CHESTER, Pa. – Rais Mbolhi made his long-awaited MLS debut in net for the Philadelphia Union, but it was the team’s offense that stole the show.
Led by a goal and three assists from Sebastien Le Toux and a brace from Andrew Wenger, the Union rolled past the depleted San Jose Earthquakes, 4-2, in an exciting intra-conference game at PPL Park on Sunday evening.
Sheanon Williams also scored for the Union (7-9-9), who continue their late-season playoff push under interim manager Jim Curtin.
The game-winner came from Williams in the 72nd minute, just two minutes after the Earthquakes stormed back to erase a 2-0 Philadelphia lead.
Williams left the game just a couple of minutes later with an apparent injury but the Union continued to pour on the offense from there, with Wenger icing the game in the 79th minute with a dead sprint up the middle of the field and a strong finish to put the Union up 4-2 and complete his brace.
That goal certainly relieved some tension from the hosts, who allowed the Quakes to climb back into the game in the second half.
San Jose made it 2-1 in the 59th minute when Cronin hit an absolute rocket from long range into the top corner following a failed clearance off a long free kick. And in the 70th minute, Wondolowski one-timed in a cross from Salinas to tie the game.
In the first half, though, it was all Union.
The hosts got on the board early with one of their most well executed goals of the season. Following a San Jose free kick, Vincent Nogueira started a counter attack with a pass to Le Toux, who played a one-two with Conor Casey before chasing a Casey ball down the wing. After getting to the ball first, Le Toux then played a ball across the middle of the field to Wenger, who took one touch in the box before blasting a tough-angle, left-footed shot into the top shelf.
Just four minutes later, the Union doubled their lead with Le Toux’s 11th goal of the season and fifth in his last six games. The goal came after San Jose’s Victor Bernandez cleared a Williams cross right to Le Toux, who one-timed a shot past goalie Jon Busch.
And Le Toux very nearly had another goal in the 18th minute but a close-range attempt on a Wenger cross went high.
Mbolhi didn’t need to do much in his debut, but the Algerian goalkeeper made a nice save on fellow 2014 World Cup alum Wondolowski in the 13th minute and made himself big to prevent Cordell Cato from getting to a teasing cross.
The Earthquakes were playing on short rest after playing in Seattle on Wednesday and were shorthanded, with Matias Perez-Garcia (knee), Steven Lenhart (knee), Clarence Goodson (toe) and Yannick Djalo (quad) among the players held out.
The Earthquakes return home to face Real Salt Lake on Saturday, while the Union are off until a Sept. 3 home game with Toronto FC.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Sebastien Le Toux||Three weeks ago Andrew Wenger complained about Le Toux's lack of press. He earned his due tonight.|
|2||Andrew Wenger||His best performance as a pro? If he finishes 2014 like that the Union are a lock for the postseason.|
|3||Sam Cronin||A goal-of-the-week candidate lost in the fray of a wild night. But what a strike.|