Sebastien Le Toux scored his second goal of the game in the 92nd minute to cap a remarkable second-half comeback as the Philadelphia Union erased a three-goal halftime deficit en route to a 4-4 draw with the New England Revolution on Wednesday night at PPL Park.
It marked the third straight game in which the Revolution (4-11-12, 24 pts.) conceded the game-tying goal after the 85th minute and extended the club’s winless run to seven games (0-2-5). The Union (8-7-11, 35 pts.) is also now winless in its last seven games (0-3-4), but Philadelphia clawed back for a crucial point as it clings to one of Major League Soccer’s final wildcard playoff spots.
Rookie defender A.J. Soares scored his first MLS goal to give the Revs an early lead in the ninth minute, while additional strikes from Rajko Lekic, Monsef Zerka and Benny Feilhaber helped stake New England to a 4-1 halftime lead. It was just the fifth time in club history the Revs scored four goals in one half, while it marked their best scoring output of the 2011 season.
Freddy Adu pulled a goal back for Philadelphia in the 54th minute to give the home side hope, while Le Toux struck twice – in the 79th and 92nd minutes – to provide the final 4-4 score line. Roger Torres scored the Union’s lone first-half goal in the 28th minute.
Wednesday night’s game ended the Revolution’s club-record 17-day hiatus, brought about when the originally scheduled Aug. 28 meeting between the Revs and Union was postponed because of Hurricane Irene.
Head coach Steve Nicol made three changes to the Revolution lineup which played to a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls back on Aug. 20, including handing a debut start to Zerka, who began the match on the right wing. Veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis returned from suspension to take his usual spot between the pipes, while Chris Tierney recovered from a left foot sprain to take over at left midfield.
Zerka made an instant impact for the Revolution, winning the free kick which led to the opening goal in the ninth minute. From the right corner, Tierney whipped a vicious cross into the box, where Soares arrived unmarked at the six-yard box to power a header past helpless Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath – making his first career start – and give the Revs a 1-0 lead for the ninth time in their last 11 games.
That lead was doubled to 2-0 in the 21st minute when Lekic notched his fifth goal of the season from the penalty spot. Zerka was again involved as he delivered a throw-in to Lekic in the corner of the box, where the Danish striker was immediately fouled by Stefani Miglioranzi. After drawing the foul, Lekic stepped up to convert the penalty kick himself with a delicate chip down the middle.
After helping set up the first two goals, Zerka put his own name on the score sheet with a well-placed header in the 25th minute. Tierney was again the provider from the left wing, his curling cross finding Zerka alone at the back post. The Moroccan stooped to meet the cross and angled a header inside the right post as New England went ahead 3-0.
Philadelphia pulled a goal back almost immediately as Torres cut the deficit to 3-1 in the 28th minute. After receiving a short pass from Sheanon Williams at the top of the box, Torres turned and nestled a curling shot into the upper left corner.
The Revolution’s three-goal lead was restored in the 33rd minute, however, as Feilhaber rifled home his third goal of the season to stake the Revs to a 4-1 advantage. Lekic teed up Feilhaber for the drive and the U.S. National Team midfielder made no mistake with a blistering shot into the lower left corner.
The Union began the second half looking for a route back into the game and found a lifeline in the 54th minute when Adu pulled the hosts to within 4-2. Danny Mwanga held the ball at the top of the box before leading Adu into the left side, where the 22-year-old slotted a low shot past Reis for his first goal since returning to MLS.
Philly continued to press and notched a third goal in the 79th minute when Le Toux converted from the spot. Second-half substitute Pat Phelan was whistled for the foul as he challenged Le Toux for a header at the back post, and the Frenchman stepped up to drill a shot into the lower left corner to draw the Union within a goal at 4-3.
Le Toux completed the comeback in the second minute of stoppage time, taking advantage of the shorthanded Revs as they played down a man following an injury to Phelan. Carlos Valdes looped the ball into the box and Veljko Paunovic settled it for Le Toux, who used his first touch to blast a low shot into the back of the net from 12 yards out.