CHESTER, PA- AUGUST 13: Freddy Adu #11 of the Philadelphia Union gives a thumbs up to the crowd after the game against FC Dallas at PPL Park on August 13, 2011 in Chester, Pennsylvania. The game ended 2-2. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
In what could be considered the most entertaining and exciting of any Philadelphia Union match so far this season, the Blue and Gold battled back from two deficits on a pair of Sebastien Le Toux penalty kicks to tie FC Dallas 2-2. Freddy Adu debuted for the Union, starting the game and coming off for Danny Mwanga in the second half.
Coach Peter Nowak opted to use a 4-4-2 that mostly resembled a midfield diamond formation, but many players shifted around throughout the game making the formation difficult to keep track of. Adu seemed to begin the match as an attacking central midfielder in front of the more defensive Brian Carroll, with Justin Mapp and Sebastien Le Toux on the wings and Veljko Paunovic and Jack McInerney as the strikers. However, those five attacking-minded players (not including Carroll) did not stay in the same place for the entire game.
Dallas opened the scoring when recently acquired forward Maicon Santos took advantage of a defensive error from Union defender Carlos Valdes. A botched clearance from the Colombian fell to Santos, who chipped it over Faryd Mondragon in the 16th minute.
Later in the first half, Justin Mapp drew a penalty from Ugo Ihemelu. Sebastien Le Toux, whose only previous goal on the year also had come from the penalty spot, slotted it home past Kevin Hartman to tie the score at 1-1 in the 33rd minute.
But just before the first half came to a close, Marvin Chavez unleashed a shot that Mondragon was unable to keep hold of. It clanged off the right post and was tapped in by Brek Shea, who snuck by the defense after Chavez's initial attempt to make it 2-1.
In the second half, Nowak brought on three players with fresh legs to change the pace of the game. Adu was brought off to a standing ovation for striker Danny Mwanga, who had scored his first-ever MLS goal last year in a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas. Roger Torres came on for McInerney, and Keon Daniel replaced Mapp. The three created a big spark for the Union as they sought a second equalizer. In the 80th minute, Mwanga drew a second yellow from Dallas's George John, leaving the Hoops with just ten men.
Then, in the 86th minute, Gabriel Farfan made a great run down the left flank after being left all alone, uncovered, for large portions of the closing minutes. He was taken down for yet another penalty, and Le Toux once again tied the score with his third goal of the season, all from the spot.
During the six minutes of stoppage time given by the referee, the Union were clearly the better team. They created a number of chances and corner kick opportunities, but were unable to grab a late winner. They settled for a 2-2 draw with the league's second-best team, but it was their fourth game without a win. They return to the field next Saturday as they travel to Columbus Crew Stadium to take on the only team that is above them in the Eastern Conference standings.