Union Top 10: Wildest

Our second countdown in a series of memorable 2012 moments

Sheanon choke out

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When you look back at 2012, there was certainly no lack of excitement.

From brawls and ejections, to controversial calls and late drama – this Union campaign had it all.

Counting down from 10, here's philadelphiaunion.com's wildest moments of season three.

10. MacMath Stones Le Toux

The story was written before this March 31st game even started. Philadelphia was winless.  Vancouver was undefeated with former Union goalscorer Sebastien Le Toux on its roster.

So could you imagine if Le Toux scored against his old team?

In the 15th minute, Atiba Harris split the Philadelphia defense with a perfectly weighted ball from the right flank. Le Toux was in on goal, but didn't see Zac MacMath sprinting head-on in his direction. The Union goalkeeper dismantled the play, closing a 20-yard gap in just a split second. The resulting slide tackle took Le Toux off his feet and set the tone for the first Union shutout of 2012.

9. Now Leaving the Match – David Beckham...Entering the Match – Michael Farfan!

It was wild enough when Mike Farfan was called-up to the All-Star Game. But entering the game for David Beckham?

“It’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” said Farfan of his surprise All-Star appearance.

The usually mild-mannered midfielder was visibly excited following the 3-2 win over Chelsea. And go figure, he was part of the build-up that led to Eddie Johnson's game winning goal over the European champions.

It should also be noted that in the All-Star match, in front of a worldwide TV audience, the resounding chant for both Farfan and Union captain Carlos Valdes to enter the match could be heard crystal clear.

8. Punking Kansas City

A 4-0 rout at home against Kansas City...did anyone call that one?

The Union offense exploded in John Hackworth's second game, putting four goals past the eventual Eastern Conference winners.

Jack McInerney scored a first half brace, his first goals since being reinserted into the starting eleven. Lio Pajoy added a penalty kick to make it, 3-0.

But maybe the wildest moment of the match was goal number four. Michael Farfan played a ridiculous pass to put Antoine Hoppenot one-on-one with Jimmy Nielsen. The Union rookie took his time, paused, then hit an audacious chip over the Sporting goalkeeper.

7. Leaving it late

Philadelphia's only come-from-behind victory took place at PPL Park on July 29.

The visiting New England Revolution opened the scoring with Saer Sene's 12th minute knuckleball from long distance.

In the second half though, it was all Jack Mac. The striker earned a penalty kick in the 59th minute, which was driven home by Freddy Adu. Then McInerney scored the game winner on a 90th minute Sheanon Williams cross, heading the ball straight down from the tighest of far-post angles.

Jack Mac jumped into the River End, Carlos Valdes stuffed a late New England attack, and the Union won, 2-1.

6. Fourth of July fireworks

Coming into 2012, the Union had never beaten Los Angeles. Philadelphia was 0-3-1 all-time against the Galaxy.

Most people chalked up the July 4 road game as a loss, or a tie at best.

It was an nail-biting first half, with Zac MacMath coming up huge on efforts from Hector Jimenez and Robbie Keane. Gabriel Farfan cleared off the line from point blank range.

The Union stole the lead with a brilliant Michael Farfan endline run in first-half stoppage time. The midfielder skinned David Lopes and sent a square pass in to Jack McInerney, who slotted home with a deft backheel to the far post.

After Chad Barrett's equalizer in the 73rd minute, it was Michael Farfan again. Deep into stoppage time, Pajoy's backheel put Farfan in a one-on-one situation with center back A.J. Delagarza. Farfan sized up the shot before hitting a low, curling winner past Josh Saunders.

It was John Hackworth's first road win, and the team's first-ever win against the Galaxy.

5. Three goals in 10 minutes

It looked like the July 14 game against Montreal was destined for a sloppy 0-0 draw. But fans were treated to a crazy finish when Lionard Pajoy bundled home a deflected shot in the 82nd minute.

But, sure enough, Montreal would tie the game just before stoppage time. Seven minutes after Pajoy's goal, an innocuous Impact corner kick somehow ended up in the Union goal. Zac MacMath left his line to claim the ball, but it appeared to hit Keon Daniel on the way in.

Facing a disappointing draw, it was "El Capitan" to the rescue. Just seconds into stoppage time, Sheanon Williams' long throw-in was batted down in the box to the feet of Carlos Valdes. The Union captain blasted home the game winner for Philadelphia and later told reporters that he "had a good feeling" going into the game.

