CHESTER, Pa. -- Although Thursdays contest wasnt without its share of dramatics and hair-pulling frustration, the Union are three points closer to where they want to be.
With a headstrong effort by Michael Farfan to score the deciding goal early in the second half, the Union survived handing back an early two-goal lead to DC United, en route to defeating their Eastern Conference rivals, 3-2, at PPL Park.
I think the team came together very well, said coach Peter Nowak. Its always been our strength to not look back. Its easy to do that after giving up a two-goal lead. I thought we played very good soccer and deserved to win the game. The work we all did, I applaud the group and how well they work together, how well they respect each other and approach the game.
The winning result, their second in three games, pushes the Unions record to 10-7-13 and puts them in second place in the conference with 43 points, just one behind Sporting Kansas City. The Union also hold a game in hand.
The playoff race keeps getting tighter and tighter, said midfielder Amobi Okugo, who earned a start. Teams behind us are pressuring, so this was a good win for us, especially at home.
With the contest locked at two and the Union struggling to find pressure in the second half, Farfan took what the United defense gave him and finished with authority for his second of the season. In the 57th minute, Farfan broke the ankles of defender Brandon McDonald and cruised uncovered to the top of the United box. With the backs failing to close the gap, Farfan was able to launch a hard, confident strike that beat goalie Bill Hamid clean for the 3-2 Union lead and eventual victory.
I saw a little bit of space in front of me so I just took it, said Farfan. They gave a big amount of space so I took it and took the shot.
Yet, despite the late-game heroics from Farfan, the match began with the Union in full control before the home side began flirting with disaster.
Sebastien Le Toux wasted little time continuing his scorching hot streak by taking an all-too-easy pass in the fourth minute from back Carlos Valdes. The lofty played ball trickled right down the middle of the box and split the sleeping United defense before landing at the feet of the streaking Frenchman, who took two steps and fired it low past Hamid for the early 1-0 Union lead.
I saw Sebastien making a run behind the defender so I tried to play it behind him, said Farfan. Le Toux had a really nice touch and played a really nice ball.
Not satisfied with just one, Le Toux doubled the Union lead in just the 15th minute after accepting a picture-perfect pass from Farfan that sailed over the head of the lone United defender and laid gently on Le Touxs right foot. With little effort needed, the striker earned his 10th goal of the season by ripping a shot to the left side and in.
It was Le Touxs ninth in eight games and team-leading 10th of the season.
With the convincing early lead, three points was within striking distance for the Union, hungry to improve their playoff position. However, the United werent going into the locker room without showing off a little heat of their own.
In the 22nd minute off a corner kick from Austin Da Luz to the left of goalkeeper Zac Macmath, Dwayne De Rosario, who has five goals in his last three games and 11 in total for the season with United, easily headed the ball past MacMath to cut the Unions lead in half, 2-1.
Feeling the confidence surge from their goal, the Uniteds Andy Najar took the contest into his own hands in the 30th minute. After fending off a potent flurry from Okugo, Veljko Paunovic and Roger Torres, Najar, with the Union attackers pinned, took a hand pass from Hamid and went into the Union end on a fast break. Moving coast-to-coast with the ball and with the Union defenders playing off of him and Farfan, who swapped with left back Gabriel Farfan, struggling to recover, Najar swerved through the zone before firing a shot from the top right of the box that beat MacMath clean to lock the game at two at half.
The team handled it really well, said MacMath about the sudden change in momentum. We came into the locker room and knew we were better than them, we knew we were playing better than them. We had a lot more than they did and we came out in the second half, stayed with it and got a great goal.
E-mail Ryan Bright at email@example.com.