Houston, TX (March 19, 2011) – After struggling to a 2-12-1 mark on the road as an expansion club, Philadelphia Union opened their second season with a 1-0 victory in Houston on Saturday. Danny Califf slotted home a loose ball in the area in the opening minutes, and the Union were able to hold the Dynamo scoreless the rest of the way after posting only two shutouts all of last season.
The Union didn’t wait long to open up their 2011 account. In the fifth minute, defender Sheanon Williams launched a throw-in from the right touchline into the middle of the area. Sebastien Le Toux settled the ball and struck woodwork before Califf latched onto the rebound, knocking home Philadelphia’s first goal of the season for a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later, Houston had two opportunities to equalize off of Brad Davis crosses from the left flank. The Union were able to clear danger on both occasions, including a diving header from Califf on the latter of the two. Geoff Cameron had another opportunity for Houston in the 17th minute, but his one-timer from distance was blocked.
Both sides were unable to capitalize for the remainder of the first half, but it took a close-range save from goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon early in the second half to keep the Dynamo off the board. In the 49th minute, rookie forward Will Bruin unleashed an angled attempt from 14 yards out, setting up the newly appointed Union captain to parry it away from danger.
The Union had a chance of their own in the 56th minute when Justin Mapp was sent free along the right flank. The 26-year-old midfielder cut into the middle and fired from within the area, but Houston ‘keeper Tally Hall did well to deflect it away.
Houston’s best chance of the night came in the 68th minute after Cameron sprung Davis free along the left side of Philadelphia's box. Davis sent a cross into the middle to second half substitute Dominic Oduro, who had a wide open net in front of him. Instead of finishing, however, the Ghanaian striker knocked a sitter over the crossbar with his right foot from the edge of the six yard box.
The Union were able to prevent Houston from finding a late equalizer by slowing the pace down, generating a few chances of their own in the process. Both Carlos Ruiz and Le Toux had goal scoring opportunities within Houston's box, but neither were able to get a clean shot off for an insurance goal.
Philadelphia didn't need one, though, withstanding 14 shots and eight corner kicks to earn three points heading into the first-ever home opener at PPL Park. The Union will head back to Philadelphia to host the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps – who are fresh off a 4-2 victory against Toronto FC – on Saturday, March 26 at 4:00pm.
PHI - Danny Califf 1 (unassisted) 5'
Philadelphia Union -- Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Jordan Harvey, Kyle Nakazawa (Gabriel Farfan 69), Brian Carroll, Stefani Miglioranzi, Justin Mapp (Danny Mwanga 58), Carlos Ruiz (Amobi Okugo 85), Sebastien Le Toux.
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Agorsor, Jack McInerney, Roger Torres, Zac MacMath.
TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Sebastien Le Toux 2, Justin Mapp 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Justin Mapp 2); FOULS: 13 (4 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Justin Mapp 1); SAVES: 3 (Faryd Mondragon 3)
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Hunter Freeman (Danny Cruz 71), Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor, Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe, Geoff Cameron, Lovel Palmer, Brad Davis, Jason Garey (Cam Weaver 57), Will Bruin (Dominic Oduro 61).
Substitutes Not Used: Mike Chabala, Eddie Robinson, Kofi Sarkodie, Tyler Deric.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Brad Davis 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 9 (Brad Davis 2); OFFSIDES: 1 (Geoff Cameron 1); CORNER KICKS: 8 (Brad Davis 8); SAVES: 3 (Tally Hall 3)
PHI -- Carlos Ruiz (caution; Reckless Foul) 20
HOU -- Brad Davis (caution; Reckless Tackle) 22
PHI -- Carlos Valdes (caution; Reckless Tackle) 44
Referee: Abiodun Okulaja
Referee's Assistants: -Chris Strickland; Adam Garner
4th Official: Andrew Chapin
Time of Game: 1:51