Who would’ve thought that the Philadelphia Union would come into Wednesday’s game against the Houston Dynamo on a two-game winning streak? Yes the Union have somewhat found their winning ways again. It’s too early in the stretch to officially proclaim it fully, but the team has seemed to click in the last three games. They’ve gone 273 minutes without giving up a goal. That equates to three straight games dating back to the Los Angeles Galaxy game. In their last two games they’ve scored seven goals, three of which thanks to C.J Sapong’s hat trick effort against the New York Red Bulls. Haris Medunjanin, Fafa Picault, and Oguchi Onyewu all found the net against D.C United to give each of them their first MLS goals. Things are FINALLY looking up for the team, but standing in their way on Wednesday was Houston.
Explosive: Philadelphia Union Defuse Houston Dynamo 2-0
Houston came into the game tied for first place in the Western Conference with F.C Dallas and Sporting K.C. After under performing last season, they’ve finally hit their stride as a unit. They are led in part by Mexican international Erick Torres who is tied for first in MLS in goals with eight. Midfielder Alex has six assists which is second in the league. This is their first of a three game road series.
Philadelphia: Blake/ Gaddis; Onyewu; Elliot; Fabinho/ Bedoya; Medunjanin/ Pontius; Illsinho; Picault/ Sapong
Houston: Willis/ DeLaGarza; Machado; Leonardo; Beasley/ Clark; Cabeza; Alex/ Manotas; Torres; Quioto
In the fourth minute, Fafa Picault put a curling ball toward the far post, reminiscent of his goal last Saturday, but this time it went wide instead of hitting net. In the 16th minute, a misplayed pass from Haris Medunjanin caused a semi-breakaway for Erick Torres. Torres played a low driven shot right at Andre Blake who gobbled it up.
Not a minute later, a Chris Pontius cross met the head of Picault who sent the ball off the cross bar and into the net to give Philly a 1-0 lead. It’s Picault’s second straight game with a goal and Pontius’ fifth assist of the year.
Moving on to the 26th minute, a rare Illsinho breakaway occurred. He dribbled the ball from the Union’s 18-yard box all the way to Houston’s without a pass. He then fired a laser of a shot which rattled off the post and then subsequently shot out of bounds by Ray Gaddis. It was an incredible effort but the scoreline remained 1-0.
In the 27th minute, Andre Blake officially hit 300 minutes of not allowing a goal. This is now the longest shutout streak in MLS this year, surpassing Luis Robles of New York Red Bulls with 295 minutes.
In the 39th minute, a low ball across the box from Chris Pontius found Illsinho who slotted it home with ease, making the score 2-0 in favor of the home side. It was Illsinho’s first goal of the year and Pontius’s sixth assist of the year, moving him into second place in MLS for assists.
Halftime would follow and the scoreline stood at 2-0. A barrage of shots from the Union kept Houston on their toes.
The second half started off rather quite slowly and ended up finishing as such. The biggest moment up to the 65th minute was former Union player Andrew Wenger subbed on for Houston he was greeted to some pretty loud boos. Andre Blake preserved the shutout when he stuffed Wenger inside the box after an over top through ball. In the 90th minute, Houston finally put the ball into the goal but was immediately disallowed. The final whistle blew with the Union winners of three in a row, against quality opponents too.
Here’s what Chris Pontius said about the recent turn around:
“We weren’t a 0-4-4 team,” he said. “That was the biggest thing for me. I’ve been on a bad team. I know what a bad team feels like…….we didn’t change much. We came to work rolled up the sleeves and got the job done.”
The Union return home Saturday night for another Western Conference opponent as they face the Colorado Rapids.