CHESTER, Pa. – It’s never an easy task playing the top team in Major League Soccer, whether it’s at home or on the road.
On Thursday night, the league-leading Los Angeles Galaxy were in Philadelphia to take on the Union and the result went as expected – but not the match itself.
On the front foot for the majority of the 90 minutes, Philadelphia bullied the visitors across the pitch and, despite falling 1-0 thanks to an Edson Buddle goal from a corner, the Union were reasonably satisfied with the strong performance they put in at PPL Park in front of a record crowd.
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
Team manager Peter Nowak emphasized how his side was the better team even if the three points are headed back to Southern California with the Galaxy.
“I’m very proud of these boys,” said Nowak at his postgame press conference. “Considering we played a very strong 90 minutes with the full pressure. We never slowed down. With Edson and [Landon] Donovan and David Beckham, you always have to consider that something will come up.
“I think in every department we were a stronger [team] than the LA Galaxy. It seems to me that there are a lot of things to be proud of. We played very well. From the movement to the ball movement to the guys in the back, everything was very clean.
With two matches left to play, both against playoff-bound teams New York and Columbus, playing at a high level will be key if the team wants to end its first season on a positive note.
According to Union captain Danny Califf, the team has been moving towards these types of matches all season and, even though they weren’t able to win, the way they played as a unit should really be applauded.
“It’s about the evolution of the team,” said Califf of how his team played on Thursday. “The loss is never a positive result, so let’s not talk about that. We’re evolving as a team and we’re getting better. It sucks to lose, but at the same time, you’re seeing us as a team mature. That’s a good thing as it’s something to build on.”
Califf and the rest of the Union defense were able to hold the Galaxy to only three shots on goal from six total and they kept Donovan and Beckham out of the game for long stretches.
The Galaxy were strong at the back as well, shutting out the Union at home for the first time this season. For Nowak, though, the team’s play in defeat against a team like LA was something that will be huge going forward.
“I think we played better than we did against Chivas USA [a 3-0 Union win],” said Nowak of the match. “Except in the final third, we were missing the final touch. Sometimes you come to the positions easily and then take those chances lightly.
"We played very well and we’re moving forward. For this young group, seeing this first hand, playing against the LA Galaxy this way as they did today, there are a lot of things to be proud of.”