Union overcome early deficit, terrible weather, to top Chivas USA

Mario de Luna, Conor Casey


On a night when the elements threatened to play the role of the great equalizer, the Philadelphia Union started their match on Friday night against Chivas USA looking like they might be the ones to pay the price for a crazy night of weather. Ultimately though, it was the Goats who left PPL Park wondering how they endured such bad luck.

Amidst torrential downpours and wind at PPL Park, a controversial indirect free kick goal from Michael Farfan in the 82nd minute was the deciding goal that lifted the Philadelphia Union to a 3-1 victory over 10-man Chivas USA on Friday night.

“Because of the previous three games (two late draws to FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake and a loss to Houston), we knew we had to come here and get three points,” Union head coach John Hackworth said. “We felt like Chivas were a good team. They deserve a lot of credit…what they do, they do well and they make it hard for teams.”

The match looked like it would play out as a draw amid the awful conditions, but the result turned on a questionable call that pushed the match in Philadelphia’s favor. Chivas keeper Dan Kennedy was adjudged to have handled a back-pass after Chivas USA’s Edgar Mejia kicked the ball from the ground and it went into Kennedy’s arms (replays appeared to show it to be an inadvertent kick).

The call gave Philadelphia a very dangerous indirect free kick, and Josue Soto’s reaction to the call, which included making light contact with referee Jorge Gonzalez, led to a second yellow card for Soto, which left the Union up a man for the final 10 minutes.

Farfan ran onto the indirect free kick layoff pass from Sebastien Le Toux and roofed his shot over Chivas USA’s defenders to make the score 2-1 in the 82nd minute.

“I figured the only place it could possibly go in was above (the Chivas defense’s) heads and under the crossbar, so I pretty much set out to do that,” Farfan said of shooting past the 10-man wall Chivas had employed to defend and charge down the free kick.

The Union made it 3-1 just six minutes later when second-half subsitute Fabinho, making his MLS debut, delivered a cross to a wide-open Casey, who finished it off for his seventh goal of the season.

Chivas USA started the match off in promising fashion,  opening the scoring in the 14th minute after a slip on the wet surface from Union defender Amobi Okugo. His error allowed Jorge Villafana to glide into the penalty area, drawing Zac MacMath from his goal before setting up Correa for an easy tap-in. It was the striker’s first goal of the season.

“We gave up a silly goal,” Hackworth said of it afterward, “But part of that’s the field, and we kept plugging away.”

The Union pressed back at the visitors as the half went on, with Danny Cruz the recipient of several good opportunities. His best came in the 31st minute after some slick passing gave him a open look on net, but Kennedy closed him down to make a fine save.

With the puddles growing and the game slowing, the first half ended uneventfully for both teams. The second appeared to be starting in similar circumstances, until the Union found their equalizer.

A short corner from the Union teed up Le Toux to cross near post for Conor Casey to head toward goal. His effort was deflected by Carroll past Kennedy, putting the Union on level terms in the 58th minute.

“To be honest, I was trying to get out of the way,” Carroll said candidly afterward. “But if it doesn’t hit me and go in, maybe it doesn’t go in at all…just something that happens in the run of play.”

With the intensity of the game picking up despite the conditions, the Union ran close on several chances midway through the half. One effort from Sheanon Williams in the 76th minute that went high was preceded by a possible handball on the endline by a Chivas player defending Le Toux on the ground. Hackworth’s protests for a penalty were met with an ejection by referee Gonzalez.

“The player on the ground, to me, clearly took his elbow and knocked the ball. That’s a handball, it’s in the box…I don’t think I was the only one who thought it was a PK,” Hackworth said, figuring that it was his actions, rather than his words, that got him sent off.

Farfan’s go-ahead goal came just a few minutes after Hackworth’s ejection, and Casey gave the Union insurance in the 89th minute. A whipped-in cross from debutant Fabinho on the left gave Casey an easy tap-in past Kennedy at the back post for his seventh goal of the season and fifth in six matches.

The win snapped a three-match winless run for the Union (8-6-6; 30 pts.), who moved into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with a win, just one point behind East-leading Montreal.

Chivas USA (3-11-5; 14 pts.) remain at the bottom of the Western Conference and have not won in 14 league matches dating back to late March.

Chivas will return to action on July 17th with a home match against Toronto FC, while the Union host the Portland Timbers on July 20th.

Here are the match highlights:

  • SanFran415

    Whatever there is to say to the media, go ahead and say it. The fine will be worth it.

    Just… I mean can we not do this every week guys? Can we just go through one weekend of games without a mind-numbingly awful decision by a referee that directly impacts a game in a serious, negative manner?

    I’m running out of adjectives and hyperbole to describe the state of officiating in MLS. And to be specific we’re not quite discussing 50/50 calls that we may disagree with. MLS officials are honestly just making things up or calling things that simply didn’t happen.

