Preview: Philly face tough task vs. first-place Quakes
PHILADELPHIA UNION vs SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
PPL PARK, Chester, Pa.
April 28, 2012 (WEEK 8, MLS Game #67)
7 p.m. ET (CSN-Phi; CSN-BA)
Philadelphia Union return home with a two-game winning streak in tow, meeting the Western Conference leaders when the San Jose Earthquakes come to PPL Park on Saturday afternoon. Union are coming off just their second-ever victorious trip to the West Coast, a 1-0 win at Chivas USA. The Quakes took over the top spot in the West for the first time since the club's return to MLS, knocking off Real Salt Lake 3-1 at home in a top-of-the-table clash last weekend.
REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Bill Dittmar; 4th: Daniel Fitzgerald
MLS Career: 130 games; FC/gm: 24.9; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 47; pens: 48
- PHILADELPHIA UNION - OUT: MF Roger Torres (L knee menisectomy/MCL sprain/bone contusion); FW Krystian Witkowski (concussion); DOUBTFUL: DF Gabriel Farfan (L hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Sheanon Williams (L knee MCL sprain); PROBABLE: DF Danny Califf (L hamstring strain); GK Chris Konopka (L wrist sprain)
- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: DF Victor Bernardez (L knee MCL sprain); MF Joey Gjertsen (R knee surgery); FW Alan Gordon (L hamstring strain); MF Cesar Diaz Pizarro (R hamstring strain); MF Shea Salinas (L clavicle fracture); DF Tim Ward (L non-specific soft tissue injury); DOUBTFUL: DF Ramiro Corrales (R calf strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Ike Opara (R hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: PHI: Keon Daniel (through April 28); Gabriel Farfan (through April 28); Peter Nowak (manager; through May 5)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: SJ: Steven Lenhart
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: PHI: Gabriel Gomez
ALL-TIME (4 meetings): Union 1 win, 2 goals ... Earthquakes 2 wins, 3 goals ... Ties 1
AT PHILADELPHIA (2 meetings): Union 1 win, 2 goals ... Earthquakes 1 win, 2 goals ... Ties 0
LAST YEAR (MLS):
4/30: PHI 1, SJ 0 (Le Toux 76)
7/9: SJ 0, PHI 0
- This is the only league meeting between the clubs this season.
- Union defeated the Earthquakes for the first time last season, a 1-0 win at PPL Park on April 30. The Quakes won both meetings in Philadelphia's inaugural season; the teams also reached a draw last year at San Jose.
- Coaches record: Peter Nowak vs. SJ: P9 W3 L3 D3 ... Frank Yallop vs. PHI: P4 W2 L1 D1
Philadelphia Union won for the second time in as many weeks, getting the game's only goal in a victory against Chivas USA on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. Union are in a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 7 points from 6 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: Adu backheel seals victory for Union
- The visitors took the lead in the 40th minute. Michael Farfan weaved his way around Chivas defender Heath Pearce and fired a low ball into the goalmouth. James Riley's muffed clearance fell to Freddy Adu, who quickly back-heeled the ball into an empty net.
- Union finished the match two players down. In the 75th minute, Union's Keon Daniel received a straight red for a studs-up challenge on Chivas USA's Ryan Smith, then 10 minutes later, Gabriel Farfan was sent off after a hard tackle on Chivas defender James Riley. That incident was followed by Union manager Peter Nowak entering the field, an act that earned him his marching orders.
- Union boss Peter Nowak made no changes to the team that recorded a 1-0 win against the Columbus Crew at PPL Park.
- PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-1-1): Zac MacMath - Raymon Gaddis, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams, Gabriel Farfan (sent off 85) - Keon Daniel (sent off 75), Gabriel Gomez (Amobi Okugo 71), Brian Carroll, Freddy Adu (Chris Albright 81) - Michael Farfan (Jack McInerney 92+) - Lionard Pajoy.
Union preview San Jose matchup
- Union have not given up a goal in 332 minutes, with three consecutive shutouts. It's the third-longest streak without conceding a goal in MLS this season, and the longest in the club's history.
- "At the beginning of the season for a couple of weeks, it wasn't pretty," Union manager Peter Nowak said. "But right now it looks we found a good recipe to be hard to play against."
- Goalkeeper Zac MacMath made five saves, behind a backline that remained constant, with Sheanon Williams in a second game in central defense and rookie Raymon Gaddis in his second start at right back. When Gabriel Farfan was sent off late, Chris Albright came on for his first appearance since March 24.
- "Chivas really brought it to us and I think we were ready for the fight," MacMath said. "Obviously going down two guys was tough in the last 15-20 minutes but I'm proud of the guys. ... We stayed together as a team, communicated and worked really hard."
- The goal was created by Michael Farfan in a homecoming, his mazy dribbling run starting the sequence that eventually saw Freddy Adu backheel home his first goal of the season.
- "I was left with a one-vs.-one situation and just figured I'd take a run at him," Michael Farfan said. "I just kind of zig-zagged and was hoping to find a way to get a cross in. Fortunately, it worked out."
