CHESTER, Pa. – When the Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC met for the first time back on April 15, the Reds frustrated a 10-man Philly side into 2-1 defeat, ultimately won from the penalty spot by Dwayne De Rosario.
On Saturday night, it was the Union’s turn, and time for a manager to celebrate how far his team has come in just three months.
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“We won this game,” the Union’s Peter Nowak said Saturday. “It’s the three points we’ve been after. I think in the game in Toronto, it was a bit easier for them. They were at home and they put out a faster side. The game was quite open and they got the second goal from the penalty spot and since then I think they’ve improved as well. For us, getting the three points in a game we really needed after the Celtic game. You can see that we are getting better.”
It’s tough to argue Nowak’s point after a second win in four days for the Union, who topped Scottish giants Celtic FC on Wednesday night at PPL Park.
The hero in that one was Sebastien Le Toux, and the Union’s prized Frenchman saved the day again on Saturday. He coolly stepped up to the penalty spot in the last minute of stoppage time and expertly placed the shot home to end Toronto’s eight-match unbeaten run.
The win also helped erase the memories of the Union’s last MLS outing, a 2-1 loss to San Jose that slipped away on a stoppage-time goal for the Earthquakes.
“I don’t think we fell asleep last week,” Le Toux said. “We were unlucky not to score. We had lots of options to score, maybe more than today. We were really frustrated in that match, and especially to have that goal against us. Maybe tonight we were able to ignore it as we were very prepared to really be strong and to not give up the easy goal like we used to. We are very happy that tonight things went our way.”
Hindered earlier in the season by silly individual mistakes and a lack of team unity, the squad has come together nicely for Nowak, who praised the team’s youngsters in the latest win.
“I believe the quality is getting much better and the players are getting smarter,” Nowak said. “Especially the young kids. You guys know me and that I say that this is still a work in progress, and it really is. We work and work and work, and eventually we get the reward at the end. We push against San Jose and get punished for it, but we push today and get rewarded for it.”
“It’s a simple game, but it’s a very funny game,” he added. “We just need to keep making adjustments and concentrate on moving forward.”