With two important friendlies looming against Everton and Real Madrid, the Union needed a strong showing Sunday night against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium.
They got it — in a big way.
In arguably their finest 90 minutes all season, the Union strung together an impressive 3-0 victory over the scuffling Revolution, who have now gone winless in nine straight.
"One of our objectives tonight, in our talk before the game, was to get those three points, so we can get to the top of the table and create some distance between us and New York,” said Union defender Carlos Valdes. “We finally did that, I scored a goal, we got a win, and we got a shutout. I couldn't have asked for anything better than that."
"Playing away is always difficult,” Ruiz said. “You don't easily find the rhythm of the game, but it was good for us, we played our game, we had the possession. We didn't run up and down like in other games. We were smart in our running, and had the possession."
Having New England’s Benny Feilhaber sent off in the 66th minute after a second yellow card added to the Union’s advantage.
Tie it all together and the Union earned a convincing road victory that has the club back in first place in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia have only lost once in their last 10 MLS matches (4-1-5).
"It feels great,” said Danny Mwanga. “It tells you that you're moving forward. But at the same time, being at the top a lot of people are going to try to come after you, trying to make a statement. We just have to keep playing hard and try to stay on top."
"I think it's great, but we've been there the whole time,” defender Danny Califf added. “New York has been listed ahead of us [at times], even though, head to head, we beat them. In our minds, we've been there the whole time. But it's nice though to put some points between us, knowing we have two games in hand as well."
Notes from the match:
-- The Union are unbeaten in their last five MLS matches, the longest streak in club history.
-- The Union won their third road match this season, already surpassing last year’s total of two.
-- Philadelphia captured their first three-match road unbeaten streak in club history.
-- The Union equaled last season’s win total of eight and points total of 31.
-- Goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon registered his seventh shutout of the season and second in a row.
-- Valdes and Sheanon Williams each scored their first career MLS goal in the match.
-- Carlos Ruiz notched his club-best sixth goal of the season and 88th career goal in MLS.
-- Sebastien Le Toux registered his seventh assist of the season, tied for third in MLS behind only David Beckham and Brad Davis.