CHESTER, Pa. -- Well, how about that ... a real "laugher." The Philadelphia Union's 3-0 win over Chivas USA at PPL Park on Saturday afternoon was a rare exhibition by the home side in keeping their fans at ease while seeing out a game to its conclusion.
That's been a rare-to-nonexistent phenomenon in the Union's inaugural season. The team is now 7-12-6 in the league, with five games to go in what has been a mixture of exhilirating thrill ride and head-in-hands moments all mixed together.
My sons, my seat mate Andy Stubbs of Fairless Hills, Pa. ... and all Union fans in general, I think ... have been waiting for that one breakout game where we put a real pasting on some team. Every time we've traveled to PPL Park this season, the usual mantra is "this is the one." But those sentiments had a hard time coming to fruition.
Until Saturday, that is.
Venezuelan striker Alejandro Moreno got the scoring started in the 26th minute, heading the ball into the net on via an assist from Justin Mapp, who has played very well since his midseason acquisition from the Chicago Fire. Moreno is very good at holding the ball up as a target man with his back toward the goal, and when he throws the odd goal in now and again it's an added bonus.
The Union's Brazilian midfielder Fred has been quiet in recent weeks, but his goal in first-half stoppage time (hasn't this man ever heard of the concept of getting to the beer lines early?) made it 2-0 and gave the 16,481 fans who came out on a summerlike September Saturday the feeling that this game might be the one.
The second half was a bit tepid, but French midifelder Sebastien Le Toux's goal from a free kick -- his 12th of the season -- had the Union faithful experiencing something we've all longed for ... namely, the end of a game where there's no nail-biting, no urge to look away from the field as the opponent launches a last-ditch effort to tie or win a game they really have no business being that close in.
A couple of observations:
1) Michael Orozco Fiscal looks much more comfortable as a central defender than an outside back. I really hope we make his loan from San Luis in the Mexican league permanent for next season.
2) I'm starting to warm to Brad Knighton in goal. While not as physically gifted as Chris Seitz, he seems to have that split-secodn quicker of anticipation, and his teammates are feeding of that.
Up next is Colorado on the road Wednesday night. Check back with the blog Thursday morning for a recap.
So, the Philadelphia Independence's fairytale ride through the WPS playoffs ended with a thud Sunday when they lost 4-0 to FC Gold Pride in the league's championship game. But, the season has to be considered a success.
The Independence, led by Amy Rodriguez, played an entertaining brand of soccer, and the vibe at the home games at West Chester University was ... by all accounts ... a good one. Next year should be fun.