CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union were happy to return home after a difficult two-game road trip.
But they certainly didn’t expect so much craziness to unfold once they did.
Let’s take a look back at Friday’s wild 3-1 win over Chivas USA at PPL Park, and then ahead to Philly’s next home match, in this week’s “Inside Doop.”
Three thoughts from Friday’s game
1. Friday’s rain might have been the worst the Union have ever played in – and it showed. Early in the game, Amobi Okugo slipped while trying to make a defensive play, which opened the door for Chivas USA to take a 1-0 lead into halftime. And throughout the contest, the field looked especially slippery on the Union’s right side of the field with right back Sheanon Williams losing his footing on a couple of different occasions. “It definitely messes with you,” Williams said afterwards from the dry locker room.
2. As if the torrential downpour and whipping winds weren’t enough, the game took an even crazier turn midway through the second half when, in the span of a couple of minutes, manager John Hackworth was ejected for arguing a no-call, Chivas USA was whistled for an illegal pass-back to the goalie, and a Chivas player was ejected for arguing that call. But while the Union certainly got a fortunate break with the rarely seen pass-back call, they also should be commended for maintaining their composure and using it to their advantage as Michael Farfan scored the tough game-winner on an indirect free kick from about seven yards out.
3. Farfan’s goal was the most memorable one of the night – which is probably fine for Conor Casey, who continues to quietly have one of the best seasons of his long and illustrious career. Casey had an assist on the Union’s first goal since his header deflected off Brian Carroll and into the net (the goal was basically his) and then scored the final one of the game to seal the 3-1 win. The veteran forward – affectionately nicknamed “Big Country” by color commentator Alejandro Moreno – has really risen to the occasion following the departure of Jack McInerney, who’s missed the last three games because of the Gold Cup.
Three questions for the week ahead
1. Union manager John Hackworth likes to talk about the team trying to earn respect when they face quality teams. Saturday’s game against the talented Portland Timbers (8-2-9) at PPL Park (7:30 pm ET, Comcast SportsNet) certainly fits the bill – but will Hackworth be on the sideline for it? Because he was ejected from Friday’s game, it’s likely he will be suspended for the next game – although that hasn’t yet been made official by the league.
2. Has Fabinho earned a place in the starting lineup? The new acquisition from Brazil made a huge impact in his first MLS game Friday, playing in the ball that led to the game-winning goal and getting his first assist on Casey’s final goal. It originally appeared that the Brazilian would simply provide cover for the Union at left back. But having a left-footed player on the wing that provides great service could immediately make him a regular in the rotation at midfield.
3. Will McInerney make his U.S. national team debut this week? The 20-year-old striker didn’t play in the first two games of the Gold Cup and it doesn’t seem very likely that he’ll get into the game for Tuesday’s contest against Costa Rica. But while it would be unfortunate if he doesn’t play at all during the Gold Cup, just being around the national team for the first time is still a big deal for someone who’s only 20 years old.
Stat of the week
Conor Casey is averaging a goal or assist every 98.7 minutes this season, putting him on pace for his best statistical year ever in MLS.
Quote of the week
“Sometimes [the ball] stops, sometimes it skips, sometimes it rolls fast, and sometimes it doesn’t go anywhere. The rain is whipping in your face from all different angles – it’s just annoying.” – Union midfielder Brian Carroll on Wednesday’s playing conditions
Player of the week
With another goal and assist, Casey gets the nod for the second straight week. Casey, McInerney, Sebastien Le Toux have combined for 33 goals and assists this season – and yet none of them (or anyone else on the Union) made the MLS All-Star roster, which was just announced.