The high-scoring exploits of Roland Alberg were enough to offset a trio of goals from the Chicago Fire as the Philadelphia Union claimed victory on Wednesday night. The Dutch midfielder scored three times to bring his tally up to six in the past seven days.
Though the Union were in control for most of the game, Chicago did manage to bookend the match with goals.
After only two minutes, the Fire were on top thanks to a blistering run from David Accam. The Chicago forward won a 50-50 challenge against an outrushing Ken Tribbett, then proceeded to blow by a covering Brian Carroll before poking home the opener. It wasn't the last time Accam abused Tribbett, who later earned a yellow card before being subbed off at halftime.
For the next 70 minutes, it was all Union, or, more specifically, All-berg (not sorry).
The former ADO Den Haag man forced an own goal in the 11th minute to even up the score. Thanks to a clever dummy from Chris Pontius, Alberg had the time and space to cut, then rip one on goal. His attempt was parried onto the post by Sean Johnson, but the ball found the net quickly thereafter via Jonathan Campbell. The ball bounced off the rookie defender's knee and crossed the goal line before he could even react.
Alberg didn't get credit for the Union's first goal, so he made sure not to leave any doubt on the second. After a long attempt from Tranquillo Barnetta cannoned off the post and back through the box, the ball serendipitously landed in Alberg's path. A mistouch from Fabian Herbers teed up the attacking midfielder, who thumped it into the top corner.
A similarly messy play set up the Dutchman once more as the game neared halftime. Herbers was involved again, as his shot came off Johnson's leg and rolled through the box. Alberg popped up, had a shot blocked by Johan Kappelhof, then finished on his second attempt, low and hard to the near post.
You may be surprised to hear that the Union's fourth and final goal came off the foot of Alberg, who completed his hat trick from the penalty spot in the 56th minute. He also played the entry pass to Pontius, who earned the spot kick after being brought down in the box. Just as he did on Saturday, Alberg stepped up and coolly sent the 'keeper the other way.
Alberg's trifecta was the first since Sebastien Le Toux hit up DC United for three back in 2010. Since Le Toux's hat trick came during the Lincoln Financial Field days, Alberg does earn the distinction of being the first Union player to score three at PPL Pa--err, Talen Energy Stadium. Alberg added after the game that the hat trick was his first as well.
Chicago managed to make the game's final stretch interesting, as they narrowed the lead to one with 10 minutes remaining. Razvan Cocis's nice sliding finish cut the lead to 4-2 in the 69th minute, and Khaly Thiam brought Chicago within one when he scored off a corner in the 80th.
Jim Curtin subbed on Le Toux and Warren Creavalle in an effort to kill off the game, and the Union did manage to hold on for all three points. The win puts the Union four points clear of the New York Red Bulls, ensuring that they will enter the weekend on top of the Eastern Conference. The Union's next game is on Saturday, when they will host the Vancouver Whitecaps.