Union players and John Hackworth spoke to the media on Tuesday.While preparing for Thursday’s match at Toronto FC, the Philadelphia Union received some unexpected vindication.
Paul Tamberino, US Soccer’s Director of Referee Development, announced that DC United’s Jaime Moreno’s controversial goal in the 68th minute of Saturday’s game should not have counted.
The bizarre score was one of the few sour moments of the night for the Union, who won their first-ever game in their home opener in front of more than 34,000 fans at Lincoln Financial Field.
Moreno lingered in front of Union keeper Chris Seitz before a goal kick and pounced when Seitz dropped the ball. If the Union had not rallied for a 3-2 victory, Seitz may have been remembered as the goat of the game.
“Goalkeepers always have to have a short memory,” Seitz pointed out in meeting with the media on Tuesday. “It’s one of those things that you chalk up as a learning experience and move on.”
The keeper admitted that at the time, he wasn’t sure if the goal should have counted or not.
“I’ve never been in that situation before so I didn’t know what the ruling was. It kind of threw me a little bit when he [Moreno] made the play. I didn’t know, to be honest, if it was legal or not. I went back in the locker room and asked around a bit and it sounded like it wasn’t a fair call.”
In the Union’s first game—an 0-2 beating at the hands of the Sounders in Seattle on March 26th—the Philly’s defenders were out of step and chalking up card after card. In the two weeks between that game and the home opener last weekend, the Union coaching staff revamped the back line, cutting David Myrie and adding Cristian Arrieta, the 2009 USL MVP as a member of the Puerto Rico Islanders.
“He gave that outlet pass to get the second goal right before halftime,” noted Seitz. “He’s strong in the air and he’s always in good spots. I feel comfortable with him back there and I think everyone else does as well.”
Team captain and fellow defender Danny Califf agreed. “He brought a level of experience, work rate, and calmness that maybe we lacked before. I thought he did a great job.”
With the matchup at Toronto just days away, the Union don’t have much time to celebrate Saturday’s triumph. After a two-week break between the Seattle and DC games, Philly only have five days between the DC and Toronto games.
TFC have dropped both its matches this season, but Union assistant coach John Hackworth is not taking Toronto lightly.
“D-Ro [Dwayne De Rosario] and [Julian de] Guzman are the two we’ve looked at and said we need to make sure we keep in check. They come off a poor result, but we know that Preki is an excellent coach. He will have his team turned around and prepared. It’s their home opener, with grass for the first time at their stadium. All of the emotion and energy that we had on Saturday, Toronto’s going to have on Thursday.”
For Cristian Arrieta, the trip to Toronto will bring back lots of memories. His Puerto Rico Islanders won there last July in CONCACAF Champions League action.
“If the result is the same with Philadelphia, I’ll be happy with it,” he said.
He’ll also be reunited with Dan Gargan, his teammate with Puerto Rico last year and a current member of Toronto FC. But don’t expect hugs on the pitch.
“I’ll be very happy to see him but...we’re friends before and after the game but during the game there’s no friendship. It’s a war and I hope to win.”
One question on a lot of Union fans’ minds is where Peter Nowak will be on Thursday. He spent Saturday’s game out of sight in a coach’s box, in honor of the victims of the April 10th plane crash that killed Poland’s President and numerous senior Polish political, military, and religious figures.
While Nowak will travel with the team to Toronto, no decision has yet been made as to whether Nowak will coach the team from the field.
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