The Stoppage Time Hero
It's official: Danny Mwanga is the "stoppage time hero" getting another point earning goal in the 93rd minute. The Philadelphia Union stayed in the game and gave a great team effort to win their first 3 points on the road against a good Houston Dynamo squad.
The Union came out strong and out-hustled Houston in the first half. Philadelphia controlled play but gave up too many clunky turnovers while trying to maintain possession. Shea Salinas showed how explosive he is on an amazing individual effort to score the first goal. We finished the half up 1-0.
Houston comes out firing on all cylinders to start the second half. Philadelphia could barely get ahold of the ball and looked overmatched. Brian Ching makes a clear difference coming off the bench at 45 in.
Arietta fouls outside of the 18 and gets a yellow for it at the 51st minute. Bring Ching heads the ball in off the free kick given. Seitz didn't have a chance. 1-1.
Mwanga was subbed in for Fred at 54 minutes and moved up top. LeToux dropped to midfield.
Rinse and repeat. Stefani gives up another yellow card foul. Cross to another header goal off the set piece for Houston at 57 minutes. 2-1.
Mwanga showed his good touch and assists LeToux for goal off deflection at 68 minute. 2-2 and we're back in this thing. This goal came off good possession and communication from the forwards. Mwanga and LeToux were in close quarters and unmarked. Usually those situations can easily be flubbed. Fortunately Mwanga was smart enough to give it to LeToux and not confuse the play.
Mwanga had the chance to be the hero at 88 minutes in when he was left all alone for a header off a Torres corner. The chance is blown and the header goes wide right.
With 4 minutes of stoppage time given I couldn't help but think back to the game 2 weeks ago at home. Could we make it happen again in extra time?
The answer was yes. LeToux delivers a great pass off a fast break to Mwanga who drives it home at the 93rd minute. We get points in dramatic fashion again. I think its fair to say that Mwanga is coming into his own and showing us why he was picked #1.
Nowak gets great props for starting Salinas, preparing the team, refusing to let them quit and managing personnel.
Arietta played a roller coaster of a game along with the rest of the defense. They made great plays at key moments and gave up huge opportunities in others. Arietta was largely outmatched against Cruz on the right side in the second half, especially so in the first 25 minutes. To his credit, Arietta made several key defensive stops in the last 20 that were crucial. The D still needs to play much better in the air and improve their man to man marking. The offense came through with enough cover tonight: 3 goals over 2.
My prediction couldn't have been more wrong and I couldn't be happier with that. The Union surprised me tonight, didn't quit until literally the very last minute and actually got a win on the road. 3 points tastes sweet.
Official Attendance: 13,555.