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Match report: Union 2-1 Fire

Last year it was the shutout. This year it was two goals in a game.

Carlos Ruiz got this year’s monkey off the Union’s back with one memorable strike on Saturday night.

Michael Farfan put the Union on top in the 64th minute, but it took less than four minutes for the Fire to equalize through Dom Oduro. With the team desperately in need of three points and again looking short on magic, Carlos Ruiz waved his left foot and blasted a 35-yard half volley against the underside of the crossbar and into the River End net.

The Union lost Amobi Okugo to injury in the first minute of play. A high left ankle sprain forced the midfielder off the field after only a few seconds had passed.

Kyle Nakazawa came on and joined Michael Farfan in setting an aggressive tone throughout the Philadelphia midfield. Exceptional defensive performances from the center backs supported a strong half that saw at least three prime scoring chances missed.

Michael Farfan dropped a beauty of a cross onto Carlos Ruiz as he created space for himself in the box. All Ruiz had to do was put his volley on net and start his celebration. The scuffed shot ended up getting much closer to the fans than Ruiz has this year.

Farfan himself broke through when Justin Mapp’s throw in put him clear. He hit a low spinner towards the back post that just failed to curl in.

Later it was Ruiz again. This time the Union’s leading scorer brought down a bouncer and turned his man, but his extra touch resulted in a deflected shot that goalie Jon Conway pushed wide of the post.

In the second half, the Union started to open up the game even more through Justin Mapp and an aggressive defense that turned Chicago’s game plan into kick and run. In the 52nd, Le Toux broke on the left and put in a low cross for Nakazawa. Marco Pappa tracked back well to make the shot a tame one.

But, as in the first thirty of the Dallas match, the Union looked like a team with a plan. Michael Farfan was in brilliant form and he started a sequence that ended with Le Toux catching the post from three yards out on a tight angle.

The Union have rarely turned good form into good finishing, but Michael Farfan did just that in the 64th. After substitute Torres won a foul on the left, Nakzawa played a grounder back to Farfan twenty-five out. The rookie fired a low liner that tapped Cory Gibbs thigh and nestled behind Jon Conway.

Three minutes later the park went silent when Dom Oduro beat Farfan – now at outside back – down the wing and blasted a bad angle shot past Mondragon.

Now the Union needed a second goal to get the three points they craved. Ruiz hit a weak free kick from thirty out that rebounded into the center of the field. The striker was first to react and his choice of a forty yard volley caused a sharp intake of breath around Philadelphia. Dipping, dipping, dipping, with the Sons of Ben begging gravity to work harder, the ball slapped the underside of the bar and set the fans off like fireworks.

The Union held off a late Chicago rally and put pressure on New York in their tough road match at Houston.


  1. An amazing goal … not sure if the audacity to even take that shot makes him an asshole or a hero.

    • an asshole. but a goalscoring asshole.

    • An asshole? some fans do not know anything about this game. In an interview he said “that was the only play possible for me”. He tried and he scored. Sometimes those plays go to the stands and SOMETIMES go in. This time thin one went in. Stop finding reason to hate players.

      • You make it out like being an asshole is a bad thing. You know what he could have done other than shoot? Pass. Strikers are greedy and his greed led to him taking such a wild, ridiculous shot with his non-dominant foot. Not hating but it was completely selfish. He took a crazy, low percentage shot and got lucky. It’s a beautiful thing. We win!

      • And speaking of assholes, don’t say “some fans do not know anything about this game”. makes you look like one.

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