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Ruiz’s Goal Lifts Union Over Whitecaps In Home Opener

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CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — Victories were scarce for the Philadelphia Union in their expansion season. This season, shutouts are the norm.

Carlos Ruiz scored in the 77th minute and Faryd Mondragon was strong in goal to lift the Union past the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1-0 on Saturday.

Sebastien Le Toux picked up the assist on Ruiz’s goal after sending a clean pass across the middle to a wide-open Ruiz, who was signed by Philadelphia in the offseason.

It was the second consecutive victory for the Union, who went 8-15-7 in last year’s inaugural season.

It was also the second straight 1-0 shutout for veteran Colombian goalkeeper and Philadelphia captain Mondragon.

“I’m very happy for my teammates and for the fans,” Mondragon said. “The guys on this team have put a lot of faith and trust in me and I’m so thankful for it. Winning two in a row with shutouts is obviously a great feeling.”

The Union managed just two shutouts as an expansion club, tying a MLS record for fewest in a season.

“I am happy to be a part of this club and a part of these shutouts,” Ruiz said. “We are happy, but we have a lot of work still to do.”

The Whitecaps fell to 1-1-0 one week after posting a 4-2 victory over Toronto FC in the expansion franchise’s debut. In that match, forward Eric Hassli scored two goals.

But Hassli was far less effective against Philadelphia with two yellow cards. Hassli was ejected in the 57th minute after committing a foul against Union defender Carlos Valdes.

Vancouver was forced to play the rest of the match with just 10 players.

After Hassli left the match, the Whitecaps struggled to generate much offense. They didn’t register a shot on goal in the final 10 minutes.

“I’m not in a situation to say whether he (Hassli) should have had them,” Whitecaps manager Teitur Thordarson said. “There were things that led to them (yellow cards), which should have been punished as well.”

Overall, Thordarson was pleased with the result, even though it wound up being the club’s first loss.

“I thought we did well,” he said. “The players fought hard for all 90 minutes.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)