carroll (caution; Shirt Removal) 58
PHI — Roger Torres (caution; Reckless Tackle) 76
LA — Omar Gonzalez (caution; Delaying a Restart) 78
PHI — Danny Mwanga (caution; Shirt Removal) 83
LA — A.J. DeLaGarza (caution; Reckless Foul) 87
PHI — Sheanon Williams (caution; Reckless Foul) 92+

Lineups:
LA Galaxy —
Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant, Chris Birchall, Landon Donovan, Juninho, Michael Stephens (Hector Jimenez 89), Juan Pablo Angel (Chad Barrett 89), Miguel Lopez (Jovan Kirovski 82).
Substitutes Not Used: Gregg Berhalter, Paolo Cardozo, Frankie Hejduk, Josh Saunders.

Philadelphia Union — Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Jordan Harvey (Jack McInerney 80), Brian Carroll, Kyle Nakazawa (Roger Torres 66), Keon Daniel (Danny Mwanga 46), Justin Mapp, Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz.
Substitutes Not Used: Gabriel Farfan, Michael Farfan, Amobi Okugo, Zac MacMath.

Referee: Andrew Chapin
Referee’s Assistants: Greg Barkey; Matthew Kreitzer
4th Official: Jorge Gonzalez
Weather: Sunny and 73 degrees
Attendance: 19,178

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