PBPP: Defense continues to carry Union

Philadelphia extend shutout streak to 242 minutes in win vs. Crew

Zac MacMath charging

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

While everyone is still waiting for the offense to click, things seem to be falling in place for the Philadelphia Union on the defensive side of the ball.

A 1-0 win on Saturday vs. Columbus was the club's second straight shutout. They haven't yielded a goal since the first half of game three at Chicago after allowing five goals in their first two games.

The defensive effort was more impressive Saturday when one factors in the late scratch of Danny Califf due to a hamstring injury that forced manager Peter Nowak to make changes in the back. Reliable right back Sheanon Williams moved over to play centrally beside Carlos Valdes. Taking over for Williams was rookie Raymon Gaddis, making his MLS debut. If Gaddis was nervous, he didn't show it. If his teammates were a little nervous with him in there, that wasn't evident either.

At this point, the Union have 242 consecutive shutout minutes going for them, and young Zac MacMath is looking like the confident goalkeeper we saw towards the end of last season.

MacMath and the Union face a big test on Saturday when they head out west to take on surprising Chivas USA. Chivas are similar to the Union in that their offense is struggling but defense is winning games, including all three on the road. How does one figure out this team? They've won all three away games, lost all three home games, and in five of six games the scoreline read 1-0.

Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy has been amazing in goal. Just named MLS Player of the Week, the 29-year-old 'keeper made four saves and was the difference in Saturday's road win at Toronto.

Former Union forward Alejandro Moreno lines up for Chivas USA and you know he will always come ready to play. The club has recently missed out on the services of striker Juan Pablo Angel, who has had concussion issues. He has played in just one game.

I'll have a closer look at the Union vs. Chivas USA game later this week. We'll see if the Union's latest signing, Kai Herdling, a forward/midfielder on loan from Hoffenheim, makes the trip.

Other observations from Week 6

Sporting Kansas City continue to roll, beating their best opponent of the season, Real Salt Lake, 1-0. For SKC, so many numbers grab you, such as nine goals scored and just one goal allowed. How about this one: They went 335 minutes without allowing a shot on goal. That's 25 minutes shy of four full games. While they are playing incredibly well, they can't afford a letdown as they face two road games this week, first at Vancouver on Wednesday followed by at struggling Portland (four straight losses) Saturday.

San Jose continue to impress after a big offseason of change. They rallied twice from a one-goal deficit to gain a draw versus the Red Bulls on the road. While some of the newcomers have looked good, it's the old standby Chris Wondolowski (one goal, one assist) who continues to come through. Even though opposing defenses know Wondolowski is dangerous and must always be watched, the striker continues to find open spaces to exploit.

David Beckham has a goal of the week -- and goal of the year -- candidate, even though it's too early to think about the yearly award. His goal from about 25 yards out on Saturday beat Troy Perkins, just like it would have beaten any goalkeeper in the world. This was not a patented Beckham free kick, as it came during the run of play.

And Toronto is still the only team in MLS without a point. They are 0-5-0 on the year, scoring just twice while conceding 10 goals. If you watched Saturday's game, Toronto were unlucky not to win. But when you are 0-5-0, and three of those losses have come at home, it's tough to fully attribute the result to bad luck.

HIGHLIGHTS: Union 1, Crew 0