After playing 2 home games at Lincoln Financial Field and their other 9 games on the road, the Philadelphia Union finally got a chance to make their real home debut at PPL Park today.
In front of a sold out crowd of 18,755, the Union opened up their new home against last year’s expansion club, the Seattle Sounders. In the season opener for both clubs, the Sounders shut out the Union, 2-0.
The Union’s youth would play a big part in this game, as they looked a lot more energetic than Seattle in the second half on this 90+ degree day in Chester.
After falling down 1-0 on a Seattle goal right before the end of a Union dominated first half, the U came out in the 2nd half looking to even the match. With Alejandro Moreno being dragged down in the box, the Union were awarded a penalty kick. Sebastian Le Toux, clearly the man of the match, knocked home the PK and the match was all squared up.
Seattle was awarded a PK not more than 5 minutes later, it looked like the Union would fall behind again. Much maligned GK Chris Seitz came up huge and made the save on the penalty and kept the match tied up.
The Union pushed the ball up the field repeatedly in the second half and were clearly the more offensive team. With repeated chances in their offensive end, it seemed as it was inevitable that the Union would take the lead.
In the 79th minute, on one of his numerous advances down the field, Le Toux sent a cross that Fred “Too good for a last name” banged home for the eventual game winning goal. Fred was brought in to be an offensive force, and it’s good for him to finally get on the scoresheet in 2010.
The Union weren’t done with the scoring, however. Rookie phenom Danny Mwanga, on yet another cross from Le Toux, sent a shot that Seattle GK Kasey Keller stopped originally, but Mwanga knocked home the rebound for his 4th goal of the season. Incredibly, it was his first goal that wasn’t scored in stoppage time.
WIth the 3-1 win over Seattle to go with the 3-2 win over D.C. United and the 1-1 tie with F.C. Dallas, the Union managed to stay undefeated at home in their inaugural season.
With their record now at 3-7-1, the Union face Chivas USA in their next match. While the U has the youngest roster in MLS, as the season progresses, they keep getting better. Today’s match was clearly the type of match that manager Peter Nowak is looking for. After 11 matches under their belt, the experience is building and the team is starting to come together.
On a related note, the Sons of Ben sounded fantastic on the national TV broadcast. I’ve got seats in The River End, but I was unable to attend tonight’s match. I’m glad to see that the SOBs made their presence known to the rest of the league. Can’t wait to join the party next time.
All in all, it was a great opener for the Union and PPL Park. Soccer has made a ton of noise in Philadelphia (& Chester) over the past few months, and I only see it getting louder as the season goes on.