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Match report: Union 2-1 Galaxy

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9rvFGVqOaw[/youtube]

Philadelphia Union pulled off the ultimate smash and grab Wednesday night, scoring a goal at the end of each half to shock the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 for the win.

The hosts controlled the match for the duration, but Jack McInerney and Michael Farfan both found the back of the net to earn John Hackworth his first road victory as Union manager.

After frantic work from Zac MacMath and the Union defense kept Robbie Keane and the Galaxy from finishing a handful of gilt-edged chances in the match’s first quarter, Jack McInerney sent the Union to the break up a goal. After beating David Lopes to the endline, Michael Farfan’s low cross found McInerney streaking across the box, and his subtle backheel flick nestled itself inside of Josh Saunders’ far post.

The Galaxy were again the better side in the second half, and substitute Chad Barrett finally found an equalizer in the 73rd minute. But in extra time, it was the Union who had the final say when Lionard Pajoy played the perfect backheel into Farfan’s path, allowing him the time to shape and curl the ball beyond Saunders, firing the Union to an unexpected victory.

First Half

Following Saturday’s disappointing loss in Houston, John Hackworth again shuffled his lineup, making three changes to the side that lost 2-1 to the Dynamo. McInerney returned from illness in place of Pajoy, Freddy Adu rejoined the starting XI for Jorge Perlaza, and Michael Lahoud replaced Gabriel Gomez.

While the formation remained a 4-3-3 on paper, it looked as if Hackworth would try to stifle the potent Los Angeles attack by dropping Adu and Keon Daniel into the midfield to create more opportunities for possession, while limiting the space into which the Galaxy could attack.

No matter the Union’s intentions, the Galaxy snatched control of the match early, ripping through the heart of the Union midfield and defense in the opening minutes.

Five minutes from kickoff, Robbie Keane bulldozed his way through the combination of Amobi Okugo and Sheanon Williams. Fortunately for the Union, Zac MacMath pushed Keane wide enough that his finish could be cleared off the line by a recovering Carlos Valdes.

A minute later, Brian Carroll turned the ball over in midfield, allowing Landon Donovan to spring Hector Jimenez, whose fierce blast was parried to safety by a diving MacMath.

With Carroll and Michael Lahoud overrun in the center of midfield, LA was coming at the Union defense in full flight, and Robbie Keane again got in behind on 11 minutes. Now he put power behind his shot, but once again a Union player, this time Gabriel Farfan, was on the line to clear the danger.

It seemed only a matter of time before the dam would break when Carlos Valdes went into the book, having turned the ball over in midfield before hacking down Landon Donovan to stop the resulting break.

Keane then had a third chance alone on MacMath when he slipped behind Valdes, but the Union keeper denied the Irish international from close range, miraculously keeping a clean sheet despite the torrent of Los Angeles pressure.

When the Union did manage to push forward, McInerney was working hardest to make himself available from touchline to touchline. With Adu anonymous and Daniel playing deeper in the midfield, McInerney’s holdup play was the only relief available for the Union as the half neared conclusion.

But the Galaxy were still on the front foot. Timely interventions from Okugo and MacMath were required as LA laid siege to the Union box, both in the air and straight through the midfield.

Just before the half, however, the Union managed to sneak into the lead well against the run of play. Moments after Valdes blazed a free header over Saunders’ bar, the Union found the breakthrough that LA could not.

Having pulled the lumbering David Lopes to the right touchline, Michael Farfan attacked on the dribble, shaking the defender enough to create separation as he darted towards the endline. Spotting the streaking figure of McInerney, Farfan’s low cross found the Union striker whose artistic flick tucked the slow rolling ball beyond the scrambling Saunders.

Second Half

More confident playing with a lead, the Union began the second half with the ball as they looked to control the game and the clock. But when early possession failed to yield goal-scoring chances, the Galaxy began to build back into the dominant side of the first half.

With the defense scrambling to cover the attacking runs of Hector Jimenez and Landon Donovan, turnovers from Adu and Lahoud added to the task of defending the lead. To increase their offensive pressure, LA brought on Chad Barrett for Jimenez, and the substitution nearly paid off immediately.

In the 60th minute, Barrett flicked on Donovan’s corner kick at the front post. Ghosting in at the back, defender Todd Dunivant teed up Lopes, who smashed his shot off the crossbar from close range.

Gabriel Gomez then entered the match as the Union looked to batten down the hatches. His calming influence allowed the Union a brief respite, with the Panamanian international settling play and spreading the field. Still strong despite beating a lonely path in the first half, McInerney showed up all over the pitch to help the cause, looking to find his teammates with his back to goal.

The Union’s resistance would be only temporary, however, and Landon Donovan continued to drive unchecked at the Union defense. In the 70th minute, after going to ground looking for a call against Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo took out Donovan’s legs to earn a caution, while MacMath again had to be sharp, getting down to his left to smother another shot on goal.

