Monday, March 17, 2014

Le Toux lifts Union in home opener

Chester, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union (1-0-1, 4 points) defeated the New England Revolution (0-2-0) Saturday at PPL Park in the team’s 2014 home opening match, courtesy of a first-half goal from Sebastien Le Toux.

Zac MacMath earned a shutout, recording three saves on the afternoon.

Le Toux finished off a run and pass from midfielder Leo Fernandes in the 31st minute, as he slotted a one-touch shot past New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttlesworth. The goal marked Le Toux’ sixth goal in a home opener as the forward/midfielder has provided either a goal or an assist in all five Union home openers.

 “We wanted start well at home, and to get a shutout is really important too,” Le Toux said postgame. “We take the 1-0 [lead] and it was a great performance by everyone today. I feel like we got off to a good start and I felt relaxed as the game went on. It’s fun to score goals. Hopefully I can score more goals later on, and help more the team more. Starting off the season with three points [at home] entails a great start to the year and I want to do everything I can to make sure it continues.”

The Union attacked the Revs in the first half, creating a bulk of the chances and just narrowly missed putting a few away. One of note arrived in the 24th minute when Shuttlesworth mishandled a low driven ball into the box that fell to the feet of Le Toux just outside the six-yard box, but defensive pressure from the Revs didn’t allow for Le Toux to get a clean hit.

Fernandes, a former Reading United product who started just three games last season, was extremely impressive and mimicked much of what he displayed during preseason. His inclusion into the match was due in large part to a late scratch for Union captain Brian Carroll, who was left off today’s lineup due to “flu like symptoms,” disclosed postgame by Union manager John Hackworth.

 “I think you saw in the first 10 minutes of the game it was a little shaky,” said Hackworth. “The guys haven’t trained with those players in those positions all week long but Leo has been in some of preseason activities with these guys. I told Leo that you don’t have to be the best player on the field; all you have to do is your job, play your role, manage your minutes and I thought he did a good job with that today.”

In all, the Union dominated the stat sheet, holding edge in possession (60-40), attempts on goal (13-5) and shots (10-5).  However, postgame it was Hackworth that said in many ways his team could have done even better. The manager sees room to grow and with the talent on this roster, the possibilities are limitless.

 “The best way to close out the games is to get the second goal,” Hackworth said.  “I’ll be honest; I don’t think we played well the second half. My expectations going out of halftime was that we were going to do the same thing like gain possession, have the highest number of passes.  It’s hard but we were really determined to rectify the situation last week. The whole time [in the second half] I was urging us to step it up and pick up the pressure. But I feel confident in this group and that will be the next step for us.”

 This game builds confidence heading into another Eastern Conference clash next Saturday, when the Union travel to Columbus to take on the Crew (6 p.m., The Comcast Network) before closing out the month of March with a return to PPL Park to host the Montreal Impact.


 Philadelphia Union 1, New England Revolution 0

 Saturday, March 15, 4:00 p.m. ET

 PPL Park

 Chester, Pa.


 PHI: Le Toux 31’ (Fernandes)


 PHI: McInerney 10’ (yellow)

 PHI: Berry 48’ (yellow)

 NE: Soares 70’ (yellow)


 MacMath, Fabinho, Okugo, Berry (Wheeler 54’), Gaddis, Fernandes, Edu, Nogueira, Maidana (Cruz 87’), McInerney (Hoppenot 82’), Le Toux.


Shuttleworth, Tierney (Sene 78’), Soares, Farrell, Barnes, Dorman (Kobayashi 70’), Caldwell, Fagundez, Nguyen, Smith (Bengtson HT), Bunbury.
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