THREE OBSERVATIONS FROM UNION'S WIN
What does that mean for the season? Here are three observations from Saturday's victory:
1. This defense can carry the Union. How often have the Union had to rely on Sheanon Williams, pictured, to play centerback? Umm...never. So when pressed into the spot by a pregame warmup injury to Danny Califf (hamstring tweak), Williams handled it admirably. That also meant Raymon Gaddis, a SuperDraft selection, got his first start and playing time. All told, the Union backline -- with goalkeeper Zac MacMath -- kept the Crew off the scoresheet and extended their opponents' scoreless streak to 252 minutes.
2. Why so conservative? The Union scored a first-half goal off a penalty kick, then turned around their game and went all defensive. They hadn't been generating enough offensive runs and scoring opportunities to make it worthwhile to sub out Freddy Adu in the 62nd minute, but that's what happened. For a team that hadn't found the back of the net in the better part of three matches, the Union needed to keep their foot on the pedal and, instead, they pulled back and tried to preserve the one-goal cushion.
3. A must-win that the Union won. How often are we five matches into the season, and the Union are faced with a must-win scenario? Saturday presented one, with middle-of-the-road Columbus in town. Peter Nowak's club had to have this one, with a West Coast roady to Chivas USA next up, followed by a home date with San Jose and another trip West to visit Seattle. Two of those teams are near the top of the Western Conference table and, while the other isn't, it's always daunting to cover 3,000 miles and pull off a victory. The Union needed three points against the Crew, and they got them.
**Rookie Antoine Hoppenot, a supplemental-draft pick, made his debut when he checked in for Lionard Pajoy in the 90th minute.
**When Gabriel Gomez converted a penalty kick in the 37th minute, he became the second player in franchise history to score a PK goal. The only other: Sebastien Le Toux.
**Adu got 63 minutes in his first playing time since returning last month from the United States U-23s, who failed to qualify for the Summer Olympics.
(Photo: Associated Press)