Needing three points to ensure their slim playoff hopes remain alive, the Philadelphia Union delivered and ensured people would live to talk about their playoff aspirations for another day, against the Houston Dynamo. That being said, there is over a month left in the season and any more dropped points will lead to the Union being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
In addition to that, they need all the help in the world if they want to make a playoff chase, including having several teams in front of them lose at ridiculous rates. In short, the Union are not making the playoffs in 2012, and they probably did themselves a bit of a dis-service by winning. With the incentive to win gone, the best possible result for the Union would be losses as they would ensure a better second round draft pick.
And with a team as not-good as the 2012 Union has been, they may need as good a draft pick as they can possibly get. So in short, even when the 2012 Union win, they lose. Oh well. At least this game managed to entertain, unlike the last several the Union have played.
Things would start out poorly offensively. In the 11th minute, Josue Martinez found himself alone in front of goal only to hit Tally Hall directly. The rebound would bounce to Michael Farfan who, despite being 18 yards out and having net to shoot at, managed just a weak shot that did little to challenge Hall.
It looked like it would be another one of these games that Union fans have seen too much of over the past couple months until it wasn't anymore. After several missed chances, Freddy Adu would have a moment of brilliance whereby he saved the ball from going out for a goal kick, turned it around, and got off a nice shot past a screened Hall to give the Union the lead. It was the first goal by a Union forward in nine games. Let that sink in for a moment.
The Union were the better side throughout the first half and deserving of their lead, however, right before the half, the Dynamo would equalize on a shot by Boniek Garcia. Garcia's shot hit woodwork, however the woodwork was kind, the ball bounced in, and all of the Union's hard work was felt for naught as the teams went into the break level at one. On the whole, though, the Union had played well against a playoff contender, so there was reason for optimism heading into the second half.
That optimism turned out to be warranted. The Union would earn a penalty in the 50th minute after Andre Hainault pulled down Sheanon Williams in the box It was a clear penalty and the official was right to point to the spot. Freddy Adu would go on to convert the penalty for his second goal of the game and injure himself in the same moment. Adu would eventually need to be subbed out of the game as a result.
The key word is "eventually" because Adu was off to the side receiving treatment for five minutes while the Union played with ten men. Apparently kicking the ball out of bounds to make a sub in is a foreign concept these days. Or perhaps the Union just wanted to take part in the oodles of fun that is playing with ten men. Both schools of thought are perfectly reasonable.
The Union got their third and final goal in the 71st minute when Josue Martinez sent received a pass in the box from Amobi Okugo. Martinez, in a clearly offside position, easily slotted the ball past a helpless Hall.
The Dynamo were calling for offside, and they were absolutely right to complain. Martinez was offside by what must have been a couple yards. He got credit for a goal he did not deserve, but ultimately, the Union would hang on to win and all three points would be deserved, despite a couple chances at the end from the Dynamo.
As rough of a season as this has been, the Union were the superior team this afternoon. And while winning games now probably is not the best result for the Union in the long-term, it is hard to not feel at least little good about beating a playoff contender as decisively as the Union beat the Dynamo today, especially after everything Philadelphia has gone through in the past couple months.