    It’s either a backp@ss or it isn’t. There’s a set definition for what constitutes a backp@ss and it most certainly did not happen. So how can you possibly say it did when it didn’t happen?


    • dan c

      it was a bad call that washed out the bad non call on the handball in the box when the Chivas player was rolling around and hit it with his elbow. The officiating in MLS sucks, but bad calls tend to wash as it did tonight.


      • SanFran415

        A no call on a discretionary call–was he judged to have handled the ball intentionally and he wasn’t–does not wash away an incorrect call to essentially give a penalty, a decision which led to a red card as well.

        He had no right to give that free kick in the box. There was no infraction.


      • Frank

        The red card was because a dude decided to get physical with the ref


      • PD

        You’re joking right? I’m not a fan of crowding a ref on a questionable call, and sure the player made contact, but are you really going to say “that entire sequence is perfectly OK”? A call like is so ridiculous that if makes you wonder if a loanshark was waiting by the phone at the refs home waiting to hear the fix went through. Totally ridiculous, totally bush league, not the first blown call of the match, not the last, and he issues a second yellow/red for incidental contact after the player hollers about a bush league call. Sure that’s a card able offense, but if you are a halfway competent ref then you reduce the chances of having irate players surrounding you asking you if you’ve lost your mind and bumping into you.


      • Spencer

        He was the least physical one with the ref. That second yellow was a joke as was the call that led to it. These refs must be suspended when they have games that bad. As long as you continue to let them ruin games without punishment these kind of things will continue to happen.


  • DE Union

    I was at the game…and before the call was even made, said “Back pass!” to the person next to me. Replays definitely don’t support an intentional back pass….but on a bang bang play, I can see where it was called that way. Also agree with Dan that the handball miss was evened out by the penalty that would have been called there. That one was on my side of the field and was clear.


    • Joel Hoover

      I specifically cover the Union beat for Ives, so they’re the only players and manager I go interview afterward.


      • Newspaper Gumshoe

        To be fair, SBI is a national, not a Philly-focused site, so while you are based in Philly, and cover the Philly games and therefore cover the “Union” beat, it is fair to ask that you cover both teams. AP has one reporter at a game, but does cover both teams. I too am interested in Chivas’ reaction to what happened on Friday night.


  • Adrian

    THis was an awful call, the ref was too eager for the spotlight. MLS should either pay for better refs or require hours upon hours of ref school. This can’t be a top flight league with bushwack refs,


  • Adrian

    and bushwack calls such as this. I’m tired of giving them the benifit of the doubt and this case where there was no doubt. Ughhhh !!!


    • Eric B

      US Soccer does require “hours upon hours of ref school”. And you’re absolutely positive there was no intent on the back pass? Where exactly was the Chivas player trying to send the ball?


  • MB

    So how many red cards have gifted the Union points in the past ten or so games? And how many of those red cards were very very very bad calls? I believe most of them. It is getting ridiculous at this point. Few teams get these many good breaks over the course of an entire season, let alone a few games.


    • John

      How has that worked out for us? Please if you’re gone to say we got breaks and tired two game in extra time up a man that we should have won? Both game lasted an extra 8 minutes, please, we didn’t win 6-0 up a man.


  • Flacotex

    Honestly, I turned the game off after the indirect free kick. That was a terrible decision by the ref. As a neutral I like to watch games where the winner is not decided by the officiating.


  • Boyd

    Somebody has to do something about these referees.
    I refuse to believe so many of them are this bad. There has to be more to these stories.


  • BK

    This Ref is terrible….Soto’s first yellow wasn’t valid. Where do they get these guys ???


    • broadsthooligans

      Why wasn’t Soto’s first yellow valid? Farfan pushes the ball by him and Soto lifts his knee to take Farfan down without playing the ball at all and as Farfan is going towards goal. Making a foul is a clear yellow and given the spot (literally on the line) Soto was lucky that it wasn’t called a penalty.


  • Rafavic

    Yes the ref’s are bad but for those who do not think Philly has been on the wrong end of those calls you are mistaken. The game against Dallas is a prime example. Not really sure how the teams address the ref as the complaints of the coaches and players are not helping. The league will need to be pressured into getting refs from somewhere else.


    • Eric B

      Where do think they get them from now? While PRO is in charge of managing them, they’re still qualified through US Soccer, including the seven full-FIFA referees we have in the States now.

      While the back-pass decision might have seemed harsh (yet more in line with US Soccer’s Advice to Referees than most people are aware) MLS referees actually aren’t hard enough with disciplinary matters, but message bozos would complain they’re ruining the game…


  • Tim

    Awful awful call. One of the worst of the year. Up there with KC dude not being offsides. It’s sad when Geiger is one of the better refs.


  • Chris

    What’s frustrating is that this is the second week in a row something like this has happened to Chivas USA. The league has been popping their shoulders out of their sockets patting themselves on the back over P.R.O. and I say, if anything, these last few weeks have shown this program to be a detriment.


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