CHESTER, Pa. – With his team's season on the line, a forgotten man came through for the Philadelphia Union.
Brazilian midfielder Kleberson, who had played just 10 total minutes in the last 16 games, scored on a free kick deep into second-half stoppage time to lift the Union to a thrilling 1-0 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday night at PPL Park.
The first career MLS goal for the World Cup veteran could not have come at a better time for the 10-man Union (12-10-9), who vaulted back above the red line in the crowded Eastern Conference playoff race.
Before Kleberson’s stunning game-winner, Philly applied heavy pressure for much of the second half but their momentum took a hit in the 77th minute when left midfielder Fabinho was issued a straight red card for appearing to stomp on Alvaro Rey along the sideline.
Rey and Toronto made a number of threatening 2-v-1 runs down the field as the Union pressed for the win despite being a man down, but solid defensive plays, including one by Raymon Gaddis prevented the road side at finding the back of the net.
Shortly after Fabinho’s ejection, Rey drew another card, leading to a free kick from leading scorer Robert Earnshaw that pinged off the crossbar for a Toronto (5-16-11) team trying to play the role of spoiler.
But the Union defense held strong for their second straight shutout and 12th of the season.
In the 60th minute, two minutes after coming on, Hoppenot blasted one off the post following a great run down the middle of the field from speedy midfielder Danny Cruz. Then, in the 64th minute, Hoppenot made a nifty move of his own to break free but shanked his shot. The second-year striker put himself into other good positions but failed to score.
The Union controlled nearly 60 percent of the possession in the first half but both teams had equally good chances to open up the scoring.
Philly’s best opportunity probably came in the 40th minute when Michael Farfan, earning the start in the central midfield ahead of Keon Daniel, blasted a shot from distance that Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik dove to bat away. About 25 minutes earlier, the Union also nearly scored when, on a counter attack, Fabinho played a goal across the face of goal just out of reach of a sliding McInerney.
Toronto controlled the match in the early going, but couldn't capitalize on several attempts in the Union defensive third. Bright Dike applied a lot of pressure on his right flank position, creating a number of threatening crosses that went awry. In the 20th minute, Dike got around Union defender Jeff Parke, but Parke recovered and tackled the ball away to nullify the threat.
In the ninth minute, Philly native Bobby Convey thought he got Toronto on the board but his shot went just wide. A few minutes later, MacMath made two of his three first-half saves in a one-minute span, including one on Jonathan Osorio from the middle of the box after a dangerous buildup.
The Union return to action with a road game next week at D.C United, while Toronto is off a week before traveling to Chicago on Oct. 19.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Antoine Hoppenot||When the Union striker came on in the 57th minute, the game tilted into the Union's favor, and TFC's defense wore down.|
|2||Kleberson||Another Union sub made the most of his shortened minutes, burying a golazo free kick late in stoppage time for the win.|
|3||Joe Bendik||Toronto's keeper was the best player on the field much of the match, making several big stops to keep his club competitive.|