While the Philadelphia Union didn’t pick up the three points they set out to claim, the road point they did pick up said a lot about the team.
This was about effort and character, and probably a little bit of luck along the way as well. For the second straight week, the Union trailed by one at the half. They could have led at the half, but a lack of strong finishing, plus some big saves from DC 'keeper Bill Hamid, kept the Union off the board.
While the team rallied to draw level in the 49th minute, they also gave up a goal to put them down again. With time running out and all three substitutions made, three starters came through in the clutch.
A Sebastien Le Toux pass found a streaking Sheanon Williams free on the right side, towards the end line, and Williams found Carlos Ruiz. The Guatemalan international made no mistake with his one touch finish and in the 84th minute Philadelphia had tied the score again.
For Ruiz, it marked his second consecutive game with a goal, and second in three games since returning from the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He is now tied with Danny Mwanga for the team lead with five goals.
Manager Peter Nowak put out a strong offensive lineup, looking for the road win. Besides Ruiz and Le Toux, attackers Danny Mwanga, Justin Mapp and Veljko Paunovic all made the starting 11. When Nowak needed to switch things up, he effectively subbed in Gabriel Farfan, Keon Daniel, and Jack McInerney to give the team different looks.
For the Union, this was a good draw on the road.
Saturday Night Observations:
How about the work of Brian Carroll in the midfield. With Dwayne De Rosario and others to contend with, Carroll had another strong game. Focus on him some night when you’re watching the Union play. See how many passes he breaks up, how he disrupts the other team. Look at how many 50/50 balls he wins. To appreciate his play, forget the scoresheet or the stats, just watch him during the game.
On the plus side, it’s two straight multiple goal games now for Philadelphia, totaling five goals.
On the down side, it’s also two straight games where they have allowed multiple goal games, with two each versus Chivas USA and DC United.
The Sons of Ben presence was strong at RFK. They helped to make a small crowd (under 14,000) sound very loud. I’m sure the Union players heard them throughout the game.
The Union are idle until Saturday night when they take on the San Jose Earthquakes, who are led up top by Chris Wondolowski and Steven Lenhart. The Quakes are also playing midweek away vs. Chivas USA.
I’ll have more on the matchup later this week.