TORONTO - An 85th-minute goal by fullback Sheanon Williams gave Philadelphia a 1-1 tie Saturday, denying Toronto FC its first MLS win in almost two months.
It was a sloppy goal, with Toronto unable to clear a low cross from Antoine Hoppenot through the penalty box. The ball went through a sea of legs until Williams tapped it in for only his second goal in 63 career games.
Eric Hassli's 58th-minute goal had looked like it was going to be the difference. It was the French striker's second goal in as many games and his third in six outings since joining Toronto from Vancouver.
Both teams remain in dire need of a win. Toronto is 0-6-3 since defeating Colorado 2-1 on July 18. Philadelphia is 0-3-4 since beating New England 2-1 on July 29.
Toronto left the field to a chorus of boos.
Toronto manager Paul Mariner had challenged his team to show its character after a woeful midweek 2-1 loss to visiting Chicago that eliminated the team from playoff contention for the sixth straight year.
The Chicago game drew just 14,623 — the smallest crowd for a league game this season at BMO Field.
Toronto (5-17-7) responded Saturday, outplaying the visitors but unable to make that advantage pay until the 58th minute. Luis Silva, who was lively all game and set up the score, could have had a pair of goals in the first half himself if he had been on target.
But any positives disappeared with the late goal from Philadelphia (7-13-6).
Not too many were on hand as, once again, Toronto fans showed their displeasure at the franchise by staying away. Announced attendance was 15,669.
In their defence, the game was a matchup of the league's worst teams. The two combined for just one shot on target (by Toronto) in the first half.
The Toronto goal came after a long ball from defender Darren O'Dea found Silva down the right flank. He raked the ball back to Terry Dunfield, who was unable to make contact but it found its way to Hassli who calmly fired a right-footed shot into the corner of the net.
The Union are a young squad with a stingy defence (they had yielded 30 goals coming into the game, compared to 50 for Toronto) and popgun attack. And while they started stroking the ball around early, they did not threaten the Toronto goal and the home side had most of the attacking play as the first half wore on.
The Philadelphia defence did not live up to its billing and looked shaky at times. It bent but did not break, however, in the first half.
Still there was an ominous sign for Toronto at the opening kickoff when Dunfield's attempted hoof up the field was blocked and two home defenders collided in trying to head the ball back to goalie Milos Kocic.
Dunfield and forward Ryan Johnson returned to the Toronto lineup from international duty but fullback Ashtone Morgan was forced to sit out due to accumulation of yellow cards.
Kocic, whose wife gave birth to triplets last Sunday, showed good anticipation in the 17th minute, coming out quickly to clear the ball ahead of an onrushing Danny Cruz.
Five minutes later, a fine Hassli cross was cleared away at the last moment as Dunfield and Silva waited in front of goal.
The crowd finally showed its voice in the 23rd minute when Hassli was booked for dissent. Seconds later Silva shot just wide after turning the defence on a fine run.
Silva missed another good chance in the 41st minute when, in front of goal, he blasted a volley high after a fine headed cross from Johnson.
Union star Freddy Adu, who did not show much on the day, was substituted in the 71st minute.
Andrew Wiedeman and Quincy Amarikwa, both substituted by Mariner on Wednesday, gave way to Dunfield and Johnson.
Amirkwa came on for Hassli in the 82st minute after the big striker took a knock.
NOTES — Earl Cochrane, director of team and player operations, says TFC needs three to four starters and three to four quality depth players. Cochrane was speaking during the game radio broadcast.