Eight games without a win sure seemed like an eternity for the Philadelphia Union.
Equally disturbing was their offensive struggles in which the team scored only four goals over those eight games, none by a forward.
Those dubious streaks ended Sunday at PPL Park thanks to a 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo before 17,666 on a beautiful fall day. The Union made a few changes from Thursday's loss against D.C. United, and all of the changes paid off -- starting with a change in formation. In the first 16 games under manager John Hackworth the team played in a 4-3-3 formation. Designed to be more offensive minded, the 4-3-3 had bogged down to a point where a change was in order.
The 4-4-2 implemented against Houston brought more structure into the team and allowed Freddy Adu to play closer to the opponents goal. It gave the team two hustling wide midfielders in Michael Farfan and Danny Cruz, while allowing Brian Carroll to have more defensive support in the form of Michael Lahoud. This group really nullified the talented Houston midfield, making the Dynamo look more like a playoff pretender than a playoff contender.
Another change forced by the Gabe Farfan ankle injury saw Sheanon Williams move to the left back spot with Raymon Gaddis taking over on the right side. Sheanon didn't seem to miss a beat with his shift to the left while Gaddis continues to impress when given the call to the starting 11. Gaddis shows a lot of confidence for a rookie. His speed was an asset to the team both in the attack and defending.
Despite a 3-1 scoreline this was not an easy win for the Union, or their coaching staff. Hackworth had to make one substitution for an injured Freddy Adu, who suffered a mild quad strain and then had to replace his replacement Keon Daniel. In Daniel's case, he suffered what was later determined as a knee contusion after about nine minutes of work.
However, there were so many bright spots for the Union on Sunday, too numerous to mention, so let's highlight a few:
A two goal performance by Freddy Adu again shows the tremendous potential of this 23-year-old attacker. It was unfortunate that he could not continue after converting on his penalty kick. (in three years, the Union are 11-11 on penalty kicks). Josue Martinez had three shots, with two of them on target as he scored his first MLS goal. He could have had two on the day were it not for a brilliant first half foot save from Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall.
The team showed character after giving up a game tying goal in the 44th minute, but didn't allow it to get to them. They came out strong in the second half, and were able to take the lead again on the Adu penalty kick conversion.
The Union are idle until Saturday when they take on the Columbus Crew, led by talented attackers Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuain. When the two teams last met at PPL Park, the Crew came away with a 2-1 win.
You can catch the game on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on the Comcast Network, which kicks off with the pregame show at 7 p.m.