By JOSE M. ROMERO
The Philadelphia Union had a golden opportunity for three points Wednesday against the last-place team in the MLS Eastern Conference at home, and did everything it could to get those three points, except score a goal.
Consequently, no three points. Just as frustrating a point for a scoreless draw as the result was gratifying for Sporting Kansas City.
The Union (6-4-5) fired away at SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, who was up to the challenge every time. Nielsen made seven saves as Philadelphia dominated possession and scoring chances throughout the match in front of 18,127 at PPL Park.
Given that the Gold Cup semifinals were also taking place Wednesday night, it was another good showing from Union fans.
Perhaps Sporting's best chances had come and gone in the first 15 minutes of the match, with Omar Bravo unable to finish a good setup from Chance Myers in the 9th minute and six minutes later, Kei Kamara shooting wide after a giveaway by the Union defense.
The Union's Sheanon Williams had his 24th-minute shot saved by Nielsen, and three minutes later, Jack McInerney controlled a pass from Jordan Harvey in the box, created some space between his defender and the goal, and drove a shot Nielsen saved.
Nielsen stopped a free kick shot from Carlos Ruiz in the 29th minute.
No Union player, though, could have been more flustered than wing Sebastian Le Toux, who took five quality shots and missed on all.
With actor Hugh Jackman watching and goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon having Tuesday turned 40 years old, the Union hoped to reward both with a win. At least Mondragon didn't have to work much, and Jackman got cheers for holding up a Union scarf.
The match slowed down for the first part of the second half, then the Union picked it up on the attack again. In the 72nd minute, Ruiz just missed a header for a goal when a cross from Le Toux to Ruiz bounced off the top of the goal.
Shots by Justin Mapp and Le Toux in the 77th minute were saved by Nielsen. At match's end, Philadelphia had a total of 26 shots to Kansas City's eight. But SKC (3-6-5) got the draw, which prevented the Union from taking sole possession of first place in the East.