By: Todd Kurpel
A win on Wednesday, September 15th over the San Jose Earthquakes, would have jumped the Philadelphia Union over Chivas USA and Chicago and put them in a position where they were six points away from the final playoff spot with the team having six matches left to play in the MLS regular season. However, the Union were unable to score against San Jose, and with the 1-0 victory, it was the Earthquakes who solidified their position in the playoff hunt. With the win, the Earthquakes sit in the 6th playoff position, and have distanced themselves by eight points over ninth place Toronto FC.
In a match that saw Union goalkeeper Brad Knighton making his second consecutive start in goal over Chris Seitz, both teams were unable to score in the first half. The Union had plenty of chances, however, as they controlled the tempo throughout the match. San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch was tested frequently in the first half and was able to make key saves on strikes by Stefani Miglioranzi, Andrew Jacobson and Alejandro Moreno.[picappgallerysingle id=”9790769″]
San Jose was finally able to break through in the 69th minute, by taking advantage of a Union defense that appeared to be caught off guard. Earthquakes’ Bobby Convey sent a cross from the left that found its way to an unmarked Arturo Alvarez. Alvarez crossed the ball back in front of goal, where Earthquakes’ leading scorer Chris Wondoloski was able to head the service past a diving Knighton who put a hand on it but was unable to make the stop. Wondoloski had three defenders around him, but the Union were not able to react in time to prevent the score. The goal was Wondoloski’s ninth of the season.
To try and find an equalizer, the Union subbed in attackers Danny Mwanga and Jack McInerney. The Union kept the pressure up for the next twenty minutes, but were unable to get the tying goal. It appeared that the team was once again going to find magic in stoppage time when Sebastien Le Toux took a free kick and found Shea Salinas who was open just inside the top of the box. Salinas sent a ball into the mass in front of the goal, which was redirected into a perfectly positioned Busch. The play ended up being the match’s last with the Earthquakes holding onto the shutout.
The Union will have time to rest as there next match is not until September 25th when they host Chivas USA at PPL Park. If the Union are to make the playoffs, they will need near flawless play over the course of their next six matches. The Earthquakes will next play Toronto FC in Toronto, also on September 25th.