Top 10 in 2010: End of a Beginning

Top 10 in 2010 enters the top three with a perfect home finale

philadelphiaunion.com is counting down the top 10 moments of the Union’s inaugural season as part of our Top 10 in 2010 series. It wasn’t easy narrowing down a historic season filled with countless memories, but here’s our best attempt. Feel free to leave your reactions or personal memories in the comments section below.

Interestingly enough, we
enter the top three of our Top 10 in 2010 countdown with a match that meant
nothing in the standings. Playoff hopes were long since extinguished when the
Union topped the Eastern Conference leading New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the club’s
home finale, but try convincing any fan in attendance that a victory wasn’t
important.

There were a few factors in
play that made the match feel more significant than it really was in the grand
scheme of the MLS season. With roughly five months until the Union would play
at PPL Park again, nobody wanted to taste defeat for that long - especially not
to a division rival, the club’s closest in proximity and arguably the fiercest.
Then there was the visiting supporters influence, with the largest contingent
in PPL Park’s short history in attendance. Mix in a sold out crowd and
pre-arranged post-game fireworks, not to mention players dedicating the match
to the fans, and it’s understandable that some were deeming it the Union’s MLS
Cup.

The Red Bulls were without
Thierry Henry, but they hadn’t loss in five matches -- four of which came
against playoff-bound squads -- and they dominated the LA Galaxy at the Home
Depot Center without their superstar Designated Player a few weeks prior.
Rafa
Márquez headlined a dangerous squad that also featured Juan Pablo Ángel, Joel
Lindpere, Rookie of the Year finalist Tim Ream, and an in-form Dane Richards.

The anticipation was there,
but the match itself needed to live up to its billing. And did it ever.

Philadelphia came out and
dominated New York in the first half, with first half goals from Fred and
Michael Orozco Fiscal punctuating one of the finest halves of the season for
Peter Nowak’s side. It was shaping up to be the perfect ending - until it
almost fell apart.

New York were rejuvenated
after the interval, cutting the deficit in half in the 48
th minute
on a goal from Danleigh Borman. The remainder of the match proved to be a
back-and-forth affair, before the evening was nearly spoiled in the dying
moments of stoppage time.

With seconds remaining, Lindpere placed a well-taken corner onto the head of Juan Agudelo, which
the 17-year-old proceeded to direct on goal with sufficient pace. Goalkeeper
Brad Knighton was a step out of position to make the save, but an unlikely hero
emerged to save the day. Fred’s goal line clearance preserved all three points
for the Union, and the perfect ending was complete – in fact, it was better for
all the drama and tension.

Fireworks ensued and they
felt more than justified. Nowak and the players thanked the fans for their unwavering
support as excitement for 2011 brimmed. 2010 wasn’t yet complete with the
season finale in Columbus looming eight days later, but optimism for the future
was at an all-time high. The Union weren’t playoff bound, but they had proven
against New York -- and in a 1-0 loss to LA the match before -- that they could
play with anyone.

Beating the Red Bulls and preventing them from clinching the Eastern Conference crown at PPL Park was without
question an ideal way to cap the home portion of the season. But this night was
about more. A season’s worth of memories were created together and a tight-knit
relationship was formed between the players and fans. And then there was the underlying theme of the evening: The long and promising road ahead.

October 16 was a perfect ending, but in reality it was only the end of a new beginning. And that, more than anything else, is what made the moment. 

WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Top 10 in 2010:

#10: The 95th Minute PK

#9: Two to Win It

#8: An International Statement

#7: A Clean Sheet At Last

#6: The Wait is Over

#5: Road to Victory

#4: A Star is Born