- The win at The Home Depot Center was just Union's second all-time in 12 trips to the West Coast. It took until a 1-0 win last Oct. 8 at Seattle for the club to gain its first win in the Pacific time zone.
- "But I think it was a good three points. It's very important to us, especially being on the West Coast where in the last couple of years we didn't have success. It's a tribute to the guys in the locker room who put so much work together," Nowak said.
- After being sent off late in the match, Nowak will be suspended for the next two matches, in a ruling by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, meaning he cannot be in the technical area nor in the dressing room until after the game.
- "I know I was in the wrong spot," Nowak said in his weekly press conference on Wednesday. "I shouldn't have been on the field. So that's my fault to get involved like this."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes ran their undefeated streak to five games, getting a pair of late goals for a 3-1 win against Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Quakes took over the top spot in the Western Conference with 16 points from 7 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: SJ defend their house against RSL
- Real went a man down just 29 minutes into the match, when Fabian Esp"ndola was sent off for a two-footed, studs-up challenge on San Jose midfielder Sam Cronin.
- The Quakes were then able to take advantage in first-half stoppage time. Khari Stephenson snuck a header past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando for his first goal of the season, rising to meet a curling cross from fullback Steven Beitashour.
- The visitors drew even in the 53rd minute. Kyle Beckerman ignited the buildup, creating a turnover in midfield and quickly getting the ball back via Jonny Steele's cutting pass off the left wing. Beckerman ran onto it after a dummy, and then maneuvered past two San Jose defenders before rolling home from 14 yards out.
- RSL went another man down in the 69th minute when Jamison Olave was ejected by referee Elias Bazakos after taking down Quakes forward Steven Lenhart at the edge of the area.
- It took the home side until the 90 minutes were complete to take advantage, but they finally did with two goals in a minute. Two minutes into stoppage time, Simon Dawkins sent home a diving header off a right-wing cross from Beitashour, then Chris Wondolowski scored his league-leading eighth goal off a short chip from Stephenson inside Real Salt Lake's penalty area.
- Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop made four changes to the team that settled for a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Ike Opara, Jason Hernandez, Tressor Moreno and Simon Dawkins came into the team, in place of Victor Bernardez, Ramiro Corrales, Marvin Chavez and Shea Salinas.
- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-1-1): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Ike Opara (Alan Gordon 75), Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow - Tressor Moreno, Sam Cronin (Steven Lenhart 61), Rafael Baca (Sam Garza 82), Simon Dawkins - Khari Stephenson - Chris Wondolowski.
Instant Replay: Examining the week's red cards
- The Earthquakes are in first place in the Western Conference for the first time since the club returned to MLS for the 2008 season. In 2005, when the club moved to Houston from San Jose, the team left as regular-season champions in the Western Conference.
- "We're still going to do what we do, regardless of whether we're at the bottom, middle or top [of the table]," Quakes defender Steven Beitashour said. "We're just going to keep working hard, get better every day and never be content even if we're in third, second or first. We've just got to keep working and give 100 percent effort, and I think we'll stay up there." Added Chris Wondolowski "I don't think we're going to sneak up on anyone. I think that they know that we can play."
- It was the 100th league victory for Frank Yallop, becoming the sixth head coach in MLS history to reach the century mark. "I don't put a lot into it, to be honest," Yallop said. "Obviously, they get counted up and it ends up at 100 wins, but I just want to do well for this club. Hopefully I can get a few more and we can make the playoffs."
- Khari Stephenson again started as an underneath forward, scoring the Earthquakes opening goal. Later, when Steven Lenhart came on as a substitute and moved into the target role up top, Stephenson shifted into a holding role in midfield.
- "He's invaluable in his versatility," Yallop said of Stephenson. "Sam [Cronin] was playing great, too. We just think Khari on the field gave us a better chance to score. Sam's obviously a good possession player, but we needed to keep Khari on the pitch... I think he really earns his spot."
- Stephenson also collected his second assist in as many games, sending in a sublime chip that Wondolowski headed home for his joint league-leading eighth goal of the season.
- "It's great to have a guy like that, who goes from forward to defensive mid," Wondolowski said. "When you have someone you can utilize like that, it's very important and a nice luxury to have. Great goal, great snap header down, and his assist was pretty sublime. He put it on a platter for me, so I liked that."
- All three Earthquakes goals came on headers from crosses (one following a short corner). "We do a lot of crossing and finishing in training, and tonight was one of those nights where we had a lot of crosses and we scored three headers," Stephenson said.
- Added Yallop: "I think service was coming in all night. We put it on Alan (Gordon) and (Steven Lenhart) to shake it up a bit with their power in the box. So, (Chris Wondolowski) gets his goal, and Simon (Dawkins) comes in late with a great finish, too. ... I felt it was just a mature performance by us."
- Left back Ramiro Corrales said he will not likely make the trip to Philadelphia, but with the Quakes facing three games in eight days, squad rotation will be in full effect.
- "There will be lineup changes," Yallop said. "You can't travel all the way over [to Philadelphia], come back and be dynamically fresh Wednesday night, if you've played 90 minutes ... I've got to look at what we're trying to do over the three matches. A lot of the guys are going to get minutes. I've just got to figure out the combinations that are going to play well against Philly."