Union Top 10: Most Weird

Our third countdown in a series of memorable 2012 moments

Rochester thunder rolls

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

Earlier this week we brought you the “best” and “wildest” moments of 2012.

Today, we cap the series with our countdown of the most bizarre instances over the course of an eight month campaign.

This truly was the hardest category to pull a Top 10 from but we think we hit it on the head.  Remember one that we couldn’t? Send us an email or leave a comment.

10.  D.C. déjà vu

Look at footage from this year’s U.S. Open Cup match against D.C. United and the tape from the 2011 match, and the similarities are astounding. We’re talking same venue, same series of events, heck even D.C. wearing the same red uniforms. The only difference is that this installment, the Union took away a 2-1 overtime win headlined by an overtime goal from rookie Antoine Hoppenot. Other similarities were All-Star defender Carlos Valdes was once again ejected and midfielder Brian Carroll scored…again.

Carroll scored in 2011 also; which leads us to our next point…

9. BC’s roadies

Brian Carroll doesn’t score much. But then again, that’s not really his role.

But when he has it generally occurs against former teams he was a part of – and on their turf.  This season the victim was D.C. United, who Carroll tallies goals against in both Open Cup and regular season play. In fact, three of his four goals in a Union uniform have come against United. The other was in a 2-0 Union win against Seattle – on the road.

8. Danny dilemma

It hasn’t exactly been a smooth ride for players named Danny. Union first round draft pick Danny Mwanga was traded to Portland earlier this year, former Union captain Danny Califf was sent off to Chivas USA and current Union midfielder Danny Cruz battled injuries at season’s end, oddly enough both on a pair of injured big toes – one which had a stress fracture.

7. Kenny Cooper vs. Stephen Lenhart

These two waged war for who was going to be crowned the ultimate Union villain. Lenhart and his unmistakable blond mane held the crown for almost a year, scoring against Union in two different uniforms. Last season with Columbus and this season as a member of San Jose in which Lenhart scored a brace to help the Earthquakes escape with a 2-1 win at PPL Park on April 28.

Cooper however upped the ante by scoring the game winner in the Union’s first meeting with New York, a 3-2 loss at home on May 13. He also scored both in the 2-0 loss at Red Bull Arena, and topped off two more in the season finale on Oct. 27.

6. Hack’s magic touch

Following the appointment of John Hackworth as interim manager on June 13, the Union scored 15 goals in six matches (2.5 goals per game) highlighted by a 4-0 rout of Sporting Kansas City, and a 5-2 defeat of Harrisburg City in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal action.  Prior to Hack’s hiring, the Union had 16 goals in all competitions played – except it took 14 matches (1.07 GPG).

5. Late doesn’t pay

The Union has always been known as a second half team, but the numbers show that scoring early bodes extremely well in the club’s favor. The Union went up on an opponent early seven times this season in league play. The record when scoring first is 6-0-1 overall. When trailing at the half? The Union earned points only twice (1-8-1 overall).

4. Michael Farfan

If you want proof that statistics aren’t a true measure of a players’ worth, meet Michael Farfan. By season’s end, Farfan was top choice for starting attacking midfielder and became an MLS All-Star in just his second season. But a glance at his numbers wouldn’t convey it. Farfan had just one goal and five assists in 31 matches played.  The FutbolMLS.com “Latino Player of the Year” candidate did lead the team in one statistic however – yellow cards, with seven and led the league with fouls committed (74).

3. Rain, rain and more rain

Remember the game against Seattle last year at PPL Park played in a virtual monsoon? Well two games topped that this year: the season opener in Portland and the U.S. Open Cup match against Rochester that was halted due to thunder and lightning and that ominous black cloud which hung over PPL Park and the Commodore Barry Bridge. It was a scene that resembled like the Apocalypse.

As for the match in Portland, the rain was so bad, midfielder Gabriel Gomez who scored on a free kick for the Union’s only goal said via translator: “The rain was so heavy; it was hitting you in the face and made it very hard to see.”

2. Le-TWO different jerseys

Actually if you think about it, former Union forward Sebastien Le Toux technically wore jerseys of four different clubs this year, but we are sticking to his time in Vancouver and New York as less bizarre, more coincidental, but still worthy of making this list. Le Toux, traded to Vancouver in January, played for the opposition in both the Union home opener against the Whitecaps and against New York in the Oct. 27 season finale.

1. Ghana vs. Chile

It wasn’t the match itself, but all of the events and moments that encompass it that make this our No. 1. Though PPL Park has hosted a number of international soccer matches and events, this one arguably ranks as the most bizarre.

Take for starters that this game is also a perfect fit as fodder in our No. 3 slot, but that it also showcased a halftime show that featured three unknown performers singing and dancing in a driving rainstorm. Not to mention the halftime lasted close to 45 minutes after Ghana failed to emerge from the tunnel. Rumor has it that the cold temperatures made the Ghanaians reluctant to play the second half, despite leading the match, 1-0.  

At any rate, a penalty kick in the 75th minute from Chile forward Matias Fernandez nullified a Ghana goal just prior to halftime, ending the match 1-1.

Tomorrow: Top 10 Supporters Picks

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