It was just a matter of time.
The Philadelphia Union kept pushing, continued to attack and finally broke through when Conor Casey scored in the 55th minute, lifting them to a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC before a crowd of 15,238 Wednesday night at PPL Park.
Sebastien Le Toux hustled down the sidelines and sent a perfect cross to Casey, who notched his seventh goal of the season.
“He played a great ball across,” Casey said of Le Toux. “I stuck my foot out and it went in.”
Goalkeeper Zac MacMath started in place of Rais Mbolhi and registered a clean sheet, the Union’s first shutout since a 3-0 victory at Chivas USA on May 31. Mbolhi starred for Algeria in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and he was called up for international duty once again.
The Union improved to 8-9-9 (33 points) and moved into a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with Toronto FC (9-10-7) and the Columbus Crew (8-9-9).
“Good teams win 1-0 games,” Union interim manager Jim Curtin said. “That’s what we did tonight.”
Philadelphia played an aggressive style and accumulated six corner kicks in the first half alone and 10 overall.
In the 53rd minute, Cristian Maidana’s corner went right to Amobi Okugo and his header was saved at the last second by Joe Bendik.
Two minutes later, Le Toux registered his sixth assist and it was enough to propel the Union to three huge points.
“I’m happy first that we got the win and three points,” Le Toux said. “We need as many points as possible at this part of the season. It was important to win here at home and make this a hard place to play.”
Toronto FC is a hard club to prepare for because of its defensive-minded style.
In the 77th minute, Ashtone Morgan took down Le Toux outside the box and received a red card, leaving Toronto FC with 10 men for the rest of the match. Le Toux nearly capitalized on his free kick.
In the end, the one goal was sufficient to garner the huge victory. And the players proved their mettle to Curtin.
“I have men,” Curtin said. “They’re playing like men. They’re learning to win.”
The Union won without a number of players called up for international play, including Mbolhi, defender Carlos Valdes (Colombia) and midfielder Michael Lahoud (Sierra Leone).
“We have a deep club and we’re a confident club,” said defender Sheanon Williams. “We’re even-keeled and staying the course with each game. In this league, you can’t get too high or too low. We’ve continued to put in the work, stayed the course and we’re in a good position down the stretch to make things happen.”
Following this victory, the Union don’t have much time to rest with the back end of this home-and-home series looming Saturday afternoon against Toronto FC.
“It’s definitely different playing them twice in a short amount of time,” Williams said. “We have work to do and we know how big this game is on Saturday. We understand what’s at stake.”
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Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org