By Steve Kelly
The Union fought to a 2-2 draw with the defending Eastern Conference Champions Toronto FC last night before a crowd of 16,795 at Talen Energy Stadium.
The Union controlled the tempo from the start of the match. In the 11th minute of action a pair of offseason acquisitions paid dividends. MLS All-Star Keegan Rosenberry quickly threw a pass from the near sideline to Bosnian National Team star Haris Medunjanin who sent a ball into the box to the 2016 MLS Comeback Player of the Year Chris Pontius.
Pontius was able to deflect the ball towards striker Jay Simpson who lunged forward and struck the ball with his head and found the back of the net. The goal for Simpson was his first career goal in MLS and the first goal for Philly in 2017.
In the 32nd minute of the match the Union had an opportunity to take a 2-0 lead, after Fabian Herbers earned a penalty. Captain Alejandro Bedoya was unable to convert the penalty kick, keeping TFC within a goal. Toronto FC the match in stoppage time of the first half. After a foul called on Derrick Jones in the box, Jozy Altidore stepped up to the penalty spot and equalized the match at one. Just prior to the Altidore goal, 2015 MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco left the match with an injury.
The second half saw multiple chances for both squads. The match turned after a quick restart that led Toronto to their second goal of the match and taking a 2-1 lead in the 71st minute. United States Men’s National Team Captain Michael Bradley sent a ball deep into the Union zone and found the foot Justin Morrow. Finding space in the box Morrow was able to connect and give Toronto the lead.
The Union wasted little time equalizing the match. Two minutes after Toronto took the lead, after Herbers delivered a beautiful pass through the Toronto defense that sprung CJ Sapong loose in the attacking end. Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin left his post in pursuit of Sapong, but the striker danced around the defensive attempt to score the equalizing goal.
Each team traded scoring chances in the dying moments, but were unable to find the winning goal ending the match in a 2-2 draw.
Next week the Union will travel to take on Orlando City SC on Saturday, March 18. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be televised on the Comcast Network.