However, this collective was effective as chances did arrive over the course of the match, the biggest coming in the 72nd minute, when Ruiz - who provided a second-half surge - hit the crossbar after a cross from midfielder/forward Sebastien Le Toux.
In all, the Union was held to a scoreless draw, much to the chagrin of 18,127 on hand at PPL Park, a crowd that included injured U.S. national midfielder Stuart Holden hamming it up in the supporters section and actor Hugh Jackman, or "Wolverine" of the X-Men series of films, as the River End affectionately chanted. Jackman, the Daily News was told by a Union executive, is a friend of partial owner Jay Sugarman. The Union remained undefeated this season at home (4-0-4) and is 10-0-4 all-time since opening PPL Park.
Perhaps this was Nowak's way of shunning his critics, proving that despite his aversion for going with what has provided success in the past, no matter what, he and whatever lineup he installs mean business. It must have been, because why else would the Union boss don a suit and tie in 90-degree heat and humidity?
"Like I said before, we have options, and [McInerney and Paunovic] recognize what we are looking for, that's why we put them out there," Nowak said.
Sporting Kansas City has been MLS' real enigma this season. Despite wallowing in last place of the Eastern Conference, last night's tie extended the club's unbeaten streak to six matches.
SKC's style of play and how it's managed to keep the club clean? Damn near impossible to describe.
"I don't really know what their style is; I do know they weren't looking for a goal," Nowak said, referring to SKC's complacency to settle for a tie late in the match. "Teams know we are at the top and I guess are happy to come here and find a point. But I am pretty proud of our effort tonight, we pushed the game to the limit, we just didn't get the result we were hoping for."
Just as he's done in many matches late, Nowak opted to save his best for last, inserting Daniel, Okugo and his little spark plug Roger Torres all with less than 20 minutes remaining in the match. All three played strong, even Okugo despite his visible rust from missing the last five league matches. He even had a shot on goal in stoppage time that Jimmy Nielsen easily collected, one of his seven saves. Though providing tons of oohs-and-aahs, the surge didn't amount to a much-needed three points, heading into short rest ahead of a match against Chivas at PPL on Saturday (7:30 p.m., The Comcast Network).
Defensively, the Union is still the class of MLS. The quartet of Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey and Carlos Valdes made it another lazy night for Union keeper Faryd Mondragon, who celebrated his 40th birthday with his fifth shutout, improving to a 0.72 goals-against average. Defensively, the Union held SKC to just seven shots, one on goal.
"As a defensive unit, it's a team effort but the four of us feel comfortable and we all know that we have each other's backs in the event something goes down," Williams said. "It's allowed for a really comfortable feeling knowing that we have that cohesion."
The Union will have a regeneration session today before welcoming former forward Alejandro Moreno and Chivas USA for its third match in a week. The Union will have a week's rest before traveling to RFK Stadium to take on D.C. United on July 2.
A very unhappy Stefani Miglioranzi emerged from Peter Nowak's office, in a meeting that took close to an hour after the match and consisted of all four members of the technical staff. Considering the newly signed Veljko Paunovic played in Miglioranzi's midfield role, speculation is that Miglioranzi, a Union original signed in the 2010 expansion draft, could be on his way out. When asked to provide details of the unusual postgame discussion, Miglioranzi provided no comment, strange for a player known to provide a great quote from time to time. He did say, "I enjoy playing in Philadelphia." Nowak was asked to provide insight on Miglioranzi to which he replied, "Stefani Miglioranzi was on the bench, I have no comment on Stefani Miglioranzi." Nowak apologized to media members, stating, "[The technical staff] had to go over and clear a couple of things up before this weekend."