Philadelphia Union

Union Notes: Farfan makes most of rare call

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Union Notes: Farfan makes most of rare call

CHESTER, Pa. -- It’s extremely rare and even more controversial.

But as Michael Farfan lined up for a game-deciding indirect free kick on Friday night in the Union's 3-1 win over Chivas USA (see story), he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

“We knew they were going to have the whole team in the goal,” said Farfan, who was set up at the top of the opposition’s crease in the 82nd minute. “I figured the only place it could possibly go in was under the crossbar and above their heads. I set up to do that and fortunately it worked.”

Taking a soft touch from Sebastien Le Toux, Farfan, previously scoreless on the season, confidently fired off a right-footed roof shot that whipped under the crossbar and in the net. The charging Chivas defenders were helpless to prevent it.

“We saw where it was located,” Farfan said of the placement. “[Le Toux] knew where I wanted it and he put it there.”

The play was called as a result of an illegal back pass from Edgar Mejia to goalkeeper Dan Kennedy in the box. The broken play was argued by Chivas but referee Jorge Gonzalez could not be moved.

When asked about the last time he saw an indirect free kick, Union captain Brian Carroll had trouble remembering.

“It’s been a while,” Carroll said. “I think it happened once or twice in my professional career, but it happens a lot growing up. Credit to the guys for taking care of that opportunity. It’s not easy, though it may look close to the goal.

“You don’t practice it because it happens so infrequently. It’s playground ball stuff.”

Union coach John Hackworth was impressed with how confidently Farfan took the shot.

“These players are experienced enough that they’ve gone through it a number of times,” the coach said. “You have to get a touch on it and once you do that, pick your spot on frame. He decided to go over their heads. Michael was lining that up for two minutes. You could tell he was going there.”

Hackworth facing suspension
Before Gonzalez tossed Chivas’ Josue Soto with a red card and handed the Union the indirect free kick, he quietly ejected Hackworth in the 77th minute.

Though a red card wasn’t shown to Hackworth for dissent, the ejection counts as such. Barring MLS intervention, the call will leave the Union without a head coach for next Saturday’s match against the Portland Timbers at PPL Park.

“There’s a lot of things puzzling about the whole thing,” Hackworth said. “I don’t know why I was red-carded and thrown out of the game. I thought there was a clear handball that didn’t get called.”

Union assistant Rob Vartughian is expected to take his spot on the bench.

“I was upset because I thought there was a player,” Hackworth said. “I thought the player clearly takes his elbow and knocks the ball. That’s a handball in the box. I tell the fourth official, probably a little too emotional, that I thought it was a handball. I didn’t use profanity. Then Jorge came over and I go through the motion of how I thought the player made the handball and he threw me out.

“I haven’t been thrown out in a long time and usually you have to say something to get thrown out. I guess my actions were too much.”

Inside Doop: Blowing a lead ahead of toughest game of the season

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Inside Doop: Blowing a lead ahead of toughest game of the season

The Union traveled all the way across the country, scored a couple of goals, and came within seconds of pulling off a huge win over a team that rarely loses at home.

In the end, of course, that will only make Saturday’s 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes even more frustrating as Union coaches and players are well aware that stringing together wins is the only way to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive.

In this week’s Inside Doop, we’ll take a look at how a win turned into a draw and the brutally tough week that lies ahead.

Three thoughts about Saturday’s game
1. Anyone who’s watched the Union for the last eight seasons knows one-goal leads are never safe in the final minutes, especially on the road. And in San Jose, some of those old ghosts came back to haunt the Union again as a late penalty called on Josh Yaro allowed Chris Wondolowski’s 95th-minute PK to tie the game and spoil an otherwise positive performance. Afterwards, Haris Medunjanin threw his arms up in the air and stormed off the field, the team’s first-year midfielder perhaps learning some of the many frustrations that comes along with being a Union player.

2. Yaro has now made critical mistakes in each of his last three starts, all filling in for Oguchi Onyewu. That’s surely a tough thing for Union fans to swallow considering Yaro was the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft and is not really progressing as well as he should be, injuries aside. Contrast that, meanwhile, with Jack Elliott, the 77th pick in the 2017 draft. Elliott continued to build his case for Rookie of the Year with maybe his pest performance yet, scoring his first MLS goal and looking far more comfortable defensively than Yaro, his center back partner.

3. Questions certainly remain about Roland Alberg’s consistency and chemistry with teammates, but we can’t forget that he’s one of the better ball strikers this team has ever had. He showed that again Saturday with a very nice goal that put the Union ahead 2-1 early in the second half. With Ilsinho hurt, some may have thought promising rookie Adam Najem would assume the No. 10 role. But until the team is eliminated from the playoff contention, Alberg will likely still get the chance to show just how dangerous he can be and perhaps keep racking up the goals.

Three questions for the week ahead
1. Any time a team has to play games Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday, it’s a rough stretch. This one is even harder for the Union considering they had to fly back to Philly from San Jose before they quickly turn around to head to Toronto and face the league’s best team Wednesday, and then come back home to host upstart expansion side Atlanta United FC on Saturday. As always, there will be questions as how head coach Jim Curtin deals with minute management to keep everyone fresh. It might be especially interesting to see if he’d consider resting anyone in Toronto considering even a full-strength Union team has little chance of knocking off Toronto FC, who are currently 9-0-3 at home and maybe even one of the best MLS teams ever assembled. That said, if the Union can pull off the upset, it would be a huge boost toward their playoff push and a moment they’ll remember for a long time.

2. Remember Maurice Edu? The Union midfielder hasn’t played an MLS minute in nearly two years but suited up for USL affiliate Bethlehem Steel on Sunday, playing just over 30 minutes vs. Louisville City. Does that mean he’s ready to play for the Union? Not necessarily. Last year, he made three rehab appearances with Bethlehem, before then getting hurt as he was set to play for the Union. So the coaches may still want to give it a bit more time with the Steel, meaning a trip to Toronto is unlikely.

3. Another player who’s probably closer to returning is Andre Blake, who’s now missed eight straight games because of the Gold Cup and hurting his hand in the tournament final. John McCarthy continues to play well in his absence, but getting Blake back in time to face a star-studded Toronto attack could make a huge difference north of the border.

Stat of the week
With his goal Saturday, Alberg is tied for second on the team in goals this season with five. He also finished second on the team last season in that category, and his 14 total goals in nearly two seasons ranks fifth all time.

Quote of the week
“Both teams needed three points to be honest, so a tie kind of doesn’t do much for either of us at this stage.” — Union head coach Jim Curtin, after Saturday’s 2-2 draw

Player of the week
On top of his goal, Elliott also helped set up the team’s second goal and made a couple of huge clearances in the box. The rookie was, by far, the team’s best player on the night.

Union squander late lead in San Jose, finish with draw against Earthquakes

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Union squander late lead in San Jose, finish with draw against Earthquakes

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Chris Wondolowski scored on a penalty kick in stoppage time to give the San Jose Earthquakes a 2-2 tie with the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night.

Shea Salinas drew a foul on Joshua Yaro in the penalty area to set up the penalty kick in the 95th minute. With his 10th goal, Wondolowski became the first player in MLS history with eight straight double-digit seasons.

Roland Alberg scored in the 55th to put Philadelphia (8-11-6) up 2-1.

Valeri Qazaishvili scored three minutes for San Joe (9-10-6). He eluded two defenders before punching it between two more defenders.

Jack Elliott tied it in the 35th with his first goal of the season, knocking the ball in on the left side of the net.