Down 1-0 to visiting Chivas USA and approaching 300 minutes without a goal, the Union finally gave the PPL Park faithful something to Doop about. The team dominated the inferior Sporting KC side on Wednesday but failed to score in a 0-0 draw. On Saturday night we got pretty much the exact opposite.
A near last-place Western team, Chivas came to play on Saturday, giving the Union some real competition and even a bit of a fright, once leading and once leveling the match. But the U found their scoring touch, with Veljko Paunovic notching his first MLS goal to level it at 1, and Carlos Ruiz punching home a beautiful go-ahead finish. Chivas would tie it at 2 on a goal by the giant, Justin Braun, whom Rev warned us about in his preview. But the Union finally went ahead for good on a gorgeous Danny Mwanga strike in the 82nd minute.
All in all a great night of soccer down at PPL. The Union have been so close to scoring in their matches lately, just lacking finish. On Saturday, Ruiz and Mwanga each left nothing to chance, burying two gorgeous goals as you saw in the viddy above. More on a great Saturday night and a look at the month ahead, after the jump.
The Union had some frustration trying to stay onside, with a few golden opportunities thwarted, rightly, by the sideline warden. But it was a sign they were trying to stretch the field and get the ball to their talented offensive weapons, a welcomed sight. Ultimately, that talent was able to outclass Chivas and send us home chanting.
Mwanga's abilities with the ball continue to shine, displayed for all to see when he corralled the ball, then turned and placed it—far from effortlessly—into the net just inside the post. Hopefully whatever knee issue he had is gone now, because there's not a pair of eyes in the building that doesn't want to train on Mwanga for as many minutes as possible. This isn't to second guess his usage last night. A fresh Mwanga may well have been the difference.
ALONE ATOP THE TABLE
The Union now sit alone atop the Eastern Conference table, a full three points ahead of New York Red Bulls and five ahead of Columbus Crew, equal in games played with New York, with the Crew holding a game in hand. In other words, they really needed three points last night in order to continue staving off the pack, while getting at least a temporary leg up on the Red Bulls.
They also stayed unbeaten at home in 2011, upping their mark at the Park to 5-0-4.
BIG MONTH AHEAD
Though it's on the road, the Union won't have to travel far for their next match. They'll face DC United at RFK Stadium on July 2 to kick off a three-game traveling campaign that also includes San Jose and New England. After that, we'll have the two special home friendlies, first hosting Everton at PPL Park, then Real Madrid at Lincoln Financial Field.
It'll be a huge July for a first-place club, but also for a still-young franchise.
Photo via the Union's Facebook gallery.