By: Todd Kurpel
On a day where it seemed probable that the Philadelphia Union were going to walk away with three points in their match with the Kansas City Wizards, a late Wizards goal resulted in a 1-1 draw. While seemingly outplayed for most of the match, the Wizards earned the draw due to stellar goalkeeping from Jimmy Nielsen and a perfectly placed free kick from Davy Arnaud.
The Wizards, who in their last match blanked the Galaxy 2-0 in Los Angeles, were looking to come into Philadelphia and get the win to help increase their chances at securing one of the MLS Wild Card spots. A win against the Union would have moved Kansas City a point behind the San Jose Earthquakes who currently hold the last playoff position. Instead the Wizards came into PPL Park and faced a Philadelphia team that was playing a lot better than when the two teams met earlier this year in Kansas City. In that match, Kansas City controlled the game and won in convincing fashion, 2-0.
Sebastien Le Toux scored the first goal of the game in the 33rd minute on a play that was orchestrated by Justin Mapp. Mapp, who was acquired in a trade with the Chicago Fire on July 26th, has looked impressive when given the opportunity to play. In the Union’s last match, a victory against the New England Revolution, it was Mapp who led the comeback, first assisting on the equalizer and then adding the winning goal in stoppage time. Against the Wizards, Mapp directed a pass to a streaking Danny Mwanga who was able to then get the ball to Le Toux whose run had split the defense, leaving him one on one against Nielsen. Le Toux was able to line a shot over a sliding Nielsen as soon as he received the pass from Mwanga.
The goal was Le Toux’s tenth on the season, which makes him the first player this season to record ten goals and ten assists. He is the first player to achieve this since DC United’s Jaime Moreno did it in 2008.
While the Union had chances to add to their lead, the Nielsen’s excellent goalkeeping meant that if the Union wanted to get the win they were going to have to record their first MLS shutout. It seemed that they were well on their way to doing just that until Arnaud lined up to take a free kick in the 71st minute. Arnaud lined up near the left touchline approximately thirty yards out and placed a ball that seemed to fool Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz. Seitz came out slightly as if to defend a cross, not realizing that the ball was starting to curl into the upper right hand corner off the post. Seitz lunged at the ball but missed, and Kansas City was able to tie the score. While he may have had a better chance at stopping the ball if he made a better read on the play, it is still possible that he would not have been able to make a save because Arnaud’s ball could not have been placed any better.
Neither team was able to score another goal and the game ended in a 1-1 draw. The next game for Philadelphia is on Saturday, September 11th against the Chicago Fire at PPL Park. Kansas City looks to continue their run for the playoffs on Sunday, September 19th against Chivas USA.