Valdes vs. Crew
Greg Carroccio

Union secure "extremely important" first win of 2012

CHESTER, Pa. - It wasn’t a dominant offensive display, but the result is what ultimately counts.

Philadelphia Union picked up three points on Saturday, blanking the Columbus Crew 1-0 for the team’s first win of the season.
“I think it was extremely important for those guys in the locker room to have this feeling and get those three points,” team manager Peter Nowak told reporters after the game. “I thought it was deserved a long time ago, but I thought today they did especially well. Having that second straight shutout, I think we didn’t really allow many shots on goal. So from that perspective it was good. We created some chances in the first half and if we were more direct and a bit better with the ball we would have created chances in the second half as well.”
Saturday’s match at a sold out PPL Park was a choppy affair with 30 combined fouls and six yellow cards. Philadelphia managed just two shots on goal but held Columbus to only one shot on frame.
The Union defense, which featured rookie Ray Gaddis filling in for late scratch Danny Califf (hamstring), earned back to back shutouts for the first time since September of 2011.
“It feels really good,” said Union defender Sheanon Williams, who filled in at center half in Califf’s absence. “I’m happy for all of the guys and I’m especially proud of the defense. (I was) playing a little bit out of position at center back where I haven’t played much, and Ray came in for his first game. Carlos and Gabe (played well) too. It was a team effort. We did a good job defensively limiting their chances.”
“I think it’s just good to get it under our belts,” added midfielder Brian Carroll. “I thought we played a little bit better today. We created a few more opportunities. Fact is, we just won 1-0. But I was happy we kept a clean sheet. Now we just have to learn what we did well in this game and try to build upon that for the next game.”
The Union went ahead on Gabriel Gomez’s 38th minute penalty kick after a cross from Freddy Adu struck defender Eric Gehrig’s arm and referee Michael Kennedy pointed to the spot.
Gomez converted on a cheeky chip shot and the Union defense held tight for the rest of the game.
“A win is a win,” said Nowak. “Around the 60th or 65th minute, we had a feeling that we needed to hold on. But (the win) is very important for their confidence. They start to see the work pay off and they want to keep going.”
“It just allows us to take a breath and say ‘okay, let’s look at what we did to earn one victory,'” Carroll said. “Now we have to work hard and take the positives out of this one. (We need to) learn from the things we could have done better, such as keeping the ball a bit better in their half towards the end of the game, and maybe getting another goal through the run of play and making them chase. But I’m just glad we got the win and kept that zero.”