In the 73rd minute, the Galaxy finally found their equalizer. From a corner, Okugo could only head his clearance as far as Donovan outside of the box. Donovan sent Mike Magee up the left flank, and Keane dummied Magee’s low service on, allowing Barrett to slip in and poke home for Los Angeles. It was a goal that had been coming for the Galaxy and set up a tense final quarter of an hour.

With Antoine Hoppenot already on the pitch, Hackworth inserted Pajoy into the lineup as the Union looked to press forward, seeking either a match-winner, or at the very least, a pressure release.

Minutes later, Hoppenot nearly put the Union back in front when he beat DeLaGarza to the ball and raced in on Saunders. With only the keeper to beat, his final touch took him too close, allowing Saunders to cut down the angle and save with his legs.

As the final minutes of regular time wore off the clock, Donovan was again the chief antagonist when he won a dangerous free kick off of Gabriel Farfan, despite elbowing the Union left back squarely in the face. With the Union keeping their numbers behind the ball, however, the Galaxy failed to create any clear scoring chances, and the match looked destined for a draw.

But in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Michael Farfan would provide the heroics for the Union. When Pajoy’s seeing-eye backheel split two defenders, Farfan went one on one with DeLaGarza. Cutting into the field on his right foot, Farfan created space for himself and gently curled his finish past the defender and a diving Saunders to win the match for the Union.

Philadelphia Union

Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan; Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud (Gabriel Gomez ’61), Michael Farfan; Freddy Adu (Antoine Hoppenot ’71), Jack McInerney, Keon Daniel(Lionard Pajoy ’75)

Unused Substitutes: Chris Konopka, Chris Albright, Raymon Gaddis, Roger Torres

Los Angeles Galaxy

Josh Saunders; AJ DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez (Sean Franklin ’46), David Junior Lopes, Todd Dunivant; Hector Jimenez (Chad Barrett ’60), Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas, Mike Magee; Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane

Unused Substitutes: Brian Perk, Bryan Jordan, Michael Stephens, Bryan Gaul, Tommy Meyer

Scoring Summary

45 – PHI: McInerney (M. Farfan)

73 – LAG: Barrett (Magee)

90 – PHI: M. Farfan (Pajoy)

Discipline Summary

14 – PHI: Valdes (Caution)

70 – PHI: Okugo (Caution)

78 – PHI: MacMath (Caution)

90 – LAG: DeLaGarza (Caution)

Referee

Armando Villarreal

41 Comments

  1. Return of the Marfan. Terrific moves and cross to set up Jack Mac before the calmest of finishes. Would like to see him in that wing role on a full-time basis.

    Also, Hoppenot is incredible. He creates chances the second he steps on the field. Very impressive in his role.

    Okugo again looked great springing the attack. Would like him to start at Lahoud’s spot if he loses the CB position.

    Great win in a game we didn’t deserve.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    It looks like the major thing we are missing is someone who can sell bogus fouls to the referee. After Pontius and Ching both sold their dives to the ref to cost us two games, Donovan was flopping all over the place in the second half last night and getting call after call.

    • I was dissappointed in Landon Donovan’s simulation on the Gomez “foul.” Speaking of Gomez, he did well last night coming into the second half as a sub. I thought Carol also had a good game, except for the turnover.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I was disappointed in Landon Donovan’s simulation…all night. I was even more disappointed, that he was rewarded for garbage football.

    • I’d rather lose than win a game with a bogus foul that was sold to the ref.

      • Having to watch Landon is one of the worst things about MLS play right now.

      • Donovan’s ability to go the ground was pretty impressive. He not only flops and cries in agony on the ground, he then gets up and yells at the ref. He was just giving it to the ref after he let LA play advantage and get a great shot and then book Okugo for the foul, what did Donovan want there? he got the yellow and a good shot for his team. It was pathetic watching LA flop then get pissed at Jack when he was down with cramps…I mean six minutes of stoppage time? I thought you had to be a knight to get that type of home advantage, too bad it bit LA in the ass.

      • I was watching the feed from LA last night. They reported that they originally had given 5 minutes but LA argued for the 6th so when Marfan scored in the final minute I was “ha! serves you right assholes.”

  3. Well worth the late night and inability to get to sleep, despite the early morning at work. Freddy Adu looked like he was trying too hard to draw the calls that Donovan was drawing the other way; he is indanger of becoming Freddy “Uh, who?” if he doesn’t start playing more of a role on the field. His diving is getting to be more of his primary play than even his aimless dribbling. I was amazed to see time of possession reported at halftime as going the Union’s way; it seemed that they spent the half on their heels, rather than in control of anything. Scrambling defense is exciting, and demonstrates the high energy of this lineup, but is not the way to either a championship or a long term fan base. The supporters will all be dead from the heart attacks that they suffer watching goal line face saves. Lots of fun, but I am looking forward to a couple of games where they show the control of both the flow of the game and their emotions.

