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 here’s our best attempt. Feel free to leave your reactions or personal memories in the comments section below.
The number seven moment in our Top 10 in 2010 countdown was memorable for a number of reasons, but the overwhelming emotion following the Union’s 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on September 11 was relief.
22 league matches, zero shutouts. That’s how Philadelphia started their inaugural campaign, with a number of costly defensive miscues hindering an otherwise impressively cohesive expansion side.
Goalkeeper Chris Seitz had his moments as the Union’s unquestioned starter -- his penalty kick save in the PPL Park Opener was one of the highlights of the season -- and at times he was unfairly criticized for mistakes made in front of him. But there were undoubtedly some soft goals along the way, and the final straw for Manager Peter Nowak was when Kansas City’s Davy Arnaud scored off a free kick from an improbable angle to equalize on September 4.
[inline_node:287911]A week later, and 10 days after a sparkling performance against Chivas Guadalajara, Brad Knighton got his shot.
In front of a capacity crowd at PPL Park, Philadelphia’s superiority in the run of play translated to the match’s lone goal in the 36th minute when Justin Mapp sent Sebastien Le Toux in all alone on goalkeeper Sean Johnson. Le Toux squared as if he were aiming far post, only to close his hips and bury the go-ahead goal near post for his 11th tally of the season.
Coming into the match with a three match unbeaten stretch, confidence was already at a high despite forfeiting two points against the Wizards. At 5-12-5, a win was necessary to stay in playoff contention, but there was far more at stake. The MLS record for the least number of shutouts recorded in a season was (and still is) two, and there was an unnerving feeling that something would always go wrong to prevent Philadelphia from keeping a clean sheet.
Not this time, though. Enough was enough.
[inline_node:287910]Knighton stoned both Freddie Ljungberg and Collins Johns in the first half, Calen Carr missed a wide open net from close range in the 75th minute, and the Union backline, boosted by Sheanon Williams' first career start, held up their end of the bargain en route to a 1-0 shutout victory.
It was as if the weight of the Commodore Barry Bridge was lifted off of the club’s shoulders. Maybe the Union weren’t cursed after all. The four match unbeaten streak in all competitions wound up being the longest of the season for Philadelphia, but this moment was all about the shutout.
Never has a zero felt so good.
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Top 10 in 2010: