CHESTER, Pa. – It took more than a month but the Philadelphia Union finally have a win in 2012.
Led by a penalty kick goal from Gabriel Gómez, the well-timed return to the lineup for Freddy Adu and the second straight shutout from goalie Zac MacMath, the Union posted a 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park.
With the result, the Union move to 1-3-1 and have now earned points in their past two games after three straight losses to start the ’12 campaign. The Crew drop to 2-3 with the loss.
After Philly went 241 minutes without a goal, Adu made a nice move and took a shot that found the hand of the Crew’s Eric Gehrig, who was whistled for a handball in the box. Gómez stepped up to the circle and then finished off the penalty kick to put the Union up 1-0 in the 37th minute.
That’s the way the score would stay.
Adu, who missed the last three games due to Olympic qualifying, created other scoring opportunities and took the corner kicks for the Union before coming off for Josué Martinez in the 61st minute.
While Adu returned to the lineup, captain Danny Califf was a late scratch for Philly after injuring his hamstring during warmups. Rookie Raymon Gaddis was called on to replace him and, in his MLS debut, blocked a close-range shot from Crew forward Aaron Schoenfeld in the 22nd minute.
Philadelphia’s Sheanon Williams, who slid over to center back in Califf’s absence, also had a nice clearance in the box, on an Olman Vargas header, late in the first half.
The Crew’s best scoring chance came when Vargas found himself alone on net in the 54th minute but MacMath came flying off his line to make the save.
Goal-scoring threat Emilio Rentería was inserted into the game in the 68th minute for the Crew but the visitors still couldn’t find the back of net, thanks in large part to a strong game from MacMath and Philly’s makeshift backline.
In the 75th minute, Kirk Urso sent a well-placed cross in but the Union’s young ’keeper came off his line to make a leaping snag.
In the 83rd minute, Lionard Pajoy – who played as a lone striker for much of the afternoon – tried to add an insurance goal for Philly but his near-breakaway was thwarted at the last moment by Crew defender Chad Marshall.
A late, frenetic push didn’t go anywhere by the Crew, who have now lost two straight.
The Union return to action with a West Coast game against Chivas USA next weekend, while Columbus return home to face Houston.