philadelphiaunion.com is 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.
It’s almost impossible to fathom that the Union’s dramatic 3-2 victory over rival DC United in the club’s first-ever home game is not the top moment of the year, but so it goes in a historic inaugural campaign. To some, Philadelphia’s first win in club history was the absolute pinnacle of the season – and it’d be hard to argue. We’ll focus on number two for now, though, and hold off on sharing why we ultimately chose number one.
One of the not-so-subtle subplots on April 10 was Sebastien Le Toux’s coming out party. Following an opening ceremony that included United States Vice President Joe Biden, Le Toux wasted no time welcoming top-flight soccer back to the Philadelphia region.
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After Roger Torres forced United goalkeeper Troy Perkins to make a diving save off a free kick, Alejandro Moreno kept the rebound alive and found Torres again along the right touchline. Torres squared and sent in a perfect cross to Le Toux, which the Frenchman directed into the net in just the fourth minute for the first goal in franchise history.
There was something surreal about the whole thing, yet in a different way than the first match in Seattle. At Qwest Field, simply seeing Union kits in action was enough for the dream to finally feel like a reality. But now, thanks to a player who would soon become an icon amongst Union fans, Philadelphia were a team that could really compete – a team that could win. It helped that D.C. United are considered one of two primary rivals, but it didn’t make the moment. In Major League Soccer’s 15th season, a Philadelphia club was on the scoreboard. And boy did it feel good.
Just when life couldn’t get any better … another goal! Moreno sent a pinpoint ball along an improbable, angled path to a streaking Le Toux in the 40th minute, and after the finish the Union suddenly looked like world-beaters. 2-0 at the break.
[inline_node:288107]Any good drama has a low point, and this night would be no different. Santino Quaranta’s blast from distance in the 63rd minute cut the lead in half, and a controversial call leveled the match at 2-2 in the 68th. Readying to punt, goalkeeper Chris Seitz was duped by savvy veteran Jaime Moreno, who lunged just before foot met ball. Seitz hesitated and the ball fell to the pitch, where Moreno gathered it and easily found an open net. US Soccer director of referee development Paul Tamberino would later say that Moreno should’ve been awarded a yellow card and the goal nullified, but it didn’t matter at the time. Philadelphia’s first impression in front of nearly 35,000 fans was in serious jeopardy.
If you were to draw up the perfect blueprint for becoming universally engrained in the hearts of an entire fan base from one 90 minute performance, netting a hat trick to fuel a franchise's first win would be hard to beat.
And yet that’s exactly what happened.
On the ensuing free kick after Dejan Jakovic was shown red, Le Toux conjured up the stuff of legends. Despite positioning his wall to take away the right side of the net, Perkins left too much daylight inside of the left post. Le Toux noticed, and he made Perkins pay with a low strike that sent the home faithful into a state of euphoria.
What did the Union’s first win mean to Philadelphia soccer fans of all ages? Probably something slightly different to each, but there was an incredible sense of unity at Lincoln Financial Field. It didn’t matter who you were – all that mattered was the crest.
There will be plenty of wins to come over the years, and many will be both memorable and dramatic. Only once, however, do you taste victory for the very first time.
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Top 10 in 2010: