Philadelphia Union’s match against Real Salt Lake this past weekend seemed to be for the taking for the Union. Despite RSL being in fourth place in the West, they were missing three players due to the Gold Cup and had won only one of its last five. Meanwhile, the Union entered the match unbeaten at home and without a loss since May 14.
Fittingly, the Union entered the match confidently, and they had the better of the play in the first half. After five mintues, Danny Mwanga forced a save from RSL keeper Nick Rimando. But it was midfielder Keon Daniel who was the the Union’s most dangerous player, as he delivered some dangerous crosses. In the 22nd minute, Daniel found an unmarked Sebastien Le Toux, who put the ball into the net – only for Daniel to be ruled offside.
But the Union wouldn’t have to wait much longer to get their just rewards. Two minutes later, Michael Farfan found the head of Daniel, and the Trinidadian’s first goal of the year gave the Union the lead.
Philadelphia wasn’t done attacking after the goal, though. Two minutes later, Carlos Valdes redirected a long Sheanon Williams pass toward the RSL goal – only for the shot to hit the post. On the ensuing corner, Farfan forced an outstanding save from Rimando. And in the 28th minute, Mwanga picked out Le Toux, but the Frenchman’s powerful shot struck the crossbar. Shortly thereafter, Rimando punched away a powerful Williams shot.
However, the Union were caught napping early in the second half, and RSL punished them. A Union corner turned into a RSL counterattack, and Fabian Espindola – after turning around Valdes – beat Union keeper Faryd Mondragon to level the score.
RSL’s equalizer seemed to take the sting out of the Union. RSL controlled much of the play after their goal. As for the rest of the match, they had the better opportunities – even if none of them forced a Mondragon save. The Union’s last good chance occured in the 83rd minute when Mwanga headed a Justin Mapp cross high.
Although the match feels like two dropped points, there are definitely encouraging signs to take out of it. For one, the Union dominated one of the league’s better sides for the first 50 minutes of the match. Despite scoring only once, Union supporters can be confident that the team’s earlier offensive struggles are behind them. More players looked dangerous on the attack, so there were no shortage of dangerous chances created. Keon Daniel had his best match of the season, so he should obtain confidence from his showing. Now all the Union have is to do is cut out stupid mistakes. I see no reason why they can’t be the best team in the East.