CHESTER, Pa. — Philly’s month-long winless drought is finally over. So too, it would appear, are the club’s offensive struggles.
The Union overcame a Chivas USA lead en route to claiming a 3-2 victory before 18,139 delirious Philly fans in a wild and frantic Saturday evening clash at PPL Park.
Second-half substitute Danny Mwanga scored the game-winner in the 82nd minute on a brilliant turn-and-fire to send the Union on to their first win since a 6-2 rout of Toronto on May 28. Mwanga’s team-leading fifth goal of the season cemented the three points earned by the Union (7-4-5), who now find themselves all alone in first place in the Eastern Conference Standings.
Chivas, which fell to 4-7-5 with the loss, struck first in the 28th minute. After Union ’keeper Fayrd Mondragón punched away a corner kick, Chivas strung together three headers from Nick LaBrocca and Ben Zemanski before Goats defender Michael Umana capped the sequence for his first goal of the season.
Philly threatened to equalize moments later as Carlos Ruiz sprung Sébastien Le Toux free on a chip in the penalty area, only to have Chivas goalie Dan Kennedy deflect the French striker's shot off target.
It wasn’t until early in the second half when the Union finally tied the game – while breaking a 294-minute scoreless drought in the process – on the first career MLS goal from Veljko Paunović, who calmly controlled a cross from Justin Mapp and buried it past Kennedy in the 48th minute. Paunović, who signed with Philly less than two weeks ago, finished with a goal and an assist before coming out early in the second half. He just missed his second career MLS goal, with his shot on target being blocked off the goal line by a Chivas defender.
Both teams also saw their attempts to break the deadlock be denied by the woodwork. Chivas forward Marcos Mondaini hit the crossbar on a well-taken free kick in the 65th minute. Carlos Ruiz hit the post earlier in the half after chasing a ball down and taking a long shot that was partially deflected.
Ruiz — whose offensive frustrations included a halted breakaway, a goal taken away for being off-side, and a post deflection — finally broke through in the 69th minute. After receiving a beautiful long ball from Paunović, the Guatemalan successfully shielded a defender while dribbling to his right before firing it through Kennedy’s legs for the Guatemalan forward's fourth goal of the season.
Trailing 2-1 in hostile territory, Chivas found an unlikely equalizer from Justin Braun, who ran onto a brilliant through ball from Jorge Flores and beat a late-arriving Mondragón in the 77th minute.
But Mwanga made sure Chivas would not escape Chester with a point.
The Union now begin a three-game road stretch starting with a Saturday clash at RFK Stadium against DC United. Chivas, meanwhile, returns home to host the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
CHV -- Michael Umana 1 (Ben Zemanski 3) 28
PHI -- Veljko Paunovic 1 (Justin Mapp 1) 48
PHI -- Carlos Ruiz 4 (unassisted) 69
CHV -- Justin Braun 4 (unassisted) 77
PHI -- Danny Mwanga 5 (Sebastien Le Toux 5) 82
PHI -- Carlos Valdes (caution; Reckless Tackle) 64
Chivas USA -- Dan Kennedy, Zarek Valentin, Michael Umana (Andrew Boyens 46), Heath Pearce, Ante Jazic, Paulo Nagamura, Ben Zemanski (Blair Gavin 76), Nick LaBrocca, Jorge Flores, Justin Braun, Marcos Mondaini (Chris Cortez 71).
Substitutes Not Used: Victor Estupinan, Michael Lahoud, Mariano Trujillo, Zach Thornton.
Philadelphia Union -- Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Jordan Harvey (Danny Mwanga 46), Justin Mapp, Veljko Paunovic (Kyle Nakazawa 72), Brian Carroll, Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz, Jack McInerney (Keon Daniel 46).
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Farfan, Amobi Okugo, Roger Torres, Zac MacMath.
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: C.J. Morgante; Corey Rockwell
4th Official: Jose Carlos Rivero
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Cloudy and 80 degrees