4. Controversial Calls and Mass Confusion

Moments No. 4, No. 3 and No. 2 all involve I-95 rival D.C. United.

John Hackworth's first game in charge of the Union was a home match against United on June 16.

It was an even contest until one head-scratching series of events in the 77th minute. Chris Pontius found space in the right channel of the Union defense, but Carlos Valdes came out to challenge for the 50-50 ball and brought down the United forward in the process. Referee Ricardo Salazar called for a free kick, even though replay clearly showed that Valdes touched the ball before the foul.

The resulting Branko Boskovic freekick was slotted home by Pontius, who appeared to be offside on the play. The goal was apprently waved off, but then eventually allowed, despite mass confusion on the pitch and in the press box. 

It was that goal that allowed D.C. United to escape PPL Park with a 1-0 win.

3. Double Ejections and Open Cup Deja Vu

What is it with Open Cup games at the Maryland Soccerplex?

In back to back years, the Union went to extra time with D.C. United at the expansive complex in Boyds, Md.

Both games featured a Brian Carroll goal. And both games saw Valdes' ejected.

In this case, it was dueling red cards for the Union captain and his center half counterpart, Brandon McDonald. The pair were tossed from the game after a slight brouhaha broke out in the 112th minute of play.

The game finished 10 vs. 10 with Antoine Hoppenot netting the game winner in the 93rd minute.

Anyone else hoping for a 2013 rubber match at the Soccerplex?

2.  Penalty Drama and Teammates Fighting

This game is still hard to comprehend.

It was the first match played between D.C. and Philly following the Lionard Pajoy-for-Danny Cruz trade.

It started in the 86th minute, when substitute Roger Torres brought down Pontius inside the box. Dwayne De Rosario stepped up to the take the penalty and put his team up 2-1. "De Ro" buried the kick, but referee Mark Geiger called for a retake after Hamdi Salihi appeared to encroach on the play.

Before De Rosario could take his second attempt, a scuffle broke out just beyond the 18 yard box. Branko Boskovic was red carded, and Torres and Gabriel Farfan both earned yellows. De Rosario then stepped up to the spot and promptly blasted his retake over the bar.

But wait, there's more.

Fast forward to the 90th minute, when Emiliano Dudar was sent off on a straight red card for a foul on Antoine Hoppenot. That's when the game turned into a chaotic mess. Pontius was seen mouthing off at Dudar, then Sheanon Williams received a second yellow for a foul in which he got all-ball on a lunging slide tackle.

The game ended in a 1-1 draw, but the drama didn't stop there. United defenders Chris Korb and Brandon McDonald started shoving each other after the final whistle, and both teams eventually walked off the pitch in mostly irritated fashion.

1. The Brawl

April 21, 2012: Philadelphia Union at Chivas USA is one of the zaniest moments for the club to date.

The whole mess started with Keon Daniel's 75th minute red card for a studs up challenge on winger Ryan Smith. It was wild enough seeing Philadelphia's dreadlocked midfielder ejected from the game, considering his simple disposition and relaxed personality both on and off the pitch.

The Union defended like crazy until the 85th minute, when the equally even-tempered Gabriel Farfan was red carded for a similar challenge on James Riley.

Blair Gavin was the first to come over and shove Farfan, who was still on the ground following the challenge. That provoked a retaliatory shove from brother Michael Farfan, who happened to be the Union player closest to the challenge.

But the play just had to happen right in front of the Union and Chivas benches, right?

Former Union manager Peter Nowak objected to Dan Kennedy and Rauwshan McKenzie standing above the still-prone Farfan, which prompted Nowak and Kennedy to offer a few choice words to each other.

It was goalkeeper versus manager that highlighted of the more absurd exchanges in recent history. 

Cameras also caught a clash of heads between Smith and Farfan, who had yet to leave the pitch. Nowak was ejected and suspended for the next game. MLS' disciplinary committee determined that Gabriel Farfan had to miss the next three matches.

In the immediate, Chivas threw the kitchen sink at MacMath's goal, but the nine-man Union held on for a 1-0 shutout.

Tomorrow: Most weird moments of 2012.

Contact Kevin Kinkead at k.kinkead@hotmail.com. Follow Kevin on Twitter @PhilUnionKevinK