In a press conference prior to Wednesday night's matchup, Philadelphia Union head coach harped on the fact that his team was not getting enough respect this season. With a solid performance against the MLS's best LA Galaxy, they had the chance to prove to the league that their strong early season start was no fluke.
But a poor start to the match up made the Union look like a team that deserved to be taken lightly. In the third minute, Los Angeles would score on a corner kick opportunity, as a Landon Donovan cross would hit Zac MacMath on the side of the face, deflect off the crossbar and into the net. It was certainly an embarrassing moment for the second year starting goalie, who had a strong game against the Chicago Fire just four days prior. However, Philadelphia would control the game for the rest of the half thanks to a new insertion into the starting XI.
Jose Kleberson would make his first start in a Union uniform, and made an extremely strong case to keep the central midfielder job for the long haul. He provided world class touch on the ball, something the Union have needed to propel them to the next level. The Brazilian international player provided a plethora of crisp passes, and helped to stretch an already vulnerable Galaxy back line.
And in the 23rd minute, the pressure finally broke the defending champions back. Sheanon Williams would deliver one of his patented long throw ins, and find Amobi Okugo all alone in the middle of the box for a an easy goal. It was the second of Okugo's career, and one of many Williams assists off a throw in.
Defensively, Philadelphia was extremely sound. The back line of Williams, Bakary Soumare, Okugo, and Raymon Gaddis played up high tonight, hoping to stunt any runs made by the Galaxy. It certainly paid off for the Union, as Los Angeles struggled to maintain any offensive chances in their final third. As the half progressed, Robbie Keane grew increasingly frustrated, with Philadelphia devoting two or three players to shadow him each time.
Going into the half, both teams found themselves knotted at one a piece.
The latter forty-five minutes of the game had the Union defenders on their heals, spreading the field until they eventually found a seam in the 71st minute. Donovan was left with too much space to operate at the top of the Union box, and found a cutting Keane who would give Los Angeles a 2-1 advantage. Keane was able to sneak in by Gaddis, who turned his focus away from the Irishman and onto the ball, but Los Angeles was bound to flex their offensive muscle. The fault of the Galaxy's third goal would certainly fall on Gaddis, however. Once again he became entranced with the playmaking ability of Donovan and pushed to far into the middle box, leaving Hector Jimenez wide open to finish first goal of the year.
But Donovan was not finished, tacking on a goal in the 87th minute on a feed from Keane. If Philadelphia wanted respect, it was not meant to be earned on Saturday night. They were beaten in every facet of the game, and rather handily.
After losing two straight, a 4-1 win on the road was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Galaxy. For the Union, they're left to ponder whether or not they can compete with the top MLS teams, and why they're unable to win at home.
In five games at PPL Park, the Union are a measly 1-2-2. They'll have a chance to bring their home record to .500 on Saturday, as they take on the Chicago fire for their third game in eight days.