With the Union’s 2013 campaign ending with a whimper (two straight losses and a 3-6-3 record over the final three months effectively knocked them out of playoff contention), it might be hard to remember the good times.
The MLS regular season, after all, is an eight-month marathon and how are we expected to remember what happened back in March when our attention spans are … SQUIRREL!
Luckily, I’m here to provide some highlights of some of the Union’s best goals and moments. (And before you think we’re getting soft, feel free to reference Steve Moore’s recent post on the team’s blown chances and all of the other cynical and negative articles that exist about a team that, while setting a franchise record for wins, did sort of crash and burn down the stretch.)
Here now are the top highlights from each month of the season:
Don’t ask me how but in the second game of their season, the Union somehow went on the road and picked up a rare win over a playoff team (Colorado) after the game was postponed because of a blizzard. The contest also featured Amobi Okugo’s first career goal, as well as an awkwardly subdued celebration from Philly’s rising star.
The first three months of the season were very good to Jack McInerney, who scored a whopping 10 goals by June 1 before hitting a wall. And no game was better for the 21-year-old star striker than the Union’s 3-2 win over rival D.C. United on April 21 when McInerney scored twice, including this delicious goal where he managed to split a pair of D.C. defenders. Make sure to watch the video, if only to hear the announcer exclaim, “The Jack Mac Attack has done it again!”
In another one of the season’s did-that-really-just-happen moments, much-maligned midfielder Danny Cruz managed to score twice in a one-minute span, spurring the Union to a 2-2 home draw with the Seattle Sounders on May 4. To put that in perspective, Cruz finished the season with three goals and had a total of two goals all of last season.
This was a good month for the Union, who picked up two 3-0 home wins – over Columbus and eventual Supporters’ Shield winner New York. But of all of the goals scored in those two exciting victories, none was as cool as defender Sheanon Williams’ vs. Columbus – not only because he scored on an acrobatic side-volley that landed him on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays but also because he decided to hug a random fan afterwards.
The Aaron Wheeler-to-Antoine Hoppenot goal that led to the Union’s 1-0 road win in Vancouver on July 27 was impressive but few goals were as memorable (or weird) as Michael Farfan’s vs. Chivas USA on July 12. In the rarely seen indirect kick, Farfan rocketed one into the top of the net from about seven yards out as Chivas defenders charged at him. The goal was Farfan's only one of the season and it came in a game in which he played opposite his twin brother, Gabriel.
The Union only scored four total goals in five August games – and two of them came from one guy in the same game. The brace from Conor Casey helped the Union pick up a 2-0 home win over shorthanded D.C. United at PPL Park on Aug. 10 – and continued to show the value of Casey, who finished with 10 goals in his first season with Philly.
Despite tumbling down the standings over the final couple of months, the Union still managed to pick up an unlikely 1-0 road win over Eastern Conference powerhouse Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 27. It was an impressive performance from the Union’s defense and from goalie Zac Macmath, who made five saves to earn the shutout, including one huge one on star midfielder Graham Zusi. The contest also featured quite the move from Cruz that set up the game's only goal.
PPL Park has never been as loud as it was on Oct. 5 when Kleberson scored a beautiful free-kick goal in the final minutes to send the Union to a thrilling 1-0 win over Toronto FC. The goal was the first in MLS for the Brazilian World Cup veteran, who had been buried on the bench for most of the season. Kleberson also had a couple of assists in October but, sadly for the Union, this win would be their last of the year. It was still, perhaps, one of the best moments in franchise history.