In a high-drama, action-packed game in California, the Philadelphia Union (2-3-1) managed to hold on to a 1-0 victory over Chivas USA.
The Union extended their span of time without conceding a goal to 332 minutes, thanks to the recently impressive play by goalie Zac MacMath.
With the deceptive footwork of midfielder Michael Farfan, and the creative mind of forward Freddy Adu, the two connected on a cross that was finished by the back heel of Adu, proving to be the difference in an otherwise lopsided game.
There were no changes to the Philadelphia lineup after their 1-0 win against the Columbus Crew a week before. With captain Danny Calif still out, the backline was not ideal but still sufficient. The other components of the squad meshed well, including forwards Lionard Pajoy and Freddy Adu who have had little impact this season; both had good games.
It looked as though the first half would draw no action, nearing its close. The majority of it was back-and-forth play with minimal scoring opportunities. With only five minutes left in the first half of play, however, Farfan dribbled down the end line, weaving through defenders, and sent a cross into the vicinity of Adu. An otherwise silent Adu managed to put the ball in the back of the net with his heel, netting his first goal of the season. This goal would be the reason Philadelphia left the Home Depot Center with three points.
Chivas dominated the Union for the first 45 minutes despite trailing 1-0. They were in complete control of possession, and outnumbered the Union in shots and shots on goal. Chivas, which currently sit at 7th place in the West, has still not won a game at home.
The second half brought more frustration for the home side. With a few excellent chances that Chivas strikers could not finish, it looked like the Union would hold out. But in the 75th minute, Union midfielder Keon Daniel made a hard tackle for a ball that was taken from him. Unfortunately, instead of getting the ball, he took out the player’s foot and sent him airborne. The referee immediately reached into the back pocket: red card.
Now with only 10 men, Chivas gained their second wind and the Union were all defensive. It only got worse for Philadelphia, when in the 85thminute chaos broke out. It started with a hard push from the Union’s Gabriel Farfan. Soon after, Farfan performed a 2-foot tackle, injuring a Chivas defender. This outbreak was located right next to the sideline in front of the Union bench. Quickly everyone was up in a scrum around the Philadelphia midfielder.
This in itself earned Farfan a red card, only minutes after Sheanon Williams had gotten himself in trouble as well, but what made matters worse was that Union manager Peter Nowak engaged in this ruckus. Nowak was ejected.
3 players and a Manager hitting the showers before the final whistle does not reflect well on the Union’s reputation. Nowak showed little discipline, reflecting on his team’s game. It was a dirty, suspension-worthy tackle from Farfan, and absolutely no reason for Nowak to engage in any business on the field. Look for more suspensions or fines to come.
Although they only had 8 players on the field at the end of the game, the Union managed to hold onto their small, 1-0 lead thanks to the impressive performance by goalkeeper Zac MacMath. Even with his horrendous start, MacMath ranks in the top ten among MLS goalies when it comes to Goals Against Average (1.00).
With this win, the Union jump to 6th in the East, within three points of the second-place New York Red Bulls.