Over the next two weeks, philadelphiaunion.com will be 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 we've whittled the list down to our very favorites. Feel free to leave your reactions or personal memories in the comments section below.
For the second entry in our Top 10 in 2010 series, we call upon the second of two roads wins, both of which were settled with dramatic finishes. To set the stage, the Union headed to New England fresh off their worst defeat of the season according to Manager Peter Nowak, a 2-0 loss to lowly DC United. Philadelphia’s performance at RFK Stadium was the culmination of an eight-match winless streak in all competitions – in short, the low point of the season.
The Union needed to show signs of life, signs of the fight and determination that had defined them as an expansion side even when results weren’t falling in their favor. For all of the DC loss and a majority of the New England match, Union fans had to be wondering two things: What happened to the club that had looked so promising against some of the toughest sides in MLS, and would Philadelphia ever win another match on the road in 2010?
Ilija Stolica gave New England a one goal advantage in the 31st minute, spinning in the area and directing a loose ball past Chris Seitz for a 1-0 lead. Sainey Nyassi nearly doubled the advantage minutes later, striking woodwork with a one-timer from distance. The Union looked lifeless, even after Cory Gibbs was shown red in the 40th minute for a hard tackle on Eduardo Coudet in the midfield.
The Revolution sat back and, for the most part, stifled the Union attack while down a man until the 64th minute, when signs of life finally began to emerge. Sebastien Le Toux nearly snuck an angled shot past goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, and Andrew Jacobson’s one-timer two minutes later was at least equally promising.
Philadelphia couldn’t find their equalizer, however, and at 4-11-5 the season was fast slipping away.
Just in the nick of time, recent acquisition Justin Mapp took over the match. Receiving a cross from Jordan Harvey at the top of the area in the 82nd minute, Mapp gathered himself, squared towards goal and masterfully chipped from 25 yards out to a streaking Jack McInerney, who obliged by guiding the service into the net with his right foot.
[inline_node:287886]As McInerney removed his shirt in celebration, relief set in. At least the club would likely avoid losing on the road again.
A 1-1 final would have been acceptable, but the Union weren’t done. In the second minute of stoppage time, with the final whistle lodged in the referee’s mouth, Le Toux circled back to a ball that sat motionless in the box after his initial run was stifled by Chris Tierney, finding a hovering Mapp at the top of the area. Mapp struck a perfectly-placed one-timer far post, beating both Shuttleworth and the Revolution in improbable fashion.
It was the ultimate swing of emotion. From demoralized to sheer elation within a 10 minute span. Mapp ran over to the sideline where Nowak could hardly contain his excitement, eagerly leaning over the field boards awaiting impact. Nick Zimmerman had the clearer path, though, intercepting the match hero with a thunderous embrace. The entire squad came crashing together moments later, with a shell-shocked New England crowd and a group of traveling Union supporters witnesses to an important turning point. Maybe not for the Union’s playoff chances, but certainly for the club’s confidence.
Philadelphia wouldn’t lose consecutive matches the rest of the way, accumulating a 5-4-2 record (including the NE win and a friendly vs Chivas Guadalajara). If ever there were doubts about the character of the Union, they were squelched by a player who had been with the club for just over a month. If nothing else, the Union would always fight to the death. That much was proven on August 28 at Gillette Stadium.
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
Top 10 in 2010