Don’t look now, but the Philadelphia Union have won three straight games and haven’t allowed a goal in their last four. On Wednesday night, the Houston Dynamo became their latest victims, falling 2-0. Fafa Picault and Ilsinho got the goals for the Union, both striking in the first half.
In the 17th minute, Philadelphia scored their best team goal of the season after Ilsinho found Chris Pontius on the wing. Pontius hit a beautiful cross across the goal, where Fafa Picault leapt to send a header off the bar and into the back of the net.
Ilsinho, who made his second consecutive start in the number ten role, looked like a completely different player than he was on the wing. His ability to operate centrally and pick players out from atop the box has given the surging Union another weapon.
“He’s doing a good job at the number ten spot,” Curtin said as he heaped praise upon Ilsinho in his post-game press conference. "He's playing confident right now, and I think it needs to be said he's putting in a lot of work defensively too."
In the 37th minute, Ilsinho added a goal of his own to his hockey assist. In another great team goal, Pontius again found the open man, Ilsinho, in the box. Ilsinho had little left to do besides slot the ball into the corner to double the Union lead.
From there on, the Union easily cruised to their second win in four days. Jim Curtin made solid subs such as Warren Creavalle and Keegan Rosenberry to solidify the defense and kill off the match. Creavalle especially clogged many of the Houston passing lanes, smothering Houston’s attack. Rosenberry’s substitution was a tactical one as well, as Ray Gaddis was one late challenge away from earning his second yellow card.
The Union back line shut down a potent (21 goals in 11 games) Houston offense featuring Cubo Torres, Romell Quioto and Mauro Manotas. Credit to not only the backline, but also to the double pivot of Haris Medunjanin and Alejandro Bedoya for preserving the clean sheet. Bedoya and Medunjanin put in excellent shifts on both sides of the field, which has contributed to the stellar defensive streak. In his more natural number eight position, Bedoya again tonight looked like the Designated Player the Union desired when he was signed last season.
“That’s not an easy group to shutout and contain,” Curtin added post-game. “Our guys did a very good job on Alex...forcing him to play square and backwards.”
Union Head Coach Jim Curtin decided that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as the Union rolled out the same lineup that humiliated D.C. United, 4-0, last Saturday.
Philadelphia will look to continue their hot streak this Saturday when current the Western Conference basement-dwellers Colorado Rapids come to town.