Philadelphia Union make their 2011 season debut at their PPL Park home when they entertain one of the members of this year’s expansion class, Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The Union opened their second season with a road victory, winning 1-0 at the Houston Dynamo. Whitecaps FC began their MLS history in impressive fashion, knocking off Toronto FC 4-2 at their Empire Field home.
REFEREE: Yader Reyes. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Paul Scott; 4th: Chris Penso
MLS Career: 10 games; FC/gm: 23.2; Y/gm: 2.9; R: 2; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: PHILADELPHIA UNION – QUESTIONABLE: DF Danny Califf (L knee meniscus); PROBABLE: DF Juan Diego González (L hip flexor strain) … VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC – OUT: MF Michael Nanchoff (groin strain); DOUBTFUL: MF Shea Salinas (R knee sprain); MF John Thorrington (R quad strain); MF Davide Chiumiento (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Russell Teibert (R hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: PHI: Zac MacMath, Amobi Okugo (U.S. U-20s) … VAN: Michael Boxall (New Zealand); Jay DeMerit (USA); Omar Salgado (U.S. U-20s)
ALL-TIME: First meeting.
RETURN MATCH: 6/18: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Philadelphia Union, 7 p.m. PT
Coaches record: Peter Nowak vs. VAN: first game … Teitur Thordarson v PHI: first game
Philadelphia Union opened their second campaign on the road and came away with a victory, defeating the Houston Dynamo 1-0 at Robertson Stadium.
- The only goal of the game came after just five minutes. A long throw into the box from Sheanon Williams from the right was turned onto the post by Sebastien Le Toux, but Danny Califf was there to prod home the rebound.
- [inline_node:331733]Union boss Peter Nowak featured a trio of his offseason acquisitions in his starting XI, with goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, center back Carlos Valdes and MLS returnee Carlos Ruiz getting starts.
- PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-2): Faryd Mondragon - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey - Kyle Nakazawa (Gabriel Farfan 70), Stefani Miglioranzi, Brian Carroll, Justin Mapp (Danny Mwanga 58) - Carlos Ruiz (Amobi Okugo 85), Sebastien Le Toux.
- The Union’s first victory away from home as a club also came in Houston, last May 29, but they finished their first season with just two road victories, tied for fewest in the league.
- “I think we were very disciplined. We knew it was going to be a physical game. Maybe we didn’t create as many chances as we could, or should, but sometimes soccer shouldn’t be pretty,” said Nowak. “If you have a win like that, against a phenomenal, organized team, it says a lot about these guys in the locker room, the way they treat the game, and how they approach it.”
- Faryd Mondragon made three saves for the shutout for Philadelphia in his MLS debut. In their inaugural campaign, the Union went 22 games before recording a shutout, the first finally coming Sept. 11 vs. Chicago.
- [inline_node:331438]“Faryd showed leadership and played with confidence, which spread to the team and is great for the confidence of our young guys,” said Nowak.
- In seven MLS seasons, Danny Califf had scored seven goals; his goal in Houston was his first in the league since 2005 with the San Jose Earthquakes. "I think I'm the last guy anybody thought would score a goal, even over our goalie," Califf said.
- Califf also marshaled the back four, after a season where Philadelphia conceded 49 goals, one behind the New England Revolution, who allowed a league-high 50.
- “Danny played a very good game today with Carlos Valdes in the middle. … They had basically three shots on goal that weren’t very dangerous,” Nowak said. “The one shot [Dominic] Oduro missed was a big chance for them, but aside from that, our backline played very well.”
- Nowak started Carlos Ruiz in attack with Sebastien Le Toux, bringing Danny Mwanga off the bench for the final half-hour.
- "We had a couple counterattacks with open space, and we need to finish and provide that final pass," Nowak said. "It didn't happen, but after the first game there is still a lot of room to improve."
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC kicked off their inaugural MLS campaign with a magical afternoon at Empire Field, defeating Toronto FC 4-2 on Saturday in the first all-Canadian game in league history.
- Whitecaps FC opened the scoring with the first goal of the club’s MLS history, as Eric Hassli finished a Davide Chiumiento cross that was deflected on by Atiba Harris.
- [inline_node:331506]But Toronto FC leveled terms five minutes later, Dwayne De Rosario firing home from a through ball by Maicon Santos. It was the 8,000th goal in MLS history.
- Chiumiento slipped in Terry Dunfield in the 26th minute, and his angled shot gave Vancouver a 2-1 lead. Harris then made it 3-1 after the break, knocking home a shot from a corner kick scramble.
- Hassli finished off his double in the 72nd minute, strolling in to knock the ball into an unguarded goal after Wes Knight was sent in all alone behind the TFC defense. Maicon Santos finished the scoring with a long-range blast two minutes later.
- Whitecaps FC head coach Teitur Thordarson started three Swiss imports in his first XI – defender Alain Rochat, winger Davide Chiumiento and striker Eric Hassli. Canadian youth international Russell Teibert made his debut on the left of midfield.
- VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-4-2): Jay Nolly – Jonathan Leathers, Jay DeMerit, Michael Boxall, Alain Rochat - Davide Chiumiento (Nizar Khalfan 46), Gershon Koffie, Terry Dunfield, Russell Teibert (Wes Knight 69) - Atiba Harris, Eric Hassli (Camilo 83).
- Whitecaps FC became just the third of 10 MLS expansion teams all-time to win their inaugural match. The previous two – the Chicago Fire in 1998 and Seattle Sounders FC in 2008 – each reached the MLS Cup Playoffs.
- Eric Hassli matched the achievement of Seattle’s Fredy Montero in scoring multiple goals in the first game for an expansion club, the only players to do so.
- “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Hassli said to the Globe and Mail. “It was incredible. It was fantastic. It helped us. In the moments when we were fatigued, or not as good, it was precious and helped us get over. And the guys battled like lions.”
- 29-year-old Vancouver native Terry Dunfield played a part in the opener and scored the second goals. “It's my home fans,” he said. “They were going crazy, I was going crazy and it was fun.”
- If there was a downer, it came with the halftime substitution of Davide Chiumiento, who recorded two assists on the afternoon. He said he injured a hamstring while setting up Dunfield’s goal.
- [inline_node:330480]"It's not ideal, but that's the way it is," Thordarson said. "Davide, we don't have any real timeline on it. We have to take it day-by-day, but it doesn't look very good thinking about Saturday. We have some decisions to make, there's no doubt about that."
- Two other starters will be away on international duty. Center backs Jay DeMerit and Michael Boxall have been called in by the USA and New Zealand respectively, while livewire winger Russell Teibert has been called into the Canadian U-20 national team, though he will join the squad after the Philadelphia match.
- "It's a challenge for us," Thordarson said, "but we have young players here and they are hungry to get on the field and they will be OK. I think it's great we have national team players. And, we are not in a position really to deny that."
- Greg Janicki missed the opener with a calf injury but looks likely to fill one center back spot, with rookies Bilal Duckett and Jeb Brovsky also in contention. Alain Rochet could move from left back.
- "I'm extremely happy with Alain at left back," Thordarson said. "He's doing a great job and I don't want to move him too much. But he has great experience playing centre back and we will definitely keep that in mind."
- Shea Salinas has been battling back from a knee injury suffered some three weeks ago in preseason but is valiantly attempting to be ready to face Union. “Never count me out for an appearance, especially against my old club,” he said.