Young Union lineup good for win over first-place Columbus
GIVEN THE LINEUPS Peter Nowak has fielded in the past, it's evident he is an agent of change. But never take the Union boss for a gambler.
GIVEN THE LINEUPS Peter Nowak has fielded in the past, it's evident he is an agent of change.
But never take the Union boss for a gambler.
Against first-place Columbus and out for its first win in 2 months, Saturday night's Union lineup consisted of its 16-year-old homegrown midfielder Zach Pfeffer, who earned his first MLS start, Morgan Langley, called up late last week from USL Pro affiliate Harrisburg as a late substitute, with no true defender in reserve, relying heavily on the customary back four of Gabriel Farfan, Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes and Danny Califf, who assumed the captaincy in place of injured goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon.
An emphatic, 1-0 win in front of a sellout crowd of 18,904, the third largest gathering in the club's 2-year history at PPL Park. Even more astounding is that this young corps actually replicated the early season play that had the Union first in MLS' East for a third of the season.
Additionally, it was the first time the Union opened the scoring and took a lead into halftime since a 1-1 draw against Houston on Aug. 6.
The goal, which presumably snapped the Union out of its rut, arrived in the 32nd minute when Roger Torres sent a ball over the top of the Crew defense that landed in the stride of Sebastien Le Toux. Once the missing scoring link, Le Toux has quietly regained the club's top spot in both goals (seven) and assists (eight).
"I think it was an opportunistic lineup but they proved that they can still learn and still develop," said Nowak.
The Union hopes it has finally escaped from that non-winning funk with back-to-back nationally televised matches against Sporting Kansas City on Friday (8:30 p.m., FSC) and at home against D.C. United on Sept. 29 (8p.m., ESPN2).
The mystery that is midfielder Keon Daniel's current visa situation is still an off-limits topic in the Union locker room. Saturday, a supporter in Section 136 of the River End displayed a "Free Keon" banner. On Wednesday, manager Peter Nowak suggested those with questions consult MLS' league offices in New York City. Saturday, goalkeeper Thorne Holder, a fellow Trinidadian with Daniel, was cordial until asked the status of his friend and countryman. Holder wanted no part of the question, stating only he "knows nothing" before scurrying off.
Which is a little hard to believe.
Ironic, don't you think?
Morgan Langley, who entered in the 80th minute against Columbus in place of Roger Torres, was beaming postgame as he spoke to reporters. A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Langley was an All-America at nearby Swarthmore College. As he spoke about "getting to experience his lifelong dream," Gabriel Farfan, overhearing the dialogue, finished Langley's sentence: "Two weeks ago, this kid was hitting me up for tickets; he calls me up and he's all like 'Yo man, think I can get two?' "
Additionally, Langley is the second victim of a misspelled jersey in his debut. On the back of his No. 26 appeared "Langely." Last year it was Pfeffer who made his debut with "Peffer" on his kit. "I couldn't believe it [when I was told, by a teammate after the match], that's hilarious," said Langley. "It's certainly a story to add to this already amazing one for me, that's for sure."