CHESTER, Pa. – Sunday afternoon at PPL Park, the Union used goals from Gabriel Gómez, Freddy Adu and Antoine Hoppenot to dismantle last-place Toronto, 3-0, in front of 18,393 charged-up fans.
The win was the second straight for interim manager John Hackworth’s club, who were coming off a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday.
Toronto (2-11-4) – under the direction of Paul Mariner, who took over as head coach on June 7 – saw their five-game unbeaten streak come to an end and now fall deeper into last place in the Eastern Conference standings. The Union (5-9-2) remain in ninth place, ahead of only Toronto, but move closer to the middle of the pack with a few games in hand.
The game’s first goal came in the 34th minute after Jack McInerney chased down a long ball from Michael Farfan along the right side and found an open Gabriel Gómez in the box. Gómez’s classy finish snuck inside the post and it would be all the Union would need. It was the fifth league goal for Gómez, the club’s leading scorer.
Just two minutes later, the hosts struck again when Gabriel Farfan’s through ball set up Adu, whose left-footed blast gave the Union a two-goal advantage.
Adu, McInerney, Farfan and the rest of the Union offense had been knocking on the door well before their two-goal barrage. In the 13th minute, Adu made a couple of terrific moves in the box but had two consecutive shots blocked by Toronto defenders. Later, Adu flicked a ball around Toronto’s Jeremy Hall, before serving an excellent cross to Lionard Pajoy, whose header went over the net.
Some first-half stats showed the Union’s domination: they controlled 70.7 percent of the possession, had 87.7 percent passing accuracy and made 11 attempts on goal.
Meanwhile, Toronto’s first shot on target didn’t come until the 51st minute, on a header from forward Danny Koevermans. In the 68th minute, Koevermans attempted a bicycle kick that sailed high.
Hoppenot, who has emerged as the Union’s most dangerous offensive weapon off the bench, padded the Union’s lead in the 78th minute after getting sprung free on a through pass from Michael Farfan and blasting one by Toronto goalkeeper Milos Kokic.
In the 82nd minute, Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath secured the shutout with a big save on Ryan Johnson and then defender Sheanon Williams followed that up with a header off the goal line on a Koevermans scissor kick.
The Union return to action with a US Open Cup home semifinal matchup against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET) at PPL Park.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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