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Adu’s winner lifts nine-man Union past Chivas USA

FreddyAduChivas (Getty)



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.


  1. If the team is no good and you’re supposed to be the leader and best player, then connect the dots.

    In addition, how hard can it be to get fit? He has been with Philly for 9 months (give/take) and he has been through a full preseason. How is he noticeably slower and less fit than others?

    I think the U23 team’s qualifying record speaks for itself as does the USMNT’s in the most recent Gold Cup. They lost to inferior teams, hardly a hallmark of a good one.

    Adu may yet become an integral part of the national team, but if he is, then the USA is in deep trouble. Mark my words, he sucks.

  2. I’ll grant you it’s a stretch, but Nowak just always seems a few bubbles away from boiling over all the time. Since he’s so keen on having a squad of young players that he can mold it’s hard for me to look at these incidents with the intention of finding a pattern. I’ll be the first to admit that I might be looking too hard, but as I said, it’s hard for me to give this team any benefit of the doubt right now.

  3. what does the U-23’s/men’s senior team being poor(your opinion) have to do with the fact that adu was a standout in all those appearances and assisted on pretty much of all the goals scored. how much more of a positive of an impact do you want to have than that? Yes he did struggle in his stint abroad but alot of americans have i.e, donovan, altidore, clint at first, onyewu. eddie johnson should i continue? He didnt play regularly as WE would have liked so he is only now starting to work his way back to full fitness and being a full 90 mnute player. we continue to mention that he is only 22 because he is only 22 and is still learning to be a complete professional. Look at altidore, he just starting to get it and flourishing to boot. Adu will still prove to be a integral part of our national team set up, mark my words.

  4. @PD – Philly definitely isn’t winning any fans for entertainment and two wins against poor teams hardly means we’re on the road to the cup, but making judgments on character and leadership based on Garfan being reckless is a bit much. Daniel’s red card was understandable but harsh. Nowak spazzed out on Saturday night, but what does that have to do with a preseason scuffle or Garfan’s going a bit nuts for a moment? Let’s try not to Skip Bayless things here.

  5. Adu supporters always mention he was good for the U23 team, but they were bad. Adu supporters always mention he was good in the Gold Cup, but the USMNT was pretty poor in that tournament. Other than the aforementioned, to what performances can we look to see Adu’s positive qualities?

    While he is only 22, Adu hasn’t noticeably improved since he was a teenager. It’s telling when someone doesn’t improve in five years as a professional. Kimo has it right, Adu isn’t good enough to be a top player in the MLS.

  6. I have to say it’s rrrrrrrreally been a struggle to root for Philly this season. Even when they win, they manage to take all the fun out of it. To all the spin-doctors out there who are claiming that things are improving, grinding out two wins against two teams that are in worse shape personnel-wise is not an uptick in form, it’s simply being the least bad of two poor sides. Also, I was hoping the BS that went down in Costa Rica was simply because of the heat or the pre-season or the youth element and kids losing their cool, but after watching Nowak act like a total undisciplined hack it’s clear it’s simply something the team realizes they can get away with under his “leadership”. No one can defend studs up challenges this season when the league has put everyone on notice. Garfan lunged twice on two separate players on that play and looked pretty out of control in the moment, so of course he’s gonna get a card.

    I just can’t shake the feeling that win lose or draw it’s going to be a painfully long season for Philly fans.

  7. keep believing if you like … he’s a bit player at best. LOL with the Dempsey comparison. Clint’s work rate is 10x that of Adu … not even close.

    Adu is capable of moments as I mentioned but he is not an elite 90 min player that many want him to be … not even close. Does he do it game in / game out. No. Again, not even close.

    Also, Adu is less a player at 22 than 17 / 18 … so the age mention is mute imo.

  8. i disagree…..yeah he may have lost a step, eventhough he was never a blazer to begin with but his maturity is evident and his defending or should i say his efforts to close down the opposition in the defensive end has grown in leaps in bounds. Listen, he some people just don’t defend as well as others especially those who play the higher up the pitch in the offensive part of the field. If you ever watch clint dempsey play he does the same exact thing as adu, in that he doesnt bust a gut to help defend or close down the opposition with the ball because his role is to be an outlet once the ball is retained again by his team so he can create ans score goals. To say adu shouldn’t sniff the national team again is just pure hating to me because in my estimation he was the the best player for the U-23’s in olympic qualifying and think back to the gold cup when he set up the winner against panama, and bossed the mexicans in the finale with two more assist. He’s classy my friend!

  9. Philly doesn’t seem to have an coherent strategy or a focal point for their attack. Without a playmaker, they need to create chances through quickly moving the ball and shifting opponents out of shape, but they are slow in the passing and movement.

    Philly has been strong defensively the past few games (albeit against weak opposition) and that’s winning them points. In order to compete against the league’s best, they’ll need a bit more than defensively solidity. I’m hoping that as the season progresses, the new signings (Pajoy, Gomez, Martinez) acclimate better and the younger players (Farfans, Okugo, Mwanga) continue to improve. Fingers crossed here for a big second half to the season and a building of momentum to the playoffs.

  10. As for Adu … I just don’t see him being a difference maker anymore. He was at his best at the U20s as a withdrawn striker … given the freedom to roam and constantly create. He is no longer that player. He’s lost a step and his fitness level remains well below avg. He seems to trot around the pitch for long stretches of the match. Yes … he still possesses excellent vision and can make that surgeon like pass … but he’s no longer elite … not a player that can help the USMNT. People need to lower their expectations. Look, he should be a dominant player in the MLS and he is not. That’s the sad truth.


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