CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union had one thing in mind when they came back out of the tunnel for the second half of Saturday’s game against the San Jose Earthquakes:
Vindicating Jordan Harvey.
Harvey – the Union’s ever-steady defender who led the club in minutes played last season – was forced to an early exit after being handed a controversial red card in the 41st minute for allegedly kicking San Jose’s Chris Leitch.
WATCH: Harvey gets red card
Although his teammates unanimously agreed the call was the wrong one, they still felt obligated to continue to go for the three points in Harvey’s absence. And despite being down a man throughout the second half, they did just that, escaping PPL Park with a penalty kick goal from Sebastien Le Toux and an inspired 1-0 victory.
WATCH: Full match highlights
“He was obviously upset at halftime,” Union defender Danny Califf said of Harvey. “But when we came up with a win, he was the first one to congratulate everybody. I think he really felt relief and a little weight off his shoulders, even though he didn’t do anything to really deserve it.”
Because they were down a man, the Union certainly would have had an excuse had they lost this game, or at the very least if they played for a tie. Instead, the added adversity seemed to inspire them to attack the goal with even more fervor.
“Once we got the red card, everyone came in here and regrouped,” said Union defender Sheanon Williams. “We said that they weren’t going to get any easy points. They were going to have to work for everything they got. I thought we kept the pressure on, even playing a man down.”
While they knew they wanted to go for the win, the amount of open space they were able to create was still surprising, as were the good scoring looks in or around the 18-yard box.
“I think they dropped off quite a bit,” Califf said of San Jose. “Maybe they thought they’d be able to dictate more of the game because they were up a man, but they sat back a little too much and allowed us the space to play. We played with a lot of confidence.”
For much of the season, the Union have struggled to generate many goals. Perhaps Saturday’s second half is the kind of jolt they need not only to jumpstart the offense but also continue to show the rest of the league what kind of character they have.
“We started believing that we can win this game,” Union manager Peter Nowak said. “It’s really important for this group to overcome the obstacles that we had with the red card.”