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Adu bags brace as Union down Dynamo


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CHESTER, Pa. — Freddy Adu hasn't always lived up to the hype during his time in Philadelphia, but on Sunday, he delivered one of his best performances in a Union uniform as he led the club to victory.

The mercurial midfielder scored after an impressive individual effort in the 28th minute before converting a second-half penalty kick and the Union went on to defeat the Houston Dynamo, 3-1, at PPL Park.

After Oscar Boniek Garcia answered Adu's opener with his own tally in the 44th minute, the teams entered the locker room tied at halftime. Philadelphia came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, though, and took the lead in the 50th minute. Sheanon Williams drew a penalty when he was hauled down on a corner kick, and Adu slotted home the enusing spot kick.

Houston tried to create an equalizer in an effort to take something out of a match that held importance in the Eastern Conference playoff race. It was the Union that would score again, though, as Josue Martinez finished a loose ball in the box in the 70th minute to put Philadelphia up 3-1, and that's how the game would end.

"I knew the goals were going to come for us, and more so than that, I think we put together a pretty complete performance today," said Union coach John Hackworth. "We were really good on both sides of the ball against an excellent team. We would have been eliminated from the playoffs if it had been anything other than three points. They did a fanastic job."

Houston went back to Texas empty-handed, while the Union remained mathematically alive in the hunt for a postseason berth after a match that saw Philadelphia awaken from a scoring drought in which they had only mustered four goals in their last eight matches.

The Union started Martinez at striker instead of Jack McInerney or Antoine Hoppenot, who had been preferred in previous games. The switch seemed to work, as Martinez looked dangerous throughout and even tallied the first MLS goal of his career in the second half. According to Hackworth, though, the decision to start Martinez was one based on player fatigue, and not necessarily tactics.

"We knew going into these two games, with the three day turnaround, that we had to play a lot of different players," Hackworth said. "We talked about this being a team effort, these two games, that we we would have to use our depth. Josue, along with a lot of our other young attacking players, needs opportunities, so it was good. He did a really good job of doing what we asked him to do, in terms of training and preparation, and that made a big difference today."

While Martinez had seen extended time before, he had never scored, so Sunday's win held added importance for the young Costa Rican as he looks to solidify his role with the club.

"I'm really happy. I think I've worked hard these past few months," said Martinez. "The opportunity arose, and I think I took advantage of it the best way I could. The team did its best and we got the three points."

Martinez's impact was important in the result, but he wasn't the best player on the field Sunday. That honor belonged to Adu, who showed the potential that soccer fans around the country and around the globe know he possesses. Unfortunately, though, Adu injured himself when he scored the penalty kick, and he had to leave the match early in the second half.

"Personally, it feels good. It means a lot," Adu said. "Two goals in league play are good for your confidence, especially when the coach tells you to push forward. To reward the coach with two goals, it's a great feeling. It feels like it's been a while since the team won a game, so hopefully I'm able to stay out in that position and play the rest of the games this year at that position."

For the Dynamo, the loss represented a blown opportunity for the club to distance itself from other teams trying to get into the postseason. Houston remained in the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Columbus Crew now sit just one point behind them. The Dynamo failed to convert any momentum from their 4-0 midweek win in the CONCACAF Champions League into the game against Philly.

Houston will have a chance to get back on track on Saturday, when they return home to host the New England Revolution. Philadelphia, meanwhile, will take on another East contender when they travel to Columbus to take on the Crew.

Here are the match highlights:

What did you think of the match? Can Philadelphia somehow pull off a miracle and challenge for a playoff berth, or were they just playing spoiler? Will Houston rebound next week against the Revolution?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. By the way “unrealistic expectation”?

    Your expectation is that he will be the USMNT #10 and lead us to the 2014 World Cup. Which is what a #10 does. If that is where you want him, he can’t be a part timer,which is all Freddy has ever been.

    I’m sorry but that is far more unrealistic than anything I have written.

  2. PD,

    Jozy is a different case from Adu. Both had similar experiences bouncing around European clubs at a young age. Both have been written off and come back.

    The difference is that through all his European travels, Jozy has been a regular for the US and done well. Part of it is the position they play.

    Jozy was a forward on a team that had few if any alternatives to him.

    Adu was a creative number 10 type and the US was not and is not set up to play with one.

    The position issue is crucial. At his best Jozy could contribute in many ways even if he did not score. Club teams that will take a chance on a 21-22 year old World Cup veteran with a good scoring record for his national team. AZ proved to be a perfect fit.

    Adu on the other hand had precious few US appearances. And unlike you and his fans, the people who buy players aren’t wild about the idea of taking someone else’s trash and turning it into their treasure. Not when they can get a player who is younger, cheaper and as good if not better. Emphasis on cheaper.

    As you and so many others have pointed out, needs to more or less have the team built around him to do his best. In the hyper competitive European club scene, that is a lot to ask of a technical director and a manager to commit to building a team around a guy who can’t get on the field for his clubs and can’t get on the field for his country. Put yourself in their shoes. Guys like Freddy are a dime a dozen in the reserve teams of the big European clubs.

    Yes, Fred is only 22 but that is ancient in the soccer world, especially in Europe. Eden Hazard is 21 but has been tearing it up for Lille in Lge 1 since 2009 when he was 18 or so.

    Freddy could still be a rough approximation of the star everyone thought he could be. But his career has been mismanaged to this point. Who was responsible I do not know, but he should have found a way long before last year to force his way to a club either MLS or elsewhere in Europe where he could have played and shown people what he can do.
    And ask yourself this, shouldn’t Freddy have known that Nowak, of all people, was not the Union’s answer to Stewart and Verbeek, or Owen Coyle or David Moyes? I don’t know how much influence Adu had about going to Philly but you would have thought he would have moved heaven and earth to avoid his old manager.

    The guy has been around for eight years and been through a ton of managers and clubs and has precious little production to show for it. Jozy produced, Freddy did not. That production earned Jozy a shot at a good club. Freddy earned himself a berth with Nowak. Think about that.

    It is always someone else’s fault. There is always an excuse.

    Twenty two or not you only get so many shots.

  3. Donovan and Dempsey’s “disappearances” have been tolerated because they have proven themselves many times over to be vital contributors to the USMNT.

    Also, they have proven that they can contributed to the team even when they do not score. Both do a lot of the dirty work, the little things that fans don’t notice.

    In the 2010 WC, Clint (and Jozy) were making a lot of dummy runs and getting clobbered numerous times. I rarely see either guy get credit for that sort of work.

    And Donovan for example was beloved by Moyes and Everton because of his defensive effort and his all around contribution, not for his goal scoring. In fact Moyes is on record as saying he does not regard Donovan as a goalscorer per se. And he meant that as a compliment, sort of.

    The same cannot be said of Adu. If if he does provide the best final killer pass, which is debateable, if that is the only thing he can do, and that seems to be the case,then few if any teams can afford that luxury; certainly not the US.

  4. Sure, so where was Freddy against Canada when a few goals would have made a big difference and changed the whole nature of the El Salvador game?


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