Union Top 10: Best

The first in our countdown of memorable moments this season

Valdes All-Star Game

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

It’s okay to put the 2012 season in the rear view.

There are parts of it we are trying to forget as well. But after the dust settled on the Union’s third season in existence we did take a look back at some of the moments we feel you shouldn’t try to escape so easily.

This week philadelphiaunion.com will run its Top 10 series of 2012 providing a look at the best, wildest and weirdest moments of the season. Today, we open the three-day rundown with the best moments of 2012.

Thought of one we forgot? Send email to kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com and Friday your selection will be featured in our "Supporters Top 10."

10. U.S. Open Cup run

It was a tournament that allowed the Union to separate an already rough MLS campaign into a positive bubble that in turn fueled confidence throughout the locker room. Behind the campaign “Doopin’ for the Cup,” the Union forged wins over Rochester (3-0), a déjà vu 2-1 overtime win against D.C. United, a 5-2 rout of USL affiliate Harrisburg before coming up short against Sporting Kansas City, 2-0 in the semifinal.

9. Kansas City rout

In just his second match as Union manager, John Hackworth was treated to a 4-0 rout of Sporting Kansas City kickstarted by a goal less than a minute into the match from forward Jack McInerney. It was one of two on the day from McInerney in addition to goals from Lionard Pajoy and an 87th minute clincher from rookie Antoine Hoppenot who broke away from the defense and chipped over the head of Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Neilsen.

8. Fahrenheit 408

From March 31 until April 21, Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath was red hot in net. His shutout streak of 408 minutes still ranks second in MLS this season behind Sporting KC’s Jimmy Nielsen who had 414 (March 25-April 18). In that time span, the Union went 2-0-1, a scoreless draw with Vancouver, followed by a pair of wins over Columbus and Chivas USA respectively.

7. Owning New England

A big positive of 2012 is that for three straight years the Union can boast never losing to the Revolution. This year, even with MLS’ schedule modification, the Union played New England on three occasions and on all three didn’t disappoint. The Union went 2-0-1 against the Revs, the last a thriller at PPL Park in which a Jack Mac header secured a 1-0 win and lofted him into the hearts (and literally, the stands) of the River End.

6. Backheel extraordinaire

What do Freddy Adu, Jack McInerney and Antoine Hoppenot have in common besides all being under the age of 25? All three scored goals on backheels this season. In that same order, Adu tallied in a 1-0 win over Chivas, McInerney scored in a 2-1 Independence Day upset of Los Angeles and Hoppenot scored his to finish off Chicago, 3-1 on Oct. 3.

5. U.S. women beat China

Okay, so it’s not a Union moment, but it was still awesome. PPL Park was sold out for a match that the Americans trailed early, but stormed back to a 4-1 win fueled by a pair of goals from Alex Morgan and an 83rd minute clincher by Abby Wambach.

4. Gomez’ blast against Chicago

It was a night in which the Union were Chicago’s opponent on what felt like a high school homecoming. The Fire were honoring some of their past greats in a halftime ceremony and scheduled the Union as their victim to pounce on. Instead the Union jettisoned to a 3-1 win at Toyota Park fueled by a 25-yard blast from midfielder Gabriel Gomez in the 67th minute.

3. Beating Houston at home

It was supposed to be the match that secured Houston a spot in the playoffs and booted the Union out. Instead a 3-1 win on Sept. 23 extended the Union’s mathematical playoff aspirations a little while longer and left the Dynamo needing some help from a few other teams to earn passage into the postseason.

2. Generation Adidas players represent

For a guy that sat in the suites for most of the season and another that played out of position, Jack McInerney and Amobi Okugo were extremely pleasant surprises. McInerney, left off the gameday roster for a third of the season proved his worth by becoming the team’s leading scorer with eight MLS goals (12 total). As for Okugo, the club was left scrambling following the departure of former captain Danny Califf to Chivas USA but the customary midfielder left no doubt that he could hold down central defense, a position he started in 24 matches this season.

1. MLS All-Star game

An event that highlighted PPL Park to a world audience was topped with an All-Stars win over Chelsea after Seattle forward Eddie Johnson scored the game winner. Both Carlos Valdes and Michael Farfan represented the Union, the latter of which was a second half substitute for David Beckham. Farfan said later: “This is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of and something I won’t forget for the rest of my life.”

Tomorrow: Wildest moments of 2012

Contact Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com. Follow Kerith on Twitter @sprtswtr.