Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Power and finesse help Union nip Chivas de Guadalajara

FOR ANYONE who has ever played soccer, you know the term "power vs. finesse" is a requisite when it comes to coach speak.

Nick Zimmerman played the first half in the Union's 1-0 win over Chivas. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Nick Zimmerman played the first half in the Union's 1-0 win over Chivas. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

FOR ANYONE who has ever played soccer, you know the term "power vs. finesse" is a requisite when it comes to coach speak.

Last night, the Union used both in a 1-0 victory over Chivas de Guadalajara at PPL Park.

Second-half substitution Jack McInerney finessed a through-ball from Justin Mapp past Chivas goalkeeper Sergio Arias in the 48th minute to give the Union the win in the final international friendly. It was the 18-year-old's third goal of the year and his second in as many games after scoring the equalizer in the Union's 2-1, come-from-behind victory over New England last Saturday.

McInerney's goal, coupled with a powerful Union defense, was enough to keep reserve goalkeeper Brad Knighton's shutout in tact.

Chivas and its band of speedy, quick-footed forwards and midfielders were met by a Union defense that used brawn to fend off chance after chance. Knighton, eager to get out of manager Peter Nowak's doghouse since a blunder in the 22nd minute against FC Dallas on Aug. 11, proved his worth last night, stopping a barrage of long-range shots and ensuring his hands were the dominant force inside the 18-yard-box.

"Peter told me after that [Dallas] game to keep my head up, but I am a very competitive person and it was tough for me to get over that," said Knighton. "But it's one of those things that you have to get over, and for me to come out here and play well tonight really helped my confidence going forward. I hope the coaches noticed, too."

McInerney's recent success is yet another testament to Nowak's youth-over-experience mantra.

The Union (8-12-6 in all competitions) introduced 15-year-old Zach Pfeffer to the lineup last night. Pfeffer, a substitute for defender Michael Orozco Fiscal in the 82nd minute, proved to be another crafty addition to the Union's midfielder corps.

Up from the team's youth reserve system, a member of the U-17 U.S. national team and a midfielder for local youth power FC Delco, Pfeffer, was unavailable for comment due to his trainee status.

"He has played well for us in a [recent tournament] and so we decided to give him a try with the first team," said Union assistant John Hackworth. "Probably won't see him in any league games this season, but he is a kid we are keeping on our radar for the future, definitely."

Last night's game was similar to the 1-0 win over Celtic FC and the 1-0 loss to Manchester United, both played in July against two of the world's best teams. Against Chivas, the class of the Mexican First Division with its record 11 league titles and high-profile roster, the Union looked the aggressor.

"We came out and really tried to keep our shape in the back and our midfielders did a good job of coming back and giving support," said Orozco Fiscal. "It was a team effort tonight and it helped to build confidence. It's huge going into this game [Saturday] against Kansas City, we showed that we can again keep pace with one of the best teams in the world."

Saturday's game, which marks the return to MLS play, is an Eastern Conference clash at PPL Park (3:30 p.m. 6.2 ABC, LiveWell Network). The Union needs to win to have a chance to squeak into the postseason. For now, a win against the best team south of the border will have to suffice.

Odds and endlines

Sebastien Le Toux was given the night off to rest a knee contusion. He had been listed as questionable before last night's match. Union trainer Paul Rushing said Le Toux is "showing tremendous improvement," and should be ready to play Saturday. Though the attendance was not announced, Chivas brought a large following that stayed long after game's end to cheer their beloved "Goats" as the Mexican giant is affectionately known . . . Chivas star forward Omar Bravo was on loan with his former team after recently signing a designated-player contract with Kansas City. Bravo will finish the year with Chivas and start play in MLS next season with the Wizards.