Philadelphia Union 0, Toronto FC 1 | MLS Match Recap
CHESTER, Pa. – Toronto FC are going home with a winning streak.
Fueled by a free kick goal from Sebastian Giovinco and a shutout recorded by reserve goalkeeper Chris Konopka, Toronto (3-4-0) defeated the Philadelphia Union 1-0 at PPL Park on Saturday, closing their season-opening seven-game road trip with two straight shutout wins. The Reds open their 2015 slate at a renovated BMO Field on Sunday, May 10.
The reeling Union (1-6-3) have now lost three straight and remain stuck on one win this season, continuing their worst start in franchise history.
Giovinco had the only score of the game in the 34th minute with a beautiful strike on a free kick from about 35 yards out, bending his shot into the corner of the net past the outstretched arms of Union goalkeeper John McCarthy. It was Giovinco’s fourth goal in the team’s last four games and the second to come directly from a free kick.
The Italian playmaker nearly had another one but Philly center back Richie Marquez – who was called upon to make his MLS debut when Michael Lahoud left with an early quad injury and captain Maurice Edu was pushed into the midfield – made a goal-line save in the 11th minute.
The Union goalkeeper's best save came in the 23rd minute when the rookie denied a wide open Robbie Findley from point-blank range.
Konopka replaced the injured Joe Bendik, who was out with a plantar fascia strain, to make his first MLS appearance since May 26, 2012 – which, coincidentally, was in Toronto while he was a member of the Union. Before Saturday, that game was also the last time Toronto defeated the Union.
The former Philly ’keeper finished with just one save for Toronto but he cleared away serious danger in the 53rd minute by pushing the ball over the crossbar after a Maidana set-piece delivery.
The Union kept the pressure on Konopka and the visitors' backline nearly finding the equalizer in the 79th minute. But Fernando Aristeguieta was ruled offside after he headed in a Maidana free kick.
Philadelphia returns to action on Saturday, May 9 in Vancouver (7 pm ET on TSN2 and MLS LIVE). Toronto will face Houston in their home opener on Sunday (5 pm ET on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, TSN and RDS2).