Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz
Jack McInerney scored in the 76th minute off a Sebastien Le Toux corner kick to send Philadelphia Union to a 1-0 win Saturday over the New England Revolution at PPL Park.
The Union held 56 percent of the possession in a game marred by wintry weather, as ice cold rain and sleet peppered the players throughout the game. Center back Jeff Parke proved nearly flawless in leading his back line, and goalkeeper Zac MacMath stopped New England forward Jerry Bengston’s point blank shot on goal in the 35th minute to lead the Union to their first shutout of the season.
“We grounded it out,” Parke said after the game. “We only gave them one (good) chance, I think, and Zac played a hell of a game and came up big with the save. So it’s one of those games that doesn’t look pretty, but we got the three points that they couldn’t get. Later in the season, we could be looking back at this game and saying this was important.”
Philadelphia improved to 2-1 with the win, good enough for second place in the Eastern Conference.
“We probably didn’t play the prettiest of soccer, but in those conditions, we found a way to win,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “Especially putting a lot of pressure on them in the second half, (it) just felt like (a goal) was going to come. It finally did.”
The Union opened the match in a 4-1-3-2, with a midfield comprised of Keon Daniel in the middle, Michael Farfan on the left flank, Danny Cruz on the right, and Brian Carroll in the holding role.
That lasted barely seven minutes, however. Cruz, who broke his nose last week against Colorado, took a free kick to the head while leaping as part of the defensive wall. Cruz went down and had to leave the game — over his own objections, according to Hackworth. Michael Lahoud replaced Cruz on the right flank, as midfielders Roger Torres and Leo Fernandes went unused on the substitutes bench. (Gabriel Farfan and Conor Casey did not make the bench due to injuries.)
The first half played out in occasionally chippy fashion, as both teams slowly felt each other out.
The Union’s best attacking moments were typically failed through balls from Michael Farfan, who saw opportunities but could not connect with his teammates on them. Lahoud came closest to net when he blasted a 34th minute volley just wide left.
New England had the better chances, largely thanks to New England attacking midfielder Juan Toja winning some questionable fouls just outside the penalty area. In the game’s first minutes, he and Union left back Ray Gaddis appeared to tangle their legs, and Toja went down and won the foul on a play that could have been a no-call. Then in the 42nd minute, Tojo twisted and fell while trying to dribble past Union center back Amobi Okugo just outside the box. Referee Juan Carlos Rivero called Okugo for the foul and booked for him a yellow card, but replays showed no contact between the players.
Regardless, New England’s Lee Nguyen could not capitalize on the free kicks, and the two sides entered halftime scoreless.
The early second half played out similarly to the first, with a slow buildup and nothing coming to fruition for either side. New England’s halftime substitution of Andy Dorman for Clyde Simms added little to the Revolution’s attack. The team seemed to miss defensive midfielder Kalifa Cisse, who missed the match after impressing last week in his team’s win over Chicago.
It wasn’t until the 67th minute, when Antoine Hoppenot replaced Farfan, that the Union attack gained some punch. Hackworth shifted his team’s formation to a 4-3-3, with McInerney deployed centrally and Hoppenot and Le Toux on the wings. Lahoud slid next to Brian Carroll at the base of a three-man midfield triangle, while Daniel maintain his central advanced role.
Hoppenot took to the attack, running at the New England back line and causing them all sorts of problems on the flanks. In the 74th minute, Lahoud created space and put a blast on goal that New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth deflected just barely above the crossbar.
Moments later, the Union forced a 75th minute corner kick that Le Toux dropped perfectly in front of net. McInerney headed on goal, and goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth stopped it. But the rebound bounced to McInerney, and he tapped it in for the winner.
“They weren’t ideal situations, but good teams find a way to win, and hopefully that’s what we’re becoming,” McInerney said.
The Union are off this week in league play but have a friendly against Mexican side Pumas next Saturday at PPL Park.
MacMath, Williams, Parke, Gaddis, Okugo, Daniel, M. Farfan (Hoppenot, 67’), Carroll, Cruz (Lahoud, 8’), McInerney (Albright, 87’), Le Toux
New England Revolution
Shuttleworth, Soares, Farrell, Goncalves, Alston (Barrett, 79’), Caldwell, Nguyen, Rowe, Simms (Dorman, 45’), Toja (Tierney, 79’), Bengtson
27′—NE—A.J. Soares (Foul)
42′—PHI—Amobi Okugo (Foul)
84′—NE—Bobby Shuttleworth (Dissent)
92′—PHI—Jeff Parke (Foul)
Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
|Philadelphia Union||New England Revolution|
|9||Attempts on Goal||11|
|4||Shots on Target||2|
|3||Shots off Target||6|
|21||Open Play Crosses||8|
|2||First Yellow Cards||2|
|0||Second Yellow Cards||0|
|47%||Duels Won %||52%|
|76%||Passing Accuracy %||68%|