Union nab first win vs. Galaxy in stoppage time
CARSON, Calif. – It took a little bit of magic for the Philadelphia Union to do something they had never done before: beat the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Wednesday night at the Home Depot Center, Michael Farfan and Jack McInerney scored two of the best goals of the season to lead the Union to a stunning 2-1 victory over the defending champions.
The game-winner came in the contest’s final minutes after Lionard Pajoy made a stunning backheel pass to Farfan, who slipped one past Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders to snap a 1-1 tie and send shockwaves through a stunned L.A. crowd.
“I can’t say enough about the guys in the locker room,” Union interim manager John Hackworth said. “I’m so proud of them. These kinds of games can define a team.”
Shortly before fans at the Home Depot Center were treated to a Fourth of July fireworks show, they saw some on-field fireworks in what quickly turned into a dramatic game between cross-country foes.
And it was only fitting that, in the end, it was Farfan – a San Diego native who had almost a section full of family and friends on hand to watch him and his twin brother Gabriel – who had the last laugh.
Afterwards, Hackworth praised Farfan for his role in both goals, including the one he carefully placed right inside the back post just before the final whistle blew.
"For Michael and Gabe, I talked to them earlier in the day and said, ‘Look, make sure the people at the Home Depot Center know there are a couple of Southern California boys that can play soccer on the East Coast,’” the Union manager said. “I’m so proud of them. I’ve known those guys for a long time. For Michael, the work he did the whole game, he was Superman. Going up and down, the playmaking, the defending – and then to pull off that kind of classy finish at the end was fantastic."
Farfan showed off his playmaking ability earlier in the game, as well. During stoppage time of the first half, the second-year midfielder made a terrific move along the endline and played a sharp cross along the grass to McInerney. Heavily covered and with his back to the goal, McInerney managed to put a delicious backheel on the ball, which trickled past Josh Saunders and into the net.
“I mean, it’s something that comes to you in the moment,” said McInerney, who’s now scored three goals in the past three games. “That’s the only way I could have finished that opportunity.”
Moments after McInerney’s goal, the whistle blew and the Union (4-9-2) went into the locker room with a 1-0 lead – a remarkable development considering just how many scoring chances the Galaxy (6-10-2) had through the first 45 minutes, despite playing without suspended star David Beckham.
Somehow, Irish international Robbie Keane – who’s scored for 10 different clubs during a long and illustrious career – was stopped on three shots from point-blank range, twice by Union defenders.
In the fifth minute, Philadelphia captain Carlos Valdés saved a Keane shot after the Irishman somehow slipped between a pair of Union defenders. And in the 11th minute, left back Gabriel Farfan did the same thing, using part of his body to keep the game scoreless.
“Obviously we did what we had to do to keep the ball out of the net,” Gabriel Farfan said. “You’re putting your life on the line. Whether you save it with your stomach, your head, you want to stick whatever you can out there. I think the team did a great job with that.”
Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath also had a huge first half, making a big save on Hector Jimenez in the fifth minute and then stopping Keane in the 25th minute, before a mad scramble in the box began in which the hosts had a couple more good scoring chances.
Somehow, though, the Galaxy failed to find the back of the net. MacMath finished with four saves.
“It wasn’t their day; it was ours,” Union right back Sheanon Williams said. “That kind of stuff has been happening to us all year and today the roles were a little bit reversed.”
After striking out on a couple more opportunities early in the second half, including a header off the crossbar from David Junior Lopes, the Galaxy finally broke through in the 73rd minute when sub Chad Barrett finished off a cross that squirted through a few players in the box.
But even with the home crowd going wild, the Union didn’t let the momentum shift get to them as they held off the Galaxy charge until Farfan’s thrilling winner.
“We definitely think this kind of win is a season-changer for us,” McInerney said. “We’ve been playing well lately. We have a couple of home games coming up, and if we string some wins along, we’ll be right back in the playoff race.”Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for CSNPhilly.com and MLSsoccer.com.
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