On a sunny afternoon in PPL Park, featuring 18,500 screaming home fans, the Philadelphia Union (1-3-1) won their first game of the season thanks to a successful penalty kick.
The Columbus Crew, who were 2-2 coming into today’s match, were frustrated by the ineptitude of their offense, caused by the play of Philadelphia’s defense and goalkeeper Zac MacMath. For the Union, who sat at the bottom of the standings, it was a day in which they quadrupled their points.
Both teams came out with intensity that was matched by the opposing side. However, the Union broke through in the 37th minute, when Freddy Adu sent a promising cross into the box. Instead of a Union player finding the end of this cross, it was Crew defender Eric Gehrig’s arm. This resulted with the ball on the penalty spot and only Gabriel Gomez and Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum in the box. Just moments after the whistle was blown, Gruenebaum lay on the ground while watching a beautiful chip shot from the right foot of Gomez soar over his head, into the back of the net.
The same back-and-forth play was continued through the first half and most of the second. Although the Crew had some sporadic offensive flurries, Goalkeeper Zac MacMath shut them all down. After a slow start to the season, MacMath has played extremely well, winning over the majority of Union fans.
The Union defense held off any aspirations the Crew held in the second half. The back four were quick and read things well, despite the inconsistent starters there this year. Philadelphia lost all offensive mindset quickly in the latter 45 minutes of the game. This made for an interesting waning moments of the game, where it was 10-on-10 on the Union’s side of the pitch.
Philadelphia held Columbus off, however, and as the Sons of Ben cheered, the Union jumped to 8thplace in the East. Although this is still not satisfactory, they have made their move and are ready for the entirety of the season.
After being acquired mid-season last year, forward Freddy Adu has not played up to his expectations. He has continued this poor mentality and playing style into this season. After the second game, Freddy left to play with the US National team. While away, not only was Adu named Captain of the team, but played extremely well to the pleasing of USA coach Jürgen Klinsmann.
When viewing this, Union fans thought his return back to the team would be promising, but to their dismay it was all but that. Aside from the cross that drew the handball, Adu played slowly, poorly, and made bad decisions with the ball. He was rightfully subbed off mid-second half, but has not lived up to his contract thus far.
After the game Peter Noawk said, “I think it was extremely important for those guys in the locker room to have this feeling and get those three points.” This game was by no means clean, it was in fact a scrappy game by definition. But in the end, a win is a win and as Nowak stated, and 3 points is exactly what the Union needed.