CHESTER, Pa. – Sheanon Williams didn’t have time to formulate much of a plan.
The only thing the Philadelphia Union right back knew he had to do was quickly get behind goalkeeper Zac MacMath and try to cover the back post.
What resulted was one of the Union’s best defensive plays of the season as Williams, while still backpedaling, made a stunning second-half goal-line save to preserve Philly’s 2-0 shutout win over D.C. United on Saturday (watch the video above).
“Any time something dangerous like that happens I like to get behind Zac just in case,” Williams said. “This was one of those times where being in the right place came at a good time.”
Williams has made a habit of using his head to clear away danger over the past couple of seasons but none have been as impressive as the one in Saturday’s game. The right back was actually trailing the play as D.C. United star Dwayne De Rosario knifed through three other Union defenders, before racing behind the scrum just as Conor Doyle pounced on the ball after De Rosario was tackled and blasted a shot past MacMath.
Had Williams not been in just the right spot to head the shot away, Doyle would have tied the contest at 1-1 and perhaps altered the course of the game.
“You knew they were going to get their chances,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “The clearance by Sheanon exemplifies the kind of critical play that we knew we had to make if we were going to get the three points.”
Williams’ clearance also allowed the Union to pick up their third shutout in the past four games. For the season, the club now has eight clean sheets, one of the best totals in the league.
The Union also closing in on their preseason objective of earning 10 shutouts, which they believe is part of the formula to make the playoffs.
“We know what our job is,” said Williams, who also added his eighth assist of the season in Saturday's win. “Our job is to get shutouts. And that’s what we did.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org