  4. “It seemed only a matter of time before the dam would break when another midfield turnover by Michael Farfan forced Carlos Valdes to go into the book after he hacked down Landon Donovan.” << Actually, I think it was Valdez who turned the ball over. He did chew out Marfan after the foul, but it seemed like Valdez's fault.

    • Jeremy L. says:

      +1. Ditto.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        Good catch. He balled out Marfan for failing to get in a good position to receive the outlet pass, but the turnover was entirely of Valdes’ making. Fixed.

  5. James "4-3-3" Forever says:

    I didn’t watch the game, but wow you know it’s a smash and grab when the MLS highlights featured your team twice, for your two goals.
    And Jack Macs goal was ridiculous. Cold blooded. This is the kid Nowak buried on the bench?
    And I am happy Marfan started at wing and played well. That is where he should be.

  6. WilkersonMcLaser says:

    Great comments for one of the most entertaining U games I’ve seen all year.

    +1 in being disappointed in Lando. He’s better than that: act like it. Don’t ruin your USMNT goodwill for a couple of cheap calls like Charlie Davies did (who is apparently moving shortly from Sochaux).

    JackMac was awesome. If he keeps up this rate, fingers crossed, we’re going to be heading into senior USMNT territory. He won’t be stealing Gomez or Altidore’s spot anytime soon, but Gomez is up there in age and the USMNT could use a quick, maniacal attacker like JackMac in their striking corps.

    What to say about Hip-hop? If this kid keeps it up, I can’t imagine he’ll be anything less than the next big thing in MLS/U.S. soccer. He’s phenomenal.

    Freddy Adu is becoming, alas, a waste of space and salary. Ironic that the easily most recognizable player in the Union may also be the most invisible. He could probably hold down a job in one of the lesser European leagues. Sell him before everyone notices how anonymous he’s been.

  7. Very pleased with Zac MacMath. As a keeper who has dealt with concussion issues, trust me when I say that it is very difficult to regain your confidence to be aggressive again. Positioning still needs a bit of work and was a bit but his command of the box has improved dramatically from his rookie year.

    When Soumare is match fit, I would like to see Okugo replace Carroll, I just don’t think Carroll covers enough ground to justify a place in Hack’s system. I’d also much prefer Gomez to Lahoud. Then pick amongst Marfan/Torres/Keon/Jack/Pajoy/Adu to fill the attacking roles based on form.

    Adu is what he is. Whenever the other team is the superior side and bosses possession, he is going to struggle to get involved.

    I co-sign what was said above about Hoppenot, just the absolutely perfect late game sub and downright deadly in the open field and on the counter.

    Ref sure looked like it was his third game. Landon Donovan MF’ed him on more than a few occasions and he would just smile and laugh, like he was in awe. MacMath protests one call and draws a yellow.

    Finally, if Bob Rigby says “we” on the telecast one more time or misidentifies one more player, I’m going to go nuts.

    • WilkersonMcLaser says:

      If he had said “pendulum” one more time, I would have begun throwing salt and ketchup on a gun, because I would have eaten it. Seriously, Taylor Twellman was no Ian Darke, but compared to Bob Rigby …

      • I think I blocked pendulum out of my mind much in the way children block out extremely traumatic events.

        And as soon as he said that the Union were in good shape to see this one out and the Galaxy were looking tired, Barrett immediately equalizes and a Galaxy onslaught of offensive pressure ensues for the next 15 minutes before the Marfan goal.

        Then when he called the Marfan goal the “match winner” I thought for sure the Galaxy were going to equalize.

        He’s the worst. Twellman was a bit awkward at first but he was just starting out. So we kinda had to experience his growing pains. He improved significantly last year and continues to do so. Huge upgrade over Harkes.

      • So, so true. “LA is really gassed.” Ha!

        Twellman was OK on ESPN during Euro2012. Not the most insightful, but friendly enough.

      • WilkersonMcLaser says:

        Really glad it wasn’t just me. I never understood the Twellman hate. He was finding his feet in the booth and, obviously, he wasn’t the worst out there. Harkes is kind of a jerk and a blowhard, but Bob Rigby comes across as just completely clueless. This is how Americans get a bad reputation at the mic.

      • I think its one of those things were first impressions were lasting. But to me Taylor’s improvement was obvious, he clearly analyzed and critiqued himself and listened to what others had to say.

        Rigby just keeps making the same mistakes over and over and over.

