This year's expansion team was humbled by last year's.
CHESTER, Pa. – On a clear but frigid afternoon on the Delaware River, the Philadelphia Union (2-0-0) earned their second 1-0 win of the season over the Vancouver Whitecaps (1-1-0), in front of 18,591 at PPL Park. The Union stay undefeated, handing the Whitecaps their first MLS loss.
The home crowd showed their affection for new captain keeper Faryd Mondragon by chanting “MON-DRA-GON” at kickoff.
The Whitecaps got the first scoring opportunity of the match with some aggressive play in the 3rd minute, getting Terry Dunfield free at the top of the box. The midfielder got a strong shot off, but Philly left back Jordan Harvey deflected it away.
The Union’s opening chance came in the 6th, with Kyle Nakazawa taking a free kick halfway between the circle and the Vancouver penalty area. Philadelphia got a head on the second-year player’s try, but Caps keeper Joe Cannon made the easy save.
In the 14th, Nakazawa took another free kick from almost the exact same spot, thanks to a borderline foul drawn by Carlos Ruiz. This time there was no scoring opportunity, as Nakazawa drove the ball straight into the Whitecaps’ wall. It was not a good few minutes for the midfielder, as he flubbed a nifty Sebastien Le Toux pass a short time later.
The Union’s Brian Carroll managed a lofting pass from midfield in the 19th minute that found Ruiz. The bruising Guatemalan muscled his way upfield and found Le Toux on his left. But Cannon made another routine but solid save, closing off the angle on the right side of his net.
Russell Teibert took a potentially dangerous free kick after Danny Califf fouled Atiba Harris, but the Whitecaps’ midfielder pushed the ball over the goal line without a teammate getting a touch on it.
Harris got a free run down the left in the 28th, but was effectively tackled by Philadelphia center back Carlos Valdes. Play was halted for several minutes as the player required the attention of trainers. The nearby River End supporters’ section booed lustily during the delay.
Harris got another fine opportunity in the 42nd minute, but his low blast was confidently gathered up by Mondragon.
Referee Yader Reyes kept busy in the half, with three yellows given to the Union and two to the Whitecaps.
The second half continued the card trend of the first, with Caps’ Alain Rochat drawing a yellow in the 48th for tripping a streaking Danny Mwanga. Valdes wasted the subsequent free kick, sailing it far over the Vancouver goal.
The game took a dramatic turn in the 57th minute, as Caps forward Eric Hassli was ejected. The Frenchman got his second yellow and a red for a rough challenge on Valdes, leaving his side to carry on a man down.
The Union nearly capitalized in the 66th minute. In a scrum following a Nakazawa corner, Ruiz sent an overhead kick on goal from close range. But Caps keeper Cannon managed to push the ball over the crossbar.
Philly manager Peter Nowak signaled his willingness to go for the win in the 67th minute, bringing on forward Jack McInerney in place of defender Jordan Harvey.
Still, the Union squandered another chance in the 75th, as Le Toux skied a free kick from just outside the box way over the Whitecaps’ goal.
Philadelphia finally broke through in the 77th. Le Toux crossed right to left in the front of the goal, and Ruiz finished from six yards out. Cannon didn’t stand a chance.
The Whitecaps put some pressure on in stoppage time, but the best they could manage was an off-target chance from Wes Knight.