The Philadelphia Union recorded their first win against the San Jose Earthquakes in over three years on Saturday night with a 4-2 success at PPL Park.
The Quakes fought back from two goals down to draw level with 20 minutes left, through Sam Cronin and Chris Wondolowski, but the Union were too strong in the end. Sebastien le Toux was the main man as he bagged one and assisted Andrew Wenger twice and Sheanon Williams.
Philadelphia had World Cup goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi making his debut between the posts, but JJ Koval failed to work the former CSKA Sofia man with the game’s first chance after being played in by Cordell Cato.
This inaccuracy allowed the hosts to profit and go ahead in the tenth minute. A poor Shea Salinas set-piece was easily cleared, and Connor Casey set Le Toux away. The Frenchman held the ball up for Wenger, whose finish was clinical and found the far top corner.
Wondolowski then gave the goalkeeper a simple save, but it was soon 2-0.
Williams muscled past Cato on the right, and though his centre was met by Victor Bernardez, a poor headed clearance allowed Le Toux to smash a volley beyond Jon Busch for his 11th league goal of the season.
The Union’s top scorer could have netted again five minutes later, as Wenger tried to repay his teammate for the earlier assist, but an enticing delivery was turned over the crossbar. Meanwhile, Salinas’ in-swinger just evaded Cato’s timid lunge, before Vincent Nogueira flashed wide from distance.
San Jose struggles
There was more toil for San Jose after the break, with the lively Tommy Thompson producing an opening for Bernardez that was blocked by M’Bolhi, and they could have fallen further behind. Williams found Casey in the six-yard box, and though he directed the ball on target, Busch did brilliantly to hang on.
As it was, however, the Quakes halved the deficit through Cronin. Jordan Stewart’s deep free-kick dropped for the 27-year-old, who battered a strike into the roof of the net from 25 yards.
Busch beat away Nogueira’s curler, who again failed to threaten the goal after Maurice Edu’s classy dummy and was duly punished. Salinas shrugged off a challenge and dug out a cross to the back post, where Wondolowski crisply volleyed past M’Bolhi.
But parity lasted only two minutes, as the Pennsylvanians regained the lead. Le Toux fantastically provided for Williams to compete with Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, and the ball was flicked over Busch’s dive.
It was an end-to-end affair by now, and while M’Bolhi could have done little more to prevent either concession, he was fortunate as he slammed Wondolowski’s loop against his own bar, but Philly looked to seal the result with ten minutes remaining.
Le Toux was again the creator, setting Wenger away on the halfway-line, and the ex-PDL forward prodded a strong finish into the near corner to clinch his brace.
That was to conclude the scoring, with the Zulus delighted, having not previously beaten these opponents since April 2011. They’re now just a point outside Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference play-off places.