The margin for error hasn't been great, but the record in close games has been good for the Union. Despite playing a man down for more than a half, the Union defeated the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, on Saturday before 18,279 at PPL Park.
The Union are now 4-1-1 and all four wins are by 1-0 scores, giving the team twice as many shutouts as it recorded all last season.
In addition, this one was achieved in adverse conditions - after defender Jordan Harvey received a questionable red card in the 41st minute.
So while it wasn't a textbook win, the Union continue to pull out games that may not be aesthetically pleasing but keep providing three points.
Sebastien Le Toux's penalty kick, his first goal of the season, was the only scoring of the game. Midfielder Amobi Okugo set the goal up by dribbling down the touch line and delivering a cross on which San Jose defender Jason Hernandez was called for a hand ball inside the box.
"It was a nice little combo between Sebastien and Carlos [Ruiz], and Carlos laid if off for me," Okugo said. "I took a touch, thought I was going to shoot it, saw space down the line, crossed it, and Hernandez, as he slid, got a hand on it and the ref made a good call for the penalty kick."
San Jose coach Frank Yallop said it was obviously disappointing to lose the game on a call like that.
"I haven't seen it on tape yet, but apparently [Hernandez] was sliding to block the ball and it hit [his] hand," said Yallop, whose team is 1-4-2. "It's tough; he didn't mean to do it."
Le Toux, who scored 14 goals last year, then deposited his first goal on the penalty kick in the 77th minute. San Jose keeper Jon Busch dove to his left and Le Toux kicked the ball in the opposite direction.
"I do my own technique, and I was concentrating to see where he was going and I tried to go the other way and am glad it went in," Le Toux said.
Harvey earned the red card for a tackle on Chris Leitch. It's not certain that even a yellow was warranted on the play, one in which Leitch kicked at Harvey, but missed, after the foul.
Team manager Peter Nowak indicated that the Union planned to appeal the red card.
"I think everybody saw the replay," Nowak said, diplomatically.
What was most impressive was how the Union took it to San Jose during the second half while playing a man down. The Earthquakes didn't have any outstanding scoring chances either at even strength or when they were a man up.
"I don't think we were very dynamic going forward, and that was the difference in the match," Yallop said.
It was a difficult homecoming for San Jose midfielder Bobby Convey, a Penn Charter product. Convey had started the first six games for San Jose, but he didn't enter this contest until the 58th minute.
"Going a man up, we should have created more chances and we didn't," Convey said.
When Harvey left, the Union played three in the back, and Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, and Sheanon Williams did a good job. In addition, at halftime the Union substituted Michael Farfan and Stefani Miglioranzi for Danny Mwanga and Roger Torres. This gave the Union a much better defensive presence in the midfield, and once again they had just enough offense to eke out another win.
Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter/com/sjnard