CHESTER, Pa. – Sebastien Le Toux continued his streak of scoring in home openers as the Philadelphia Union defeated the New England Revolution 1-0 in front of a sold-out crowd at PPL Park on Saturday.
Surprise starter Leo Fernandes added an assist and Zac MacMath earned the shutout with three saves for the Union, who remain unbeaten on the season at 1-0-1.
The Revs fall to 0-2-0 and have been outscored 5-0 through two road matches this year. New England is 0-4-2 all-time at PPL Park.
The Union got on the board in the 30th minute after Fernandes – a late addition to the starting lineup in place of captain Brian Carroll (illness) – made a nice turn to beat Andrew Farrell. The second-year midfielder then ran in alone on net before playing a ball across the face of goal that Le Toux tapped in.
Le Toux now has six goals and an assist in the last five home openers for his teams – four in Philadelphia (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014) and one with Vancouver (2012). The Frenchman also had a goal and two assists in the first-ever game at PPL Park in 2010, which was not technically the Union’s home opener that season.
The Union had other chances to score in the first half. In the 19th minute, a Maurice Edu header off a Cristian Maidana corner kick was cleared off the line. And six minutes later, New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth came up big to stop a redirected shot from Jack McInerney off a line-drive ball into the box from Fernandes.
The Revolution, though, perhaps had the best-first half scoring chance when Teal Bunbury ran wide open down the left flank and played a ball across the middle to an equally wide open Diego Fagundez. But MacMath got his foot on Fagundez’s one-touch blast to preserve the shutout.
The Revs didn’t have much to hang their hat on otherwise as the Union dominated the run of play in the first half, controlling 71.9 percent of the possession, completing 85.6 percent of their passes and racking up eight attempts on goal.
Both teams had few chances in the second half as the Union nervously held on to their one-goal lead one week after giving up a game-tying, stoppage-time goal in Portland.
Both teams were playing a bit shorthanded. The Union were not only missing Carroll – who’s started 30 or more games in each of the last three seasons for Philly – but were also without the services of striker Conor Casey (strained calf) and right back Sheanon Williams (strained quad). For the Revs, 2013 MLS Defender of the Year Jose Goncalves was a surprise omission from the 18, and defender Kevin Alston and midfielder Kelyn Rowe also didn’t play.
Center back Amobi Okugo wore the armband in Carroll’s place and, in his first time captaining the Union in an MLS match, anchored the defense to a shutout.
The Union return to action next Saturday with a road match against Columbus, while New England comes home to face Vancouver.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Maurice Edu||Granted, New England's midfield was nonexistant, but Edu did everything expected of him and more.|
|2||Sebastien Le Toux||Wasteful in a few isolated instances, but his movement and interplay was top notch, especially on the goal.|
|3||Leo Fernandes||A late addition to the lineup, he was tidy in possession, active on the defensive side of the ball and a threat going forward.|