For the first time in franchise history, the Philadelphia Union have now won four games on the trot. Powered by a converted penalty from CJ Sapong and a wicked, curling free kick from Haris Medunjanin, both in the second half, the Union rallied to overcome an early deficit.
The Union’s lengthy clean-sheet streak ended at 378 minutes, as Colorado striker Caleb Calvert tallied his first MLS goal with a curling shot past Andre Blake in the 15th minute. Calvert dribbled into the Union’s final third without any interference, and hit a shot that totally fooled the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
Throughout the first half, the Union looked lethargic, it being their third match in eight days.
“I want to speak about the first 45 minutes,” Haris Medunjanin began post-game. “It was not us; it was very bad. We need to know that we cannot play arrogant, and think that we can beat [easily] every team. If we don’t stick with each other, if we don’t fight for every meter, we are nothing.”
The Union had their only legitimate goal-scoring opportunity of the first half in the 23rd minute, when Ilsinho was turned away from 15 yards out by a great Tim Howard save.
Two thirds of the way into the match, the Union looked destined to drop points for the first time in four games. That’s when things at Talen Energy Stadium got weird.
First, in the 67th minute, after a calamitous situation in the box, the Union were awarded a penalty kick as a Kortne Ford blocked, then handled the ball in the box. CJ Sapong calmly stepped up to smash the penalty kick into the roof of the net to level the score at one.
Just two minutes later, Caleb Calvert would make his second and third appearances in the scorebook, both being yellow cards, one for dissent and the other for entering the field without the referee’s permission.
Tempers flared as Calvert was ejected from the game, and a former Union man was also sent off. Long-time Union striker and hot head Conor Casey, now an assistant coach for Colorado, was sent off the field for giving referee Jose Carlos Rivero a piece of his mind.
Invigorated by the tying goal and now being up a man on the Rapids, the Union didn’t look back.
In the 75th minute, Haris Medunjanin ripped a filthy curler into the near post after Alejandro Bedoya was fouled near the box. The free kick hit the back of the net, sending the crowd in Chester into a frenzy.
"When I hit the ball, I knew it was gonna go in, you know," Medunjanin hilariously added after the game.
After a bruising physical 90 minutes, Rivero blew the whistle as the Union secured their fourth consecutive win. Amazingly, but perhaps not so surprisingly, that’s the longest win streak in Union history.
The Union, who had not won a game up until the beginning of May, now just sit one point out of the sixth and last playoff spot.
Coming off a win Wednesday against Houston, 2-0, Jim Curtin only made a few changes in his 11. Giliano Wijnaldum made his MLS debut at left back and Fabian Herbers replaced Chris Pontius in the starting eleven.
However, Herbers’ night would end early. The winger had to be subbed off the field in the 27th minute with a groin/hip flexor injury. Chris Pontius came off the bench a bit earlier than he probably figured he would, as he replaced Herbers.
Philadelphia will be back in action at Real Salt Lake next Saturday.