CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union’s offense woke up just in time to deal a big blow to the Houston Dynamo’s playoff aspirations.
Paced by a Freddy Adu brace and the first career goal from Josué Martinez, the Union broke out of a long offensive drought to top Houston, 3-1, on Sunday at PPL Park.
With the result, the Dynamo drop to 12-8-10 and remain in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, just one point clear of Columbus Crew for the final playoff spot.
The Union, who were knocked out of the playoffs by Houston last year, improve to 8-14-6 and avoid being mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, which would have happened with a loss or a draw.
Before Sunday’s game, the Union had scored just twice in their past five games and last netted three goals in a game on July 9. But in the 28th minute, Adu put the Union ahead, 1-0, and became the first Philly attacker to score since July 29.
Adu’s goal came after right back Ray Gaddis made a marauding run up the field and put a cross into the box that took a couple of bounces off Houston players and found the foot of Adu on the endline. Adu then cut the ball to the right and beat Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall to the near post.
Gaddis made another great run before playing a dangerous cross in the 38th minute, and generally showed great pace along the wing throughout the game.
Both teams had other chances to score, none greater than in the 11th minute when Hall made a monster save on a wide-open Josue Martinez, who made a rare start as Philly’s center forward.
It was Houston who’d break through, though, tying it up late in the first half when Boniek García hit a beautiful strike off the post and in, following a great feed from Will Bruin, who sucked both defenders to him in the middle of the box.
But Adu netted his second goal of game – and fifth of the season – when he banged home a 50th-minute penalty kick after André Hainault dragged down Philly’s Sheanon Williams in the box, restoring the one-goal Union lead. He then left the game while clutching his left leg, replaced by Keon Daniel.
Martinez finally made good on his opportunity to start in the 71th minute when he put the Union up 3-1, getting his foot on a blast from center back Amobi Okugo and taking another touch to beat Hall right in front of the net.
Trailing by a pair of goals, Houston tried to mount a comeback with Bruin hitting a powerful shot just wide in the 74th minute and Brad Davis striking the crossbar in the 88th minute. Houston never quite found the range, however, as the Union snapped a franchise-long eight-game winless streak.
Philadelphia Union (8-14-6) vs. Houston Dynamo (12-8-10)
September 23, 2012 PPL Park
PHI: Freddy Adu 4 (unassisted) 28
HOU: Boniek Garcia 2 (Will Bruin 4, Kofi Sarkodie 1) 44
PHI: Freddy Adu 5 (penalty) 50
PHI: Josue Martinez 1 (Amobi Okugo 1) 70
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor, Andre Hainault (Cam Weaver 81); Luiz Camargo (Giles Barnes 63), Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis; Macoumba Kandji (Calen Carr 45), Will Bruin
Substitutes not used: Tyler Deric, Brian Ching, Adam Moffat, Warren Creavalle
Philadelphia Union: Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo, Raymon Gaddis; Michael Farfan, Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud; Danny Cruz (Chris Albright 81), Josue Martinez, Freddy Adu (Keon Daniel 57) (Antoine Hoppenot 66)
Substitues not used: Chris Konopka, Jack McInerney, Roger Torres, Chandler Hoffman
PHI: Sheanon Williams (caution) 20
HOU: Brad Davis (caution) 42
HOU: Tally Hall (caution) 71
HOU: Calen Carr (caution) 75
PHI: Michael Farfan (caution) 82
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Referee's Assistants: James Conlee, Mark Cahen
4th Official: Ted Unkel