Despite a bizarre series of decisions by referee Mark Geiger which led to the Philadelphia Union going down to ten men, they were still able to collect a win over the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday afternoon at PPL Park by the familiar scoreline of 1-0.
It was the Union's fourth win of the season, which all have finished at 1-0. The Union's only loss, to the Los Angeles Galaxy, also finished 1-0. The Union have only played in one game that ended with more than one goal. Saturday's result left Philadelphia with an astonishing 13 points from only five goals scored, the lowest total in all of MLS. Of course, the Union have only let in two goals all year.
A harsh red card was shown to left back Jordan Harvey in the 41st minute after Geiger supposedly felt that Harvey had kicked San Jose defender Chris Leitch. Replays reveal that Geiger may have been sorely mistaken.
The Union responded well, though, and actually created many chances despite going down to ten men. They were awarded for their efforts in the 76th minute when Geiger awarded a penalty for an apparent Jason Hernandez handball. Again, replays show that it may have been a soft call, but Geiger may have felt he needed to make up for his heinous error from earlier. More after the jump including full match highlights.
It was the Union's first match in two weeks after their April 23 away game against Real Salt Lake was moved to accommodate the Claret and Cobalt's run in the CONCACAF Champions League. Coach Peter Nowak came out with a different-looking lineup that included attacking midfielder Roger Torres and striker Danny Mwanga, who each had been filling substitute roles earlier in the season.
The changes seemed to be working as the Union were the more aggressive side early on. But some altercations between the two teams created a situation that Mark Geiger seemed powerless to control. He lost the script in the 41st minute with the red card to Jordan Harvey and as a result, the Union had to adopt a more defensive style.
Torres was taken off for Stefani Miglioranzi and Mwanga gave way to Michael Farfan, who filled in at left back in his first MLS appearance.
Despite the changes, San Jose still seemed anemic on offense and the Union actually controlled possession for large portions of the second half. In the 76th minute, Amobi Okugo ran into the box with the ball and attempted a cross which Geiger deemed to have touched Jason Hernandez's hand. He called the penalty and Sebastien Le Toux slotted it past Jon Busch for his first goal of the game.
The Union held on late for yet another 1-0 win, their fourth of the young 2011 campaign. They will now have a short week as they head up to JELD-WEN Field to take on the Portland Timbers, who have been excellent on their home field, on Friday night. The game will be on Fox Soccer Channel.
One other note: The team apparently plans to appeal Jordan Harvey's red card in an attempt to nullify the automatic one-game suspension that goes with red card ejections. Harvey is the only player to have appeared in all of the Union's games in their entire history: all 30 last season, and the six this year. If he loses the appeal, that streak will end. Here are the full match highlights. Do you think it was a red card?