Against all odds, the Philadelphia Union’s shutout streak lives on.
Down two men for the final 10 minutes of Saturday’s game with Chivas USA, Philly bunkered in and survived to earn a 1-0 road victory.
The Union have not given up a goal over the past 332 minutes, a stretch that includes three consecutive shutouts.
“It’s a tribute to our boys,” Union manager Peter Nowak said. “Even with two red cards, we didn’t give up much. We deserved to win.”
WATCH: CHV-PHI highlights
Philly’s first red card came in the 75th minute when midfielder Keon Daniel was sent off for a studs-up tackle on Ryan Smith. Ten minutes later, left back Gabriel Farfan was shown red after an equally dangerous tackle, which led to a bench-clearing scuffle and the ejection of Nowak, who entered the field of play.
When asked about the second-half messiness, Nowak declined comment at first but then came to the defense of his players.
“I think the game went a little bit in the other direction after we scored our goal,” the Union manager said. “You don’t want to see this kind of stuff. Chivas was trying to pull every single trick out of their sleeve to make us suffer.
“But I think it was a good three points. It’s very important to us, especially being on the West Coast where in the last couple of years we didn’t have success. It’s a tribute to the guys in the locker room who put so much work together.”
OPTA CHALKBOARD: How the Union held their lead
The shutout was certainly improbable, considering the Union had only won one West Coast game in franchise history before Saturday. Plus, captain and center back Danny Califf missed his second straight game with a hamstring strain.
But with rookie Ray Gaddis impressive again in his second straight start, Carlos Valdés and Sheanon Williams holding it down at center back, Gabriel Farfan showing his speed and creativity at left back and Chris Albright providing some veteran stability as a late sub after Farfan was sent off, the Philly backline responded well to the Goats’ pressure.
Zac MacMath was also steady in net, making five saves to guarantee Philly’s one-goal lead – created by a some first-half brilliance from Michael Farfan and Freddy Adu – held up at The Home Depot Center.
“Chivas really brought it to us and I think we were ready for the fight,” MacMath said. “Obviously going down two guys was tough in the last 15-20 minutes but I’m proud of the guys. … We stayed together as a team, communicated and worked really hard.”
Now, after giving up six goals in their first three games, the suddenly stingy Union have improved to 2-3-1 on the season on the strength of their defense.
“At the beginning of the season for a couple of weeks, it wasn’t pretty,” Nowak said. “But right now it looks we found a good recipe to be hard to play against.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.