      • Ed Farnsworth says:

        +1

    • The Black Hand says:

      I would like to see MacMath control his aggressiveness a bit. You never want to see your keeper at the 18, with opposition all around. I agree, Okugo should start for Carroll, when Soumare is fit. Carroll is starting to look very slow. He needs a break. I disagree on Gomez, for Lahoud. Lahoud is quicker and better, in my opinion. He had a nice match, with exception to his, (almost costly), turnover. Gomez kills us, when in transition. He needs to get fit. Hoppenot has been a great surprise. He works tirelessly (maybe a full 90′ is in order) and, I’ll say it, he just may be our best player. Landon was pathetic, last night. It reminded me of the NBA, where there are special rules for “stars”.

    • I think its okay for him to say “we” if its on a local broadcast. If its on a national one ofcourse he can’t be biased, but on a local one I think its permissible.

      • The Black Hand says:

        It was great hearing Rigby’s “WOOHOO”, in the background, after Marfan netted the winner.

  8. Philly Cheese says:

    Fun game to watch. The pressing by the Union forwards and midfielders showed a lot of energy and seemed to disrupt the LA flow. The defense of stuffing the goal with defenders while MacMath scrambles around flopping on the ground is not pretty and will cost them points if it continues. All that said, much more entertaining than the zero,offense under Nowak. Sometimes you lose games you should win, and sometimes it goes the other way.

  9. Philly Cheese says:

    Garfan has got to change his habit of elbows and tackles that aren’t related to,touching the ball. He is going to,cost us more PK’s and games as opponent’s learn to flop when Garfan throws another elbow or shoulder and hi yellow or red cards start to increase.

    • PhillyHooo says:

      Both of the Farfan’s are too reliant on pushing and elbows – ones that seemingly are done very openly rather than in a tight pack – where you can get away with it.

  10. Great win! Too bad they did not get points while I was in Houston but 3 points on the road is suberb! Also great to see the hustle and creative ideas after a forgetable game in Houston.

  11. This Game, This Game, Oh god. Just HA. I got nothing.
    That was awesome.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      Please feel free to comment on PSP when that’s all you have to say. I’m not being even the slightest bit sarcastic. Though I’m definitely smiling. Wow, what a game.

  12. Hating LA is so trite, I try to avoid it. But watching Landon diving all over the place I could just feel the enmity rising inside me. Just stop it Landon. Stop it.

    • WilkersonMcLaser says:

      That irritated me a lot, too. But what really got me was how aggressive some of the LA players got — Delagarza pushing Marfan for no reason comes to mind, or our trainer (!?) getting shoved. It’s like they feel entitled to a win, especially against our lowly club, and lash out when they don’t get it. No one buys their branding like they do.

    • Philly Cheese says:

      Maybe if some courageous ref would actual give Landon a yellow card….it might stop. He spends far too much time grabbing his “damaged” knee, only to spring up and run hard. Jack Mac had one of those late game writhings that almost drove Arenas into a coronary….but Jack learned from the “best” in Landon by watching him during the game.

  13. James Korman says:

    Now ‘that’ was a totally satisfying game. That is EXACTLY why I watch our Philadelphia Union. Exciting as hell! The game had everything. I’m in such a great mood today. Coach Hack did a great job with the substitutions. He’s looking like a pretty savvy manager who knows his personnel. How great is it that we are finding our form in the midst of a ton of games? Time to move up the table boys. GO UNION…!!!

  14. Josh Kensington says:

    It’s nice to win a game that maybe we shouldn’t have, except for finishing. It’s been too many where we said, We were the better side, but we couldn’t finish. I felt the ref was in LAs pocket.

  15. Great win and I’m just as stoked as everyone for the most part. But, dare I say, I’m now feeling the hangover and remembering some of the uglier parts of the evening. This game could (should?) have gone horribly wrong for us. Yes, we had some amazing, throw-your-body-in-harm’s-way breathtaking saves, but if LA was just a little more decisive, they easily could have had 3 or 4 goals (Keane x 3, goal post save, etc.). I didn’t see the final stats, but I think they ended up with over 20 shots. So where does the problem lie? For me, I think it is the fitness and organization of our midfield. Freddy Adu is of course the easy target, but it doesn’t seem like the midfield is on the same page whenever any one of them decides to attack. Lahoud is giving the ball away way too many times and the opposing midfielders had way too much time on the ball that enabled them to slot dangerous passes through our back line. I’d really like to see Okugo come back into the midfield for sure. It’s almost like we have too many guys on the team that are almost good enough. Maybe this idea of having multiple guys competing for the same position isn’t working out – they’re all probably killing themselves in practice to get a spot, then afraid to make a mistake when they get in (exceptions of course for Jack and Hop). So conflicted today. OK – I’m just going to go back to hooting and hollering about how great that win felt at the end of the game and stop thinking about it. Still…cautiously optimistic.

  16. Good game. They played well. Had a few let offs, and a couple good goals. Well done especially since its an away game.

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