Brown, the Golden Boot winner of Jamaica's Red Stripe Premier League, officially became a member of the Union on Saturday, hours before the club squandered a two-goal lead en route to a 3-3 draw with the Colorado Rapids. Donning a No. 17 kit, Philadelphia's newest striker was one of the seven players included as a reserve, but he did not play. Instead, he took in his first game at PPL Park from a seat on the bench next to his fellow countryman, backup goalkeeper Andre Blake.
The circumstances of this particular match did not open up a chance for Brown, but he hopes to get several over the next 15 games. Opportunities could come for him off the bench in relief of Conor Casey. Brown, listed at 6-1 and 185 pounds, scored 20 goals in 32 appearances this past season for Harbour View, his second year with the club. Before that, he played for Montego Bay United of the same league. A 2013 appearance with the Jamaican national team is also on his resume.
"He's a natural left-footer, a great striker of the ball, good at holding the ball," said Brown's agent, former MLS All-Star Damani Ralph, an ex-Chicago Fire teammate of Union interim manager Jim Curtin. "He's a very powerful player. He's not a speedster like a Deshorn [Brown, the Rapids' standout Ralph also represents], but he's good at playing with his back to the goal, good at connecting with guys and he's a good finisher."
Bringing Brown in on loan is a low-risk, potentially high-reward move for the Union. If he can prove his worth on a bigger stage, Philadelphia could try to strike a deal with Harbour View to keep him in town. Much will depend on Brown's adjustment to MLS, against more tactically sound players.
In training thus far, Brown has caught the eye of those tasked with defending him.
"I've been impressed," center back Ethan White said. "He's a left-footed, dangerous finisher. He's athletic. He's another guy that's hard to deal with the entire time. I think a lot of teams will be surprised when he steps on the field."
"He's a guy we're high on," Curtin said. "If the game goes how I like [Saturday] and we stay 3-1 up, he probably would've been in at the end. Instead, you're burning two subs trying to hold on at the end. [It's] difficult."
Saturday's result was yet another example of two points squandered for the Union (4-8-7), which led by two goals against the Western Conference's third-place team before the tide turned with Michael Lahoud's 76th-minute red card. The point moved Philadelphia from eighth to seventh place in the Eastern Conference, but the club is now four points from fifth place because of New York's 4-1 victory against Columbus on Saturday.
The Red Bulls (5-5-8) visit PPL Park on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in a match that took on added importance in the wake of Saturday's results.
"Nights like [Saturday] are the games you look back on at the end of the year and say, 'Oh, if we could have done this,' " Curtin said. "But I'm a big believer in your record says who you are, and unfortunately, this is who we are, a 3-3 scramble, all-over-the-place game against Colorado. [We're] not really sure how to win and it's going to be a process. You have to learn how to win."
Michael Lahoud and fellow Union midfielder Amobi Okugo will miss Wednesday's home match against New York after receiving red cards Saturday. Oddly enough, Okugo's card came after the game's final whistle for what was deemed dissent. Okugo said he was not given an explanation and the referee presented the card while the player's back was turned. "Kind of cowardly, but whatever," Okugo said . . . Ethan White, acquired in January, made his first appearance with Philadelphia on Saturday, starting and playing a full 90 in place of the suspended Maurice Edu. "Ethan was excellent," Curtin said, "as excellent as you can be as a center back when we give up three goals" . . . Cristian Maidana's eighth assist of the season on Saturday briefly tied him for the MLS lead but New York's Thierry Henry tallied three in the Red Bulls' win to propel himself to the top of the category.