CHESTER, Pa.Welcome back, Freddy Adu.
After missing three games for rest and with the under-23 US National Team, the midfielder powered the Union to their first win of the season, a 1-0 decision over the Columbus Crew on Saturday at PPL Park.
One of the few players to take control of offensive chances throughout the contest, Adu earned a penalty shot in the 37th minute, when he played a hard line drive ball into the box from the left side. Unable to react, the ball collided with the hands of Crew defender Eric Gehrig, drawing the opportunity.
After a short conversation about who would take the shot, Gabriel Gomez lined up on the line. He faked left and lofted a soft chip shot past Andy Gruenebaum for the 1-0 Union lead. Goalkeeper Zac MacMath and the Union defense handled the rest, smothering the Crew for the team's second shutout in as many games. It was the Unions second home goal in three games.
Coming off three weeks of rest, Adu, who also played in the Unions season opener against the Portland Timbers, was replaced in the 61st minute by Josue Martinez.
Following a week off, the Union (1-3-1) put together an unrefined but complete effort against the 2-3-0 Crew to climb out of the Eastern Conference basement. They did so without captain Danny Califf, who injured his hamstring in warmups. With speedy rookie Raymon Gaddis manning the back line and Adu pacing an improved offense, the Union earned their first win in five tries.
While the Unions offense began to click, the defense, led by MacMath, met the counter challenge. In the 51st minute, Olman Vargas ripped a hard shot that was saved away by MacMath to maintain the Unions lead. Making the difficult save even tougher for the young keeper was that it was the first shot on net by the Crew to that point. It would be the Crew's best scoring opportunity.
In the 57th minute, Keon Daniel nearly doubled his teams advantage with a header off an Adu pass in the middle box that cleared just high over the crossbar. That, matched with a Michael Farfan individual effort that nearly found goal at the beginning of the half, had the Union looking like a different team than the one that bumbled its way through the opening 45 minutes and the past two games.
E-mail Ryan Bright at RyanBright13@gmail.com