Sunday’s match against the Houston Dynamo – can be summarized in one word – “Forward!”
And Philadelphia Union received no fewer than three goals from forwards Freddy Adu and Josue Martinez, in downing the Dynamo, 3-1, at PPL Park on Sunday, September 23, 2012. It was a picture-perfect day for soccer – crisp, autumn weather with not a cloud in the sky – and the weather turned out to be a good omen for Philadelphia Union’s fortunes.
Adu drilled home a penalty kick in the 50th minute, giving Philadelphia Union a 2-1 lead, which it would never relinquish. Martinez’s goal sealed the deal in the 70th minute, making it 3-1.
And the trio of goals was particularly significant, due to the fact that Philadelphia Union forwards hadn’t scored a goal in nearly two months.
The decisive victory over
a playoff contender snapped a eight game winless streak, during which the squad
had managed to net a total of only four goals. Yesterday, it was three in a
single match, against a very talented team!
“Forward!” also applies to this side filled with younger players, with a nucleus that seems likely to get better and better, as it becomes more experienced in MLS.
When asked about the young players and their victory, after the game, Union team manager John Hackworth replied: “The results are what everybody looks at. We’re in professional sports - the fans, everybody in our organization - expects to get that. But I had to believe the whole time, that this young core of players could be something really special. So, it’s nice to see when they put it all together, and they do it against an excellent team like Houston, that I think will be in the playoffs. They’re good. So it was not only that we performed well, but we did so against a quality opponent today.”
When asked after the match to describe the experience of scoring two goals in front of the euphoric home crowd, an experience which most of us will never have:
Adu laughed and humbly replied, "It's amazing, man! It's almost like you don't know what to do with yourself! It's why all of us wanted to become professional athletes - to hear the chanting and the cheering of the fans. It's the last thing that I think about when I go to bed at night - hoping to make sure that it happens the next day. I'm just glad that we were able to do it today, bring some smiles to their faces, as we get down to the end of the year."
It was an exceptionally sweet victory, for the 17,666 Philadelphia Union fans along the river – most especially, the highly boisterous “Sons of Ben”– since it was the Dynamo’s first visit to PPL Park, since ousting Philadelphia Union from the MLS playoffs in 2011. (Worth noting: A University of Tennessee fan wouldn’t have felt out of place, as the Dynamo’s bright orange and white uniforms exactly matched those of the Volunteers.)
In the 44th minute, Dynamo's Boniek Garcia leveled the match by scoring off the post, marring an otherwise clean sheet for Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath. MacMath had made a fine save on Garcia, ironically, just two minutes earlier. It was anyone’s match at halftime, tied 1-1.
The Dynamo was wildly inaccurate after halftime, however. They held 57.3% of the possession of the ball, and had eight attempts on goal – but only one was on target.
In the 71st minute – i.e., immediately after Martinez’s goal – Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall received a yellow card for “dissent” – undoubtedly due to frustration, having permitted three goals. (Albeit, the second goal had been on a penalty kick by Adu in the 50th minute, which Hall certainly wasn’t expected to stop.) Five yellow cards were issued – three for the Dynamo, two for Union.
Despite the loss, Houston (12-8-10) remains in the playoff hunt, while Philadelphia Union improved to 8-14-6, the three-point victory bringing the season total to 30 points. Moreover, the Union staved off mathematical elimination from the playoffs by collecting those points.
Philadelphia Union has two remaining home matches, the next one against the New England Revolution on Saturday, October 6th at 7:00 pm. You can visit PhiladelphiaUnion.com for more information.