The Union debut of two-time Algerian World Cup goalie Rais Mbolhi was upstaged Sunday night by the offensive brilliance of Sebastien Le Toux.
With a goal and three assists, Le Toux was the catalyst in a 4-2 Major League Soccer win over the San Jose Earthquakes. Among the 17,421 at PPL Park was 76ers first-round draft choice Joel Embiid.
Andrew Wenger added two goals for the Union, now 7-9-9 (30 points). They are one point out of the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot with nine games left.
Having been off since a 2-0 loss to Houston on Aug. 15, the Union took advantage early of their fresh legs, especially since San Jose earned a hard-fought 1-1 draw on Wednesday at MLS points leader Seattle.
The Union took a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute on a well-executed goal that began with a give-and-go beyond midfield from Le Toux to Conor Casey and back to Le Toux, who then found Wenger inside the box. Wenger spun around from an angle on the left side and drilled a shot from 12 yards into the upper corner for his third goal of the season.
Le Toux continued his torrid scoring pace by striking in the 14th minute. Sheanon Williams sent a cross that San Jose defender Victor Bernardez headed right to Le Toux. Positioned near the goal, Le Toux volleyed the errant header in and increased his team goal-scoring lead to 11. He has scored eight goals in his last 10 MLS games.
"He has been in great form and leading off the field as well and I can't say enough about how Seba has been playing," Union interim manager Jim Curtin said of Le Toux. "And we are going to ride him all the way to the playoffs."
In the 41st minute, Casey sent Vincent Nogueira on goal. Only a sliding save by keeper Jon Busch kept the score within distance for San Jose. Busch made an even better save in the second half, a diving stop of a Casey header after he received a cross from Williams.
San Jose (6-10-7) cut the deficit to 2-1 on a blistering side volley by Sam Cronin from 26 yards out in the 59th minute.
The Earthquakes tied it up when former Union midfielder Shea Salinas fed U.S. national team member Chris Wondolowski, who fired a volley in the 70th minute.
Shortly after, Le Toux teamed with Williams to break the deadlock. Le Toux sent a free kick on goal and a tightly marked Williams managed a diving header inside the near post that beat Busch in the 72d minute.
"Seba played a good ball to the near post and I just wanted to get something on it to redirect it," said Williams, who left the game after tweaking his hamstring.
Wenger added an insurance goal in the 79th minute.
"For me to get two goals, it was probably a long time coming for how many chances I get in my career," Wenger said. "I am just happy we won the game."