BY JONATHAN VERA
CARSON, Calif. – The Philadelphia Union have been shutting down opposing offenses with regularity in recent weeks, but trying to stop a team while having just nine players on the field was a challenge that seemed too much to ask.
On Saturday night, the Union met the challenge of overcoming two red cards, riding a Freddy Adu goal and some tough defending to a 1-0 victory over Chivas USA at Home Depot Center.
Michael Farfan set up Adu's first-half finish with some beautiful build-up play, but that lead looked in jeopardy after a pair of Union red cards to Keon Daniel and Gabriel Farfan left the Union with nine men.
“We’re fighting for every point and that was good fighting from everyone in the team, regardless of what happened on the field. The three points are very important to us,” said Union Head Coach Peter Nowak, who was thrown out of the game for excessive arguing and coming onto the pitch in the 85th minute.
Farfan's red card, which came after an ugly studs-up challenge on James Riley, set off shoving matches between the teams.
“I think that the game went a little in the other direction after we scored the goal,” commented Nowak. “You don’t want to see this kind of stuff. Chivas was trying to pull every single trick out from their sleeves to make us suffer.”
As animated as the Chivas USA lockerroom was after the match because of the ugly tackles committed by the Union, a bigger concern was the team's inability to capitalize on a two-man advantage.
“Anytime you go up a man, you should be able to create some opportunities, and we did that,” said Chivas Head Coach Robin Fraser. “But it’s just disappointing. We did a good job of getting into wide areas, had dangerous services in, we were knocking on the door, but in the end if you don’t finish your chances we walk away feeling like this.”
One positive for Chivas USA on Saturday was the return of Juan Pablo Angel, who came on as a second-half substitution in the 63rd minute. Angel and Chivas USA mustered some chances, but nothing that really troubled the Union.
“It was great, still trying to get minutes in and get the tempo of the game after being away for six weeks,” said Angel.