It took a wonder strike from distance for the Philadelphia Union to do what they had been waiting all season to do: score twice in the same game. And it was one of Major League Soccer’s all-time great scorers who accomplished the feat.
Led by a brilliant second-half goal from striker Carlos Ruiz, the offensively starved Union held off the Chicago Fire, 2-1, in a wild Saturday night affair at PPL Park.
What started off a slow game turned into an offensive showcase, capped by Ruiz’s second-half goal in the 76th minute. After Ruiz’s free kick was blocked, the Guatemalan striker chased down the deflection and blasted a high-arching shot from about 30 yards out. The ball sailed over Chicago goalie Jon Conway’s head, hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced straight down, across the goal line.
That goal was the 85th of Carlos Ruiz’s MLS career and second of the season. Earlier in the half, Union rookie Michael Farfan netted his first.
Farfan, who showed his versatility by playing right midfield, central midfield and left back during the course of the match, scored in the 64th minute when he took a free-kick pass from Kyle Nakazawa and struck a low, driving shot through traffic that deflected past Conway.
Just four minutes later, however, Farfan came back down to earth when he was beaten by Chicago striker Dominic Oduro, who snuck it past Union ’keeper Faryd Mondragón to tie the game at 1-1.
The goal was sweet revenge for Oduro, who, while with Houston, missed a sitter that would have tied the game against Philly in the Dynamo’s season opener. Oduro, who also had the Fire’s first shot on net Saturday, was traded to Chicago shortly after that season-opening game.
Conway, who went to nearby Sun Valley High School and was playing in his home county for just the second time as a professional, looked to be in control before Philly’s second-half onslaught. Conway’s best save came in the 37th minute when Ruiz drove a low shot that Conway sprawled to knock away.
Ruiz had another strong chance just a minute earlier when Farfan bent a beautiful cross that Ruiz one-timed toward the net but missed. Earlier, Farfan had a good look when Union midfielder Justin Mapp, playing against his former team, made a quick throw-in into the box that the rookie chased down and shot just wide.
In the second half, as the game began to open up, Union striker Sebastien Le Toux hit the post after pulling down a ball from the air right in front of Conway, turning and offering a quick shot that struck the base of the right post.
The Fire had plenty of chances themselves in the second half, especially in the 71st minute when substitute Gaston Puerari found himself in alone on net. Puerari’s shot, however, was blocked off the line by Union defender Sheanon Williams.
With the loss, Chicago drops to 1-4-5 on the season. They have not won a league match since March 26.
The Union – who had scored just six goals through nine league games before Saturday – move to 5-3-2, but injuries could begin to become a concern for Philly. With second-year striker Danny Mwanga (left hamstring) and veteran midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi (right groin) already out, starting midfielder Amobi Okugo was forced to leave the match after just five minutes with what was later diagnosed as a high ankle sprain.
The Union next head north of the border to take on Toronto FC on Saturday at BMO Field, while the Fire have two consecutive games against the San Jose Earthquakes – the first one on Tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup and then in league play next Saturday.
PHI -- Michael Farfan 1 (Kyle Nakazawa 1) 64
CHI -- Dominic Oduro 2 (Gonzalo Segares 2) 68
PHI -- Carlos Ruiz 3 (unassisted) 74
Chicago Fire-- Jon Conway, Yamith Cuesta, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares, Bratislav Ristic, Daniel Paladini, Corben Bone (Logan Pause 60), Baggio Husidic (Gaston Puerari 61), Marco Pappa, Dominic Oduro, Diego Chaves (Orr Barouch 46).
Substitutes Not Used: Jalil Anibaba, Cristian Nazarit, Dasan Robinson, Sean Johnson.
Philadelphia Union -- Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Jordan Harvey (Roger Torres 58), Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan, Amobi Okugo (Kyle Nakazawa 5), Justin Mapp, Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz (Gabriel Farfan 80).
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Agorsor, Keon Daniel, Jack McInerney, Zac MacMath.
CHI -- Bratislav Ristic (caution; Reckless Foul) 30
PHI -- Danny Califf (caution; Reckless Tackle) 41
PHI -- Jordan Harvey (caution; Dissent) 54
CHI -- Dominic Oduro (caution; Reckless Foul) 59
CHI -- Daniel Paladini (caution; Reckless Tackle) 72
CHI -- Gaston Puerari (caution; Reckless Foul) 92+
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee's Assistants: Bill Dittmar, Paul Scott
4th Official: Daniel Fitzgerald
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Cloudy and 73 degrees