By: Todd Kurpel
The Philadelphia Union had to settle for one point as the Seattle Sounders found the equalizer in stoppage time on a miserable day in the Philadelphia area to send the match to a 1-1 final. The horrible weather, which included heavy downpours and high winds, kept some fans from their seats, but for those Union fans who did attend they were no doubt left with a disappointing taste in their mouth as the team seemed all but certain to secure their fourth victory in the young season. Instead the Union had to settle for the draw to improve to 3-1-1 (10 points).
The match between the Union and Sounders was just one of the highlights on a busy sports day in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia 76ers were playing their first game in their NBA playoff series against the Miami Heat, while the Philadelphia Flyers were hosting the Boston Bruins in game 2 of their NHL playoff series. The Philadelphia Phillies had their game against the Florida Marlins rained out, while the WPS’s Philadelphia Independence were set to make their home season opener.
The Union jumped out to a first half lead as Carlos Ruiz scored his second goal of the season on a free kick from approximately 25 yards out in the 32nd minute. Ruiz’s bending strike was set up after the Sounders’ Osvaldo Alonso earned a yellow card on a hard tackle of the Union’s Kyle Nakazawa. The Union controlled tempo for much of the game but were not able to score a second goal to put the match out of reach. The Union have been able to manage just four goals in their five matches, and have yet to score more than one goal in any match.
Despite the scoring difficulties, the Union seemed on the verge of securing the three points until the Sounders were able to gain momentum in stoppage time after earning a corner kick in the 90th minute. The initial try on the corner kick was denied, but the Union were not able to clear the ball. Instead the Sounders’ Fredy Montero found space and lofted a pass in front of the Union goal that found Alvaro Fernandez who was able to head the ball off the inside of the post and into the goal.
The Union’s Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga were held scoreless again, as both players are still looking for their first goal of the 2011 season. The Union will need both Mwanga and Le Toux to find their form that they had in the 2010 season if they look to maintain the lead in the Eastern Conference standings. Still the Union should be encouraged by their performance so far, as they have been able to gain ten points in their five matches this season.
The Union will look to expand on their conference in two weeks when they host the San Jose Earthquakes on April 30th. The Union’s match with Real Salt Lake that was to be held next weekend was rescheduled because Real Salt Lake is participating in the CONCACAF Champions League Final. The Sounders (1-2-3) will travel to Colorado to play the Rapids on Friday, April 22nd.