CHESTER, Pa. – In newcomer Freddy Adu’s first game with the Philadelphia Union, it was a franchise original that saved the day.
Led by a pair of goals from stalwart attacker Sebastien Le Toux – both on penalty kicks – the Union played FC Dallas to a 2-2 draw in an inter-conference battle between two of the league’s top teams Saturday night.
Maicon Santos and Brek Shea netted first-half goals for FC Dallas, who threatened to spoil the debut of Adu and send the Union home with a loss in front of a hyped-up sold out crowd of 18,811 at PPL Park.
But in the 86th minute, the Union erased Dallas’ 2-1 lead when Le Toux scored his second PK goal of the night, a tally that was set up when Union left back Gabriel Farfan was taken down in the box by Dallas substitute Jackson.
Philadelphia would go on to threaten the net twice more in stoppage, but FCD ‘keeper Kevin Hartman produced a pair of spectacular saves to get his side out of Chester with the point.
Santos, who came over from Toronto in a recent trade, opened the scoring early in the first half when, in the 16th minute, he put Dallas up 1-0. Pouncing on a missed clearance by Philly center back Carlos Valdés, Santos lofted a floater into the back of the net.
That set up Le Toux’s first bit of heroics, as he helped set up the first penalty with a beautiful over-the-top pass to Justin Mapp. The winger caught George John sleeping on the offside trap and was taken down in the box by Dallas defender Ugo Ihemelu. Le Toux converted easily past Hartman to make it 1-1.
Le Toux, who last scored on April 30 and has yet to score in the run of play this season, has now taken every penalty kick in Union history, making all six of them.
He could probably have had another goal earlier in the first half, but his bending free kick was batted away spectacularly by Hartman.
Right before the halftime whistle, Shea put Dallas up 2-1 when he tapped in a rebound of a Marvin Chavez shot. Chavez was sprung free on a terrific through pass from Santos and tapped the ball through Mondragón’s legs and off the left post.
Meanwhile, throughout the night, all eyes were on Adu, who put in a solid, if not spectacular, performance in his first MLS game since 2007. Alternating between midfield and striker, the 22-year-old took a couple of well-placed corner kicks and showed good vision with some of his long balls, but was mostly quiet in the first half, save for a yellow card he picked up for a rough slide tackle in the 27th minute.
Adu, who received a deafening ovation when his name was announced pregame, picked it up in the second half, getting in the middle of several good build-ups before leaving in the 62nd minute to more applause.
The player who replaced Adu – Danny Mwanga – made his mark on the game later in the second half when he drew John’s second yellow of the game, giving the Union a man advantage for the game’s final 10 minutes. Philly used the advantage to attack the Dallas defense with even more fervor, eventually resulting in the equalizing penalty.
But aside from the PK goal, the Union could not find the go-ahead score, despite a 90th-minute blast from Mwanga and an excellent stoppage-time header from fellow second-half sub Keon Daniel, which brought those highlight-reel saves out of Hartman.
Though back on their heels late in the contest, Dallas also had their chances to score after the break – namely on consecutive shots from midfielder Ricardo Villar in the 78th and 79th minutes.
With Saturday’s result, the Union move to 8-5-10 (34 points) and remain second in the Eastern Conference. Their next game comes in a week against first-place Columbus.
Dallas, which now stand at 12-6-7 (43 points), remain second in the Western Conference and have a midweek CONCACAF Champions League contest vs. Pumas UNAM on Wednesday.
DAL -- Maicon Santos 7 (unassisted) 16
PHI -- Sebastien Le Toux 2 (penalty kick) 33
DAL -- Brek Shea 10 (unassisted) 47+
PHI -- Sebastien Le Toux 3 (penalty kick) 84
FC Dallas -- Kevin Hartman, Zach Loyd, George John, Ugo Ihemelu, Jair Benitez, Marvin Chavez (Andrew Jacobson 82), Bruno Guarda (Daniel Cruz 71), Ricardo Villar, Daniel Hernandez (Jackson 67), Brek Shea, Maicon Santos.
Substitutes Not Used: Eric Alexander, Ruben Luna, Bobby Warshaw, Chris Seitz.
Philadelphia Union -- Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan, Justin Mapp (Keon Daniel 79), Freddy Adu (Danny Mwanga 62), Brian Carroll, Veljko Paunovic, Sebastien Le Toux, Jack McInerney (Roger Torres 73).
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Farfan, Stefani Miglioranzi, Amobi Okugo, Zac MacMath.
DAL -- George John (caution; Reckless Foul) 24
PHI -- Freddy Adu (caution; Reckless Tackle) 27
DAL -- Maicon Santos (caution; Dissent) 56
PHI -- Jack McInerney (caution; Reckless Tackle) 68
DAL -- George John (ejection; Second Caution) 80
Referee: Geoff Gamble
Referee's Assistants: -Daniel Belleau; Eric Proctor
4th Official: Drew Fischer
Time of Game: 1:56