Monday, September 24, 2012

Union stops skid by topping Houston

By Dave Zeitlin,

Chester, PA. (September 23, 2012) – The Philadelphia Union dealt a blow to the Houston Dynamo’s playoff aspirations at PPL Park on Sunday, putting in a solid all-round performance to prevail 3-1 courtesy of a Freddy Adu brace and a first career goal from Josué Martinez.

With the result, the Union – who were knocked out of the playoffs by Houston last year – improve to 8-14-6 and avoid being mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, which would have happened with a loss or a draw.

The Dynamo drop to 12-8-10 and remain in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, just one point clear of Columbus Crew for the final playoff spot.

Before Sunday’s game, the Union had scored just twice in their past five games and last netted three goals in a game on July 9. But in the 28th minute, Adu put the Union ahead, 1-0, and became the first Philly attacker to score since July 29.

Adu’s goal came after right back Ray Gaddis made a marauding run up the field and put a cross into the box that took a couple of bounces off Houston players and found the foot of Adu on the endline. Adu then cut the ball to the right and beat Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall to the near post.

Gaddis made another great run before playing a dangerous cross in the 38th minute, and generally showed great pace along the wing throughout the game.

Both teams had other chances to score, none greater than in the 11th minute when Hall made a monster save on a wide-open Josue Martinez, who made a rare start as Philly’s center forward.

It was Houston who’d break through, though, tying it up late in the first half when Boniek García hit a beautiful strike off the post and in, following a great feed from Will Bruin, who sucked both defenders to him in the middle of the box.

But Adu netted his second goal of game – and fifth of the season – when he banged home a 50th-minute penalty kick after André Hainault dragged down Philly’s Sheanon Williams in the box, restoring the one-goal Union lead. He then left the game while clutching his left leg, replaced by Keon Daniel.

Martinez finally made good on his opportunity to start in the 70th minute when he put the Union up 3-1, getting his foot on a blast from center back Amobi Okugo and taking another touch to beat Hall right in front of the net.

Trailing by a pair of goals, Houston tried to mount a comeback with Bruin hitting a powerful shot just wide in the 74th minute and Brad Davis striking the crossbar in the 88th minute. Houston never quite found the range, however, as the Union snapped a franchise-long eight-game winless streak.

Philly will look to play the role of spoiler again next week when they take on sixth-place Columbus on the road Saturday. The Dynamo return to action the same day with a home game against New England.

FULL TIME: Philadelphia Union 3-1 Houston Dynamo

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