Saturday, September 25, 2010

Union routs Chivas USA 3-0

By John McMullen

Chester, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - The Philadelphia Union returned from a 10-day layoff to keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a 3-0 victory over Chivas USA in front of 16,481 on the Delaware Riverfront.

Alejandro Moreno, Fred and Sebastien Le Toux all scored for the Union (7-12-6), while goalkeeper Brad Knighton recorded his second shutout in three games since taking over as Philadelphia's starting goalkeeper.

The 3-0 score marked the Union's largest margin of victory in their inaugural season and extended their unbeaten streak to five games at PPL Park, a pair of wins and three draws.

Knighton, meanwhile, has allowed just one goal in three games since taking over for the ineffective Chris Seitz and presided over the first two clean sheets in franchise history.

The Union are now nine points behind Seattle for the final MLS playoff spot with just fives games left to play.

Philadelphia was lackadaisical early on and let Chivas (7-14-4) take the action to them. Knighton finally helped his teammates shake off the rust and ignited the crowd in the 16th minute when the netminder raced out of the box to make a huge sliding tackle with a wide open Justin Braun bearing down on him.

A minute later Philadelphia nearly took the lead when a Le Toux crossing pass found Moreno in the box, who headed it just wide right of the post.

Moreno didn't miss the next time he had an opportunity in the 26th minute, however. The skilled Venezuelan, who has struggled with injuries this season, deposited his second goal of the year inside the far post by heading a perfect Justin Mapp corner kick past Chivas goalkeeper Zach Thornton.

The Union then took a commanding 2-0 edge during stoppage time at the end of the first half. Mariano Trujillo's yellow card gave Le Toux a free kick from the far side and the Frenchman found Moreno again, who redirected it on goal. Thornton was equal to the task this time but gave up the rebound and Fred was
on the doorstep to pick up the garbage and make it a 2-0 game at intermission.

The rout was on in the 69th minute when Le Toux blasted a free kick off the wall that deflected by Thornton for a 3-0 edge. Chivas defender Michael Umana lost his cool seconds earlier, kneeing a prone Le Toux to set up the All-Star's 12th goal of the season, third in MLS behind Edson Buddle of Los Angeles (14) and Juan Pablo Angel of New York (13).

The Union return to action in Colorado on Wednesday.

State of the UNION:

*Le Toux has had quite a season. He remains the only MLS player to record double figures in both goals (12) and assists (10). Meanwhile, the Frenchman came into today's game first in the league in shots on goal (41), fourth in total shots (76), third in game-winning assists (3), tied for first with one hat trick and fifth in corner kicks (80).

*Veteran midfielder Eduardo Coudet missed his fourth straight game with a strained right calf while defender Juan Diego Gonzalez missed his third straight with a groin strain. Gonzalez was dressed and available but not
needed after Philadelphia amassed a large lead.

*Defender Toni Stahl probably could have gone with a sprained ankle but was not active. Le Toux (ankle sprain) and MF Stefani Miglioranzi (left calf strain) both started despite injuries.

*Rookie star Danny Mwanga returned to the starting lineup after being used as a sub 10 days ago in San Jose. Mwanga has been hampered by a separated shoulder suffered on Sept. 11 against Chicago and was replaced by Andrew Jacobson to start the second half. Mwanga was a bit sore but the move was also
tactical. The strength of Mwanga's game is at the offensive end.

*The Union's other substitutions were Amobi Okugo for Fred in the 74th minute and Roger Torres getting Mapp in the 76th minute.

*Union defender Cristian Arrieta, who did not dress, will also miss the team's next two games after being called up to join the Puerto Rican National Team to compete in the qualifying round of the 2010 Caribbean Championship. The competition, which  takes place in Puerto Rico from October 2-6, is the tournament in the  Caribbean Region of CONCACAF. The 31-year-old will depart for Puerto Rico on Sept. 28, where he will remain until Oct. 7, thus missing the Colorado Rapids away game on Wednesday, and the Houston Dynamo match at PPL Park on Saturday, Oct. 2.  Arrieta is scheduled to report back to Philadelphia in the early morning of Oct.7, and will be eligible to play that night against the LA Galaxy.

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