Preview: Union look to clinch playoff berth at home vs. TFC
PHILADELPHIA UNION vs TORONTO FC
PPL PARK, Chester, Pa.
4 p.m. ET (CSN-Phi; TSN)
October 15, 2011 (WEEK 31; MLS Game 291)
Philadelphia Union are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot in their second season, when they play host to Toronto FC on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park. It's very simple for Union - a win and they're in, though the right combination of results could leave them qualified even if they lose or draw - after last week's 2-0 win at Seattle. Toronto FC once again finished outside the MLS Cup Playoffs places, eliminated after their 1-1 home draw with New York.
REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu. SAR (bench): Eric Proctor; JAR (opposite): Daniel Belleau; 4th: Drew Fischer
MLS Career: 37 games; FC/gm: 28.2; Y/gm: 3.9; R: 7; pens: 5
INJURY REPORT: PHILADELPHIA UNION - OUT: GK Thorne Holder (concussion); FW Levi Houapeu (L ankle strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Joe Tait (R ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: GK Faryd Mondragon (R finger fracture); DF Danny Califf (L shoulder sprain); PROBABLE: GK Zac MacMath (L ankle sprain); MF Stefani Miglioranzi (R calf strain) ... TORONTO FC - OUT: MF Elbekay Bouchiba (R knee surgery recovery); DF Adrian Cann (R knee surgery recovery); DF Dicoy Williams (R knee surgery recovery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Demitrius Omphroy (R knee swelling); MF Joao Plata (L hamstring strain); MF Oscar Cordon (R hip flexor); PROBABLE: FW Danny Koevermans (R knee contusion)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: PHI: Carlos Valdes
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: PHI: Danny Califf, Brian Carroll, Danny Mwanga, Sheanon Williams ... TOR: Danleigh Borman, Julian de Guzman, Terry Dunfield, Richard Eckersley, Ty Harden, Andy Iro, Ryan Johnson, Javier Martina, Mikael Yourassowsky
- ALL-TIME (3 meetings): Union 2 wins, 9 goals ... Toronto FC 1 win, 5 goals ... Ties 0
- AT PHILADELPHIA (1 meeting): Union 1 win, 2 goals ... Toronto FC 0 wins, 1 goal ... Ties 0
- In the first meeting between the teams this season, Union scored a club-record six goals in a 6-2 win, May 28 at BMO Field. Danny Mwanga scored twice and set up another goal; Justin Mapp also scored twice for Philadelphia.
- Each team won at home last year in the two meetings in Union's inaugural season by a 2-1 scoreline.
- Coaches record: Peter Nowak vs. TOR: P3 W2 L1 D0 ... Aron Winter v PHI: P1 W0 L1 D0
- 5/28: TOR 2, PHI 6 (Maicon Santos 50, 59 - G. Farfan 2; Mapp 11, 62; Nakazawa 44; Mwanga 72, 89)
- Union had a two-goal lead by the 11th minute. In the second minute, a Jordan Harvey cross from the left flank found Gabriel Farfan completely unmarked in the box and he stroked a shot inside the left post. Then Justin Mapp sailed up the center of the park and ripped a drive from outside the box that sailed to the back of the net.
- Kyle Nakazawa finished off a nice passing combination from the heart of the area to make it 3-0 to Philadelphia just before the halftime break.
- Toronto FC showed signs of a comeback with two goals from Maicon Santos within 10 minutes. First, he ran onto a long pass from Danleigh Borman, rounded goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon and tucked the ball into the open goal (50). Then a Borman cross fell to Maicon and he knocked it home from close range.
- But Union killed off the comeback two minutes later when Mapp intercepted a poor clearance and hammered a drive from outside the area into the top of the net. Danny Mwanga then hit the scoresheet twice, turning home a Sebastien Le Toux cross in the 72nd minute then easily side-footing home in the 89th.
- TORONTO FC--Stefan Frei - Richard Eckersley, Ty Harden (Alen Stevanovic 73), Dicoy Williams, Dan Gargan (Danleigh Borman 46) - Julian de Guzman (Javier Martina 46) - Tony Tchani, Mikael Yourassowsky - Nick Soolsma, Maicon Santos, Joao Plata.
- PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-1-3-2): Faryd Mondragon - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey - Brian Carroll - Gabriel Farfan, Kyle Nakazawa (Keon Daniel 63), Justin Mapp - Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga.
Philadelphia Union stretched their unbeaten streak to seven games, coming away from CenturyLink Field with a 2-0 victory against Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday evening. Union have 47 points from 32 matches on the year, moving back into the lead atop the Eastern Conference.
- Union took the lead on hour. Gabriel Farfan chased down a long ball on the left flank and rounded James Riley on the byeline before pulling the ball back for Freddy Adu at the corner of the six-yard box, and he smashed a left-footed blast into the roof of the net.
- Ten minutes later, Union doubled their lead on the counter. Le Toux sent off on a long run up the center of the park and slid a square pass to Brian Carroll at the top of area. Carroll finished clinically, firing low and hard to the back post past Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
- Union manager Peter Nowak made one change to the team that held on for a late 1-1 draw with Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center. Freddy Adu came into the midfield for Amobi Okugo.
- PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-1-3-1-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Gabriel Farfan - Brian Carroll - Michael Farfan, Freddy Adu (Amobi Okugo 75), Justin Mapp (Jack McInerney 86) - Veljko Paunovic (Stefani Miglioranzi 95+) - Sebastien Le Toux
- With a victory, Philadelphia Union will be guaranteed of a playoff berth in their second season. Even if they draw or lose, they could finish the weekend guaranteed of finishing in the top 10 overall, but they will need some help.
- "On the first game we played here we spent a lot of time with the team, the expansion team hoping for the best," said Union team manager Peter Nowak. "You never know what will come out. We spent three weeks in training camp and it just wasn't enough. During the season you get used to each other to my training method, tactical, everything. Today the players understand the concepts, the tactical concepts, how they prepare themselves. I think this team is completely different than the one here 18 months ago."
- After going a club record eight games without a victory, Union have won three of their last five games in returning to first place in the Eastern Conference to start the week.
- "Right now, we're just thinking about first place," fullback Sheanon Williams said. "The guys really want to be in first place. If we're in first place, then guess what? We're in the playoffs. So that should be our first goal."
- Since goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón went down with an injury on Sept. 3, Union are undefeated with Zac MacMath starting between the posts (3-0-4). MacMath recorded his third shutout in the 2-0 win against Seattle.
- Back in the starting lineup after coming off the substitutes' bench for two straight outings, Freddy Adu scored his second goal with Union.
- "For a couple of weeks he was injured and we didn't try to push the envelope. We knew he would come back and he did and I think he had a strong game," said Nowak. "I think he needs to be a little bit more involved, I give him a lot of freedom out on the field. In the second half he figured when to attack, when to be a playmaker. I think the goal is fantastic for his confidence and for his future."
- In the last 11 games, Sebastien Le Toux has scored nine goals and added two assists, involved in 11 of Union's 17 goals in that time (since Aug. 6), and also getting a goal or an assist in eight of those.
- "It is huge win for us to get it here, especially after the Sounders US Open Cup win. To come on out into the west and get a win is a big confidence boost for us. It is big win for us to be on top in the East," Le Toux said.
Toronto FC returned home and held the New York Red Bulls to a 1-1 draw, Oct. 1 at BMO Field. TFC have 31 points from 31 games on the season, sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
- Toronto FC took the lead five minutes into the second half. Ryan Johnson slipped an angled through ball into the left side the area and Danny Koevermans was able to get around it well, driving a left-footed shot past Frank Rost inside the far post.
- But the Red Bulls hit for the equalizer in the 88th minute. A corner kick sailed through the box and found Thierry Henry, and after popping the ball up in the air, he hit a left-footed shot on a full turn that whistled into the goal past goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
- TFC head coach Aron Winter made four changes to the team that fell to a 3-0 defeat by Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center. Milos Kocic came back into goal in place of Stefan Frei, Matt Stinson and Terry Dunfield came into the midfield for Richard Eckersley and Julian de Guzman, and Peri Marosevic replaced Nick Soolsma on the wing.
- TORONTO FC (3-3-1-3): Milos Kocic - Ty Harden, Torsten Frings, Andy Iro - Matt Stinson, Terry Dunfield, Ashtone Morgan - Eric Avila - Peri Marosevic (Nick Soolsma 65), Danny Koevermans (Danleigh Borman 71), Ryan Johnson (Doneil Henry 85).
- Toronto FC were officially eliminated from playoff contention with the loss, meaning the club is still looking for its first trip to the MLS Cup Playoffs.
- "First of all, I don't want to think next season because I've got three other games, including the CONCACAF game, which is also important," head coach Aron Winter said. "We want to be focused first on those three games and after the last game, then we can think about next season."
- It was the second time in five games TFC conceded an equalizer that led to two dropped points; San Jose scored in the 87th minute Aug. 27 to snatch a 1-1 draw.
- "I can think of nine points off the top of my head that would put us right in the hunt, [that] would actually put us in the playoffs right now," Ryan Johnson said, "but we have a chance next year with a lot of the guys - and I'm sure we'll see some new faces again, guys who will contribute a lot, too - to really try and make a run at it."
- Danny Koevermans has scored each of the last four league goals for Toronto FC, scoring his seventh in nine MLS games in the 1-1 draw vs. New York on Oct. 1.
- "Three months ago, we brought in a lot of players and from that moment the improvement has been very good," Winter said. "We are playing decent games and we are on the right track. The way we are playing soccer, I'm satisfied. We have to be much better, but those are the things we are working for."
- TFC academy product Ashtone Morgan was called into Canada's national team and made his full senior debut, coming on as a substitute in the 7-0 win against St. Lucia.
- "I think, for his development it's very good because in the national team, you have very good players. He can speak to [them] and they can help him. I think it's good for a young guy like him. And hopefully he'll get also some minutes," Winter said. Said Morgan: "At the end of the season, a lot of things have been happening for me. I've been seeing a lot of playing time. This is just like a cherry on top. It's really good."
- Also part of the Canadian squad were midfielders Julian de Guzman and Terry Dunfield.