Philadelphia Union players, coaches and fans all knew the goals would start to come for a club that’s been offensively lifeless for much of the 2010 season.
But even the most ardent optimist would have had a hard time predicting what transpired Saturday afternoon in Toronto.
Playing an inspired brand of attacking soccer, the Union utterly dismantled the Toronto FC defense en route to a 6-2 north-of-the-border triumph.
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: Toronto 2, Philadelphia 6
“We had a lot of doubters, a lot of people tell us that we couldn’t score,” said rookie Gabriel Farfan, who scored the first of the six goals. “And I think we proved them wrong today.”
How unlikely was Philly’s six-goal explosion? Consider:
- The Union doubled the franchise record for goals in a game. Last year, they scored three times in four different contests.
- The Union came into Saturday’s game tied for last in the league with eight total goals. With 14 goals, they are now tied for fourth.
- The Union scored as many goals vs. Toronto as they scored in their first nine games of the season.
- In their first four road games, the Union scored only one time, and they had been shut out in their last three trips.
Perhaps even more surprising than the six goals from a general standpoint is who scored for first-place Philadelphia (5-3-2) – and who did not.
Farfan and Kyle Nakazawa both scored their first career MLS goals, while Justin Mapp netted his first two goals of the season. Second-year striker Danny Mwanga, who hasn’t been as much of a scoring threat this year as he was in his rookie campaign, also enjoyed a two-goal game for the Union.
Interestingly enough, the outburst came with one of the league’s all-time leading scorers – Carlos Ruiz – on the bench. And Sebastien Le Toux, who led the team with 14 goals in 2010, was held out of the scoring column, although the Frenchman did post two assists on the day.
“That shows we have depth within our team,” Farfan said. “Anyone can come on and score goals and do the job.”
Against Toronto, the Union showed opportunism (Farfan took advantage of Toronto defender Dan Gargan’s misjudgment defending a cross), aggression (both of Mapp’s goals came on shots from distance), teamwork (Nakazawa’s goal late in the first half came after the club strung six passes together), and resilience (Mwanga scored the final two goals to help quell a Toronto comeback).
Even goalie Faryd Mondragon almost got in on the offensive fun when one of his goal kicks took a wicked bounce over the head of Toronto goalie Stefan Frei, who had to scramble back to save it off the goal line.
It was just that kind of day for the Union.
“I think today we all worked together,” Farfan said. “We understood our positioning on the field. We understood everyone’s tendencies today. We never took our foot on the pedal. We just kept attacking, attacking.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.