CHESTER, Pa. — In one of the wildest games of the MLS season, the Philadelphia Union erased a pair of three-goal deficits to earn a gutsy 4-4 draw against the visiting New England Revolution at PPL Park on Wednesday night.
Philly striker Sébastien Le Toux came through with a pair of goals as time was winding down to help the Union escape with one point and partly spoil an epic first-half performance from the Revs, who produced their highest-scoring output of the season.
New England’s stunning offensive surge was fueled by A.J. Soares, Rajko Lekic, Moncef Zerka and Benny Feilhaber, all of whom netted first-half goals to help New England go into the halftime break with a commanding 4-1 lead.
But the late-charging Union (8-7-11), who got a first-half goal from Roger Torres to stay alive, stormed back on the strength of Freddy Adu’s first MLS goal since 2007 and the late heroics from Le Toux, who scored on a penalty kick in the 79th minute and again in stoppage time after a deflection in the box.
Long before the late drama, the Revolution (4-11-12) blitzed the Union for three goals in the first 26 minutes, probably giving nightmares to Philadelphia rookie goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who was making his first career start in place of injured captain Faryd Mondragón (broken finger).
The barrage began in the ninth minute when rookie Soares headed home his first career MLS goal. The tally was set up by a free kick near the corner flag from Chris Tierney after Union defender Gabriel Farfan was whistled for a foul on Zerka.
Twelve minutes later, another Union penalty led to a Revs goal as Stefani Miglioranzi was whistled for a foul on New England forward Lekic just inside the penalty area. Lekic then deposited the ensuing penalty kick in the back of the net for his fifth goal of the year.
The Revs made it 3-0 in the 26th minute on another solid cross from Tierney, who this time found the head of an unmarked Zerka on the Moroccan's MLS debut.
Just two minutes after Zerka’s goal, the Union showed some signs of life when Torres took a good touch and blasted a shot past Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis. It was the third goal of the season for Torres — a tally that was assisted by Philly right back Sheanon Williams.
But in the 33rd minute, New England continued to pile it on as Feilhaber, who was ejected from the game the last time these two clubs met, took a pass from Lekic just outside the box and drove a shot past a diving MacMath and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
The Union had some other good chances in the first half, primarily in the first 20 minutes on close-range shots from strikers Le Toux and Veljko Paunović, but went into the locker room trailing by an ugly 4-1 scoreline.
At the halftime break, Union manager Peter Nowak went to his bench, substituting in Michael Farfan and fan favorite Danny Mwanga, which seemed to make an immediate difference.
In the 54th minute, Mwanga sprung Adu into the box with a well-weighted pass and the midfielder calmly took a good touch before scoring his first goal with the Union. It was a play that really seemed to breathe some life back into the PPL Park crowd, and the Philly players followed suit.
Things really picked up 11 minutes from time when Le Toux was taken down in the box while going for a header. The Frenchman then stepped up and buried the ensuing penalty kick, his fourth goal from the spot this season.
But Le Toux wasn't done. With New England bunkering and down to 10 men after Pat Phelan had to come off with a head injury, Philly stepped on the gas and pinned the Revs back. It was Le Toux who got the break through, making it 4-4 on the stroke of stoppage time after a scrum in the six-yard box.
That’s the way the score would stay despite some more excellent opportunities from both teams, particularly a breakaway that Milton Caraglio somehow managed to squander for New England.
The Union, who are now winless in their last seven, will try again to snap that skid with another home game Saturday as they host Portland at PPL Park.
The Revs, meanwhile, return home to face FC Dallas at Gillette Stadium on Saturday evening.
NE -- A.J. Soares 1 (Chris Tierney 3) 9
NE -- Rajko Lekic 5 (penalty kick) 21
NE -- Moncef Zerka 1 (Chris Tierney 4) 25
PHI -- Roger Torres 3 (Sheanon Williams 3) 28
NE -- Benny Feilhaber 3 (Rajko Lekic 1) 33
PHI -- Freddy Adu 1 (Danny Mwanga 4, Veljko Paunovic 2) 54
PHI -- Sebastien Le Toux 5 (penalty kick) 79
PHI -- Sebastien Le Toux 6 (Veljko Paunovic 3) 92+
NE -- Shalrie Joseph (caution; Delaying a Restart) 36
NE -- Milton Caraglio (caution; Reckless Tackle) 71
PHI -- Freddy Adu (caution; Reckless Foul) 76
NE -- Benny Feilhaber (caution; Dissent) 97+
New England Revolution -- Matt Reis, Kevin Alston, Ryan Cochrane (Franco Coria 74), A.J. Soares, Darrius Barnes, Moncef Zerka (Ryan Guy 64), Benny Feilhaber, Shalrie Joseph, Chris Tierney, Milton Caraglio, Rajko Lekic (Pat Phelan 58).
Substitutes Not Used: Kheli Dube, Diego Fagundez, Zack Schilawski, Bobby Shuttleworth.
Philadelphia Union -- Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan (Danny Mwanga 46), Freddy Adu, Brian Carroll, Stefani Miglioranzi (Michael Farfan 46), Roger Torres (Justin Mapp 72), Sebastien Le Toux, Veljko Paunovic.
Substitutes Not Used: Jack McInerney, Kyle Nakazawa, Amobi Okugo, Thorne Holder.
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Greg Barkey; Craig Lowry
4th Official: Andrew Chapin
Time of Game: 1:57
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 71 degrees