CHESTER, Pa. – Sébastien Le Toux didn’t score a goal in his return to PPL Park.
Neither did his former team as Saturday’s much-hyped game between the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps and Philadelphia Union ended in a relatively uneventful scoreless draw.
With the result, the Whitecaps (2-0-2) remain unbeaten and have still yet to allow a goal this season. They are also now 1-0-1 on the road, a far cry last year’s 0-12-5 mark away from BC Place.
The Union (0-3-1), meanwhile, remain winless, although they did manage to earn their first point of the season.
With the return of Le Toux – a Philly fan favorite who led the Union in goals and assists in the franchise’s first two seasons before he was traded to Vancouver for allocation money in the offseason – the game had more appeal than a usual matchup between teams on opposite coasts. The Whitecaps also started ex-Philadelphia defender Jordan Harvey, meaning they had more Union originals on the field to start the game (Le Toux and Harvey) than the Union (Danny Califf).
Le Toux, who publicly bristled with Union manager Peter Nowak after his trade, nearly made it a special homecoming with a go-ahead goal, but his 83rd-minute shot went just high.
His ex-teammates also nearly found the back of the net in the second half, generating most of their offense after the halftime break.
In the 47th minute, Carlos Valdés’ left-footed volley off a Keon Daniel corner kick hit the post, and two minutes later Brian Carroll’s dribbling shot off a Gabriel Gómez cross nearly scooted by Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon. Then, in the 55th minute, Cannon made another nice save on a Daniel blast, which came about 20 minutes before Califf – making his return to the lineup after a two-game absence – had a header that went high on a Daniel corner.
But despite subbing in goal-scoring threats Danny Mwanga and Jack McInerney – the latter of whom came on for rookie Chandler Hoffman, who made his MLS debut – the Union could not get on the scoreboard.
The first half was less eventful, as neither team even mustered a shot on frame.
In the ninth minute, Gabriel Farfan managed to find Valdés with two separate chip passes but Valdes couldn’t produce anything dangerous in the box. The Union’s only other legitimate scoring chance – and shot – of the first half came on a Lionard Pajoy low, driving shot that went wide.
Not surprisingly, with Eric Hassli (ankle) back in Vancouver, Le Toux created much of the offensive chances in the first half for the ’Caps. In the 15th minute, the former Union striker chased down a through ball that set up a near-breakaway attempt but his first touch was pushed away by Union ’keeper Zac MacMath. Twelve minutes later, MacMath scooped up another dangerous Le Toux touch in the box.
The Union are off until April 14 when they host Columbus at PPL Park, while the Whitecaps travel to San Jose for a road matchup on April 7.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com .
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