A strong second-half performance and goals from Freddy Adu and Brian Carroll pushed the Philadelphia Union past the Seattle Sounders for a 2-0 win at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Saturday night.
The Union won for the second time in the past three games thanks largely to a defense that stifled the potent Seattle attack and some opportunistic finishing. It marks Philly's third win in their last five games and pushed them to the top of the Eastern Conference with two games left in the season.
The night started slow, with both teams looking sloppy in midfield and largely unable to generate quality chances. The best look of the first half fell to Sounders midfielder Brad Evans in the 35th minute after he latched onto a pull-back from Lamar Neagle, but Evans skied his shot over Zac MacMath's net.
Things opened up in the second half, however, with both sides threatening to score early. The best chance again came through Evans, who found room at the top of the box and tried a cheeky chip of MacMath. The 'keeper was beaten, but the woodwork came to the rescue and kept it scoreless.
Philly came right back down the other end of the field and conjured up a great chance thank to some clever work from Justin Mapp. The erstwhile winger found himself central, spun away from a defender and charged in on Kasey Keller's net. Mapp laid it off to Sébastien Le Toux, in the area, but the Frenchman scuffed his shot making for an easy save by Keller.
Minutes later, however, Philly would finally find the opener courtesy of the mercurial Adu.
The play started with a quick switch from Sheanon Williams, who found Gabriel Farfan in acres of space down the left-hand side. The winger managed to beat defender James Riley along the endline, then pulled it back to Adu, who was waiting at the corner of the six-yard box. Adu made no mistake, smashing a left-footed blast into the roof of the net past a helpless Keller.
10 minutes later the Union were at it again. After enduring wave after wave of Sounders attacks, Le Toux got loose on a counter and was off to the races. Carroll went with him, and was rewarded for his hustle when Le Toux slipped a pass through the retreating Seattle defense to put the d-mid in on Keller. Carroll finished clinically, firing low and hard to the back post for his first goal of the season.
The Sounders, who were playing without a host of attackers including MVP candidates Fredy Montero (yellow-card accumulation) and Mauro Rosales (injury), were further hamstrung when stalwart defender Jeff Parke went off with a concussion at halftime. Though the effort was there throughout the squad, the legs largely weren't from the side that won the US Open Cup earlier in the week.
Philly (11-7-14, 47 points) move two points above Sporting KC into the Eastern Conference driver's seat. They next take the field on Saturday, Oct 15, when they host Toronto FC.
Seattle (16-7-9, 57 points) stay second in the West, but are eliminated from the Supporters' Shield race. With the result, the LA Galaxy clinched their second straight Shield.
The Sounders are next in action on Oct. 15 when they host San Jose. A win or a draw will clinch second place in the West.
PHI -- Freddy Adu 2 (Gabriel Farfan 2) 60
PHI -- Brian Carroll 1 (Sebastien Le Toux 9) 70
SEA -- Lamar Neagle (caution; Reckless Foul) 63
Philadelphia Union -- Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Gabriel Farfan, Michael Farfan, Brian Carroll, Justin Mapp (Jack McInerney 86), Freddy Adu (Amobi Okugo 75), Sebastien Le Toux, Veljko Paunovic (Stefani Miglioranzi 89).
Substitutes Not Used: Danny Mwanga, Kyle Nakazawa, Roger Torres, Chase Harrison.
Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke (Patrick Ianni 46), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Lamar Neagle, Mike Fucito (Nate Jaqua 68), Pat Noonan (Sammy Ochoa 62).
Substitutes Not Used: Alvaro Fernandez, Roger Levesque, Zach Scott, Josh Ford.
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee's Assistants: George Gansner; Ian Anderson
4th Official: Ramon Hernandez
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 62 degrees