By JOSE M. ROMERO
The Philadelphia Union was flying high at halftime, up by a goal in front of another sellout crowd at PPL Park on a warm day.
But it will look back on an offisde call and a number of missed chances in re-hashing the Union's 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake Saturday afternoon.
Fabian Espindola beat two defenders to a pass off the counter attack from Jean Alexandre, turned around Philadelphia's Carlos Valdes and fired a low shot past Faryd Mondragon in the 53rd minute to force the tie, as RSL rallied from a lackluster first half offensively and earned a point.
Keon Daniel gave the Union the lead in the 24th minute with a header for a goal, getting to a cross from Michael Farfan while being bumped by RSL defender Robbie Russell. The Union (6-3-4) moved into a tie with New York for first place in the MLS Eastern Conference at 22 points.
Philadelphia saw a goal taken off the scoreboard in the 22nd minute, as Daniel was the only possible player who could have been offside after he crossed from the touch line to Sebastien Le Toux for the score.
Le Toux's shot in the 28th minute went off the top of the goal and over it. At halftime, Philadelphia had five shots on goal to zero for Real Salt Lake.
Espindola fell going after a ball and Andy Williams was kicked in the face with the ball, typifying the kind of half it was for RSL. But the team played a much better second half.
Jamison Olave's 74th-minute header went over the goal. Real Salt Lake avoided a penalty call when the Union's Jack McInerney went down in the box, Olave making contact with him in the 79th minute.
The Union stepped up its attack in the late minutes. Danny Mwanga mis-timed his header off a cross from Justin Mapp in the 83rd minute, and the crowd of 18,728 rose to its feet as with the clock nearing 90 minutes. But Real Salt Lake held on and picked up a valuable point in the Western Conference.
RSL (6-3-3) sits in a tie for third place for the time being (with Seattle) and has only played 12 matches, compared to 15 for the Sounders, 14 for second-place FC Dallas and 16 for the L.A. Galaxy, the top team in the table. Real Salt Lake is also playing without some key players, namely Javier Morales, Paulo Jr., Alvaro Saborio, Arturo Alvarez and Will Johnson, the latter three with their nation's Gold Cup teams.