Conor Casey has always been clutch against Chivas USA.
Over the course of his eight-year career in Major League Soccer, Casey has nabbed six goals against the Goats. On Saturday night in California, Casey added two more as his brace and a second half goal from Cristian Maidana forged a 3-0 win over Chivas, ending a weeklong trip to California for Philadelphia on a high note.
It was Casey who got the night going in the 28th minute, after a Chivas handball in the box off a restart found Casey step up to the spot and score his first goal of the season, blasting a rocket past Goats goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. In the second half, a ball into Chivas’ 18-yard-box from Maidana found the head of an onrushing Casey to make it two. Maidana also closed the affair in the 78th minute when he made a run into the box off a ball from midfielder Vincent Nogueira, cut into the middle and firmly placed his shot just past Kennedy’s outstretched arms.
“We were able to find ourselves in some good spots and although we didn’t always pull off the play, we were trying to just get balls into the box which is important,” Casey said postgame. “We’ve played against some tough opponents this year and this [was] a game that we definitely wanted to win. Hopefully we’ll be able to take the confidence from this week and use it to follow up with getting points at home.”
As result of the three points, the Union (3-7-5, 14 points) improves to 5-0-2 all-time as the club has never lost to Chivas (2-6-4, 10 points) in its five-year history. The Goats didn’t do itself any favors however, routinely giving up restarts to the Union and forcing referee Allan Chapman to reach into his pocket four times to pull out a card for Chivas. In the 83rd minute, Osvaldo Minda was ejected from the match, dropping Chivas down to 10 men for the sixth time this season. It was an ejection that further secured three points and saw things go from bad to worse for the Goats which dropped their fifth straight loss at home.
The stats portray a good night for the Union, who held the edge in shots on target (6-1), final third entries (118-82) and a lopsided 63 percent of the possession throughout the contest.
“We tried to emphasize that we needed to be better defensively,” said Union manager John Hackworth postgame. “We feel like we are a team that can play…tonight we felt like we really needed to keep a zero [on the Chivas side of the scoreboard] and the longer we did that we gave ourselves a chance. Our performances all year have been better than our results show, but you have to get these results in order to get that confidence.”
As for the Union, it hopes a much improved defensive effort and string midfield play – primarily from the insertion of Fred into the starting lineup – will continue as the Union look to close out on a high before the League takes a hiatus during play of the upcoming FIFA World Cup. Before that happens, the Union will host Vancouver next Saturday, June 7 (7 p.m., purchase tickets ) it’s third Western Conference opponent in as many games.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve felt like this,” Fred who earned his first MLS start since June 11, 2011 told reporters after the win. “We got three points from playing well and we feel confidence now. Now we just need to stick together and try to get these three points at home so we can go into the break feeling good and confident about the second half of the season once we come back from this break.”
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Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at email@example.com