CARSON, Calif. – During the Philadelphia Union’s last few training sessions, defender Sheanon Williams has watched striker Jack McInerney try to score on backheels.
He wasn’t exactly impressed.
“It was looking kind of weak in practice,” Williams told MLSsoccer.com with a smile.
Turns out, McInerney was just waiting for when it counted.
Wednesday at the Home Depot Center, McInerney scored on a crafty backheel after a great move and cross from midfielder Michael Farfan late in the first half.
HIGHLIGHTS: LA vs PHI
Farfan then added a goal of his own in stoppage time of the second half – which followed a cheeky backheel pass from Lionard Pajoy – to propel the Union to a dramatic 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy.
The two goals were perhaps the Union’s two best of the season.
“Both were special,” Williams said. “And I hope to vote for both of them for goal of the week.”
The individual pieces of brilliance were critical for a Union team that was playing the second game of a grueling two-game road swing and were outplayed by the Galaxy for much of the night.
But Philly used some desperate goal-line defending and a huge game from ’keeper Zac MacMath to stay in the match before going into the locker room with a 1-0 lead thanks to McInerney, who has now scored three goals in the past three games.
Did he know all along he would hit the ball backwards with the heel of his foot while being draped by a defender in the box?
“I mean, it’s something that comes to you in the moment,” McInerney said. “That’s the only way I could have finished that opportunity.”
After the Galaxy came back to tie it up at 1-1, it looked like the game would end in a draw – until the Union used the power of the backheel once again.
This time, Pajoy used the technique to split a pair of defenders and send Farfan free on goal. Farfan’s carefully placed finish then gave the Union their first-ever win over the Galaxy.
“I saw Pajoy had two guys on him and I kind of saw him getting ready to split them, so I made a run and had space in front of me,” Farfan said. “I figured I’d take a step to the left and play it back post. Fortunately it ended up working out.”
Since Farfan created one goal and scored the other goal, it only made sense to ask him which one he thought was better. While other players on the team said both were equally impressive, Farfan humbly gave the nod to McInerney.
“I really liked Jack’s,” Farfan said. “He’s a really good player and shows us in practice what he can do. To see it on the game field isn’t really a surprise to any of us.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.