Just over 18 months after the Union opened play in Major League Soccer with a 2-0 loss in Seattle, they returned to reverse the result and earn one of the biggest victories in club history.
It’s hard to imagine a better night for the Union, who beat the Sounders 2-0 to move into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with just two matches remaining in the 2011 regular season. The win was the first on the West Coast in club history, extending the team’s unbeaten streak to seven matches.
“It is huge win for us to get it here, especially after the Sounders’ U.S. Open Cup win,” said forward Sebastien Le Toux, who assisted on Brian Carroll’s goal against his former club. "To come on out into the west and get a win is a big confidence boost for us. It is big win for us to be on top in the East.”
After a first half that produced few scoring chances for either side, the Union took control after the break.
“In the first half we couldn’t figure out a way to break them down in the final third,” said manager Peter Nowak. “I think we made a couple of adjustments at halftime and it worked out well. We tried to push the game from the outside.”
Freddy Adu and Brian Carroll tallied for the Union in a dominant second half effort, while rookie goalkeeper Zac MacMath earned his third shutout in seven starts. With Faryd Mondragon injured, Philadelphia have remained unbeaten with MacMath starting in net (3-0-4).
Adu’s second goal of the season broke the game open, but it was a sensational effort along the endline by Gabriel Farfan – reminiscent of his twin brother Michael’s assist against Kansas City – that set up the chance.
“That goal was all Gabe – it was just great work down the line,” said Adu. “As a professional player we are taught to always go to the near post when the ball is down the line, to try to get in front of the defender. Lo and behold, the ball popped up right where I was.”
Adu did, however, have to do his part – and he did.
“Yeah, I was falling down and I had to concentrate on getting a good foot on it,” Adu added. “The only place I could hit it was going up, trying to hit the ball to the roof of the net. I knew Kasey [Keller] was there but when you’re falling down you want to hit the ball as hard as you can.”
Adu’s goal would prove to be all Philadelphia needed. With the result, only the Supporters’ Shield-winning LA Galaxy have fewer losses than Philadelphia’s seven this season. In addition to holding a two-point advantage over Sporting Kansas City in the East, the Union now hold a two-goal lead in goal differential, the second tie-breaker after head-to-head (Philadelphia and Kansas City played to two draws this season).
The Union will have a chance to clinch their first playoff berth Saturday at home against Toronto FC, but their sights are surely set on even loftier goals: winning the East crown and, ultimately, raising the MLS Cup trophy.