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Sapong, Ilsinho, VAR lead Union to big win

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An impressive team performance helped the Union stay afloat in the playoff race.

MLS: FC Dallas at Philadelphia Union Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Union took down FC Dallas on Saturday night, securing a win that they hope will jumpstart a run into the playoffs. CJ Sapong and Ilsinho lead the attack with two goals and two assists, respectively, while the defensive unit kept their sheet clean until second-half stoppage time, with a little help from VAR.

The Union opened the scoring in the 17th minute with their best goal of the season by far. Ilsinho started the attack by ridiculously dribbling past three Dallas players into the final third. He finished the play with an absurd back-heel to spring Haris Medunjanin into the box, where the Bosnian found CJ Sapong for the easy finish.

Five minutes later, Ilsinho notched a goal of his own with a beautiful half-volley from the top of the 18-yard-box to put the Union up two goals through 25 minutes.

Dallas began to wake up offensively towards the end of the half with an onslaught of close-range shots from Dallas’s front three. Union goalkeeper John McCarthy, who got the start over the injured Andre Blake, played an inspired first half, positioning himself well for each of Dallas’s six first half shots and keeping the clean sheet intact.

"Overall, the first 45 minutes, I feel [that] was the best 45 minutes we played this year." Head Coach Jim Curtin said about his team’s quick start tonight.

Ilsinho’s stellar night continued into the second half. In the 68th minute, the midfielder played an easy pass to Sapong on the six-yard-box to put the Union three goals clear. Sapong had initially played in Ilsinho, whose shot into Chris Seitz spilled back out. Coming into tonight’s match, the Brazilian winger had only one assist on the season. He left the match with three assists.

FC Dallas looked to have pulled one back in the 78th minute, but VAR wouldn’t let that happen. On its MLS debut, the controversial video review process lead referee Ricardo Salazar to overturn Maxi Urruti’s goal. After a 15-second video review, Salazar determined that FCD’s Cristian Colman had committed a foul on McCarthy prior to Urruti’s finish.

Dallas’s Michael Barrios actually did pull a goal back in second-half stoppage time, but it was way too little too late. The Union killed off the rest of stoppage time to collect all three points with a resounding 3-1 victory.

Despite allowing one goal, credit must be given to McCarthy for putting the clamps on the explosive Dallas attack. In addition to the win, the third-year pro obliterated his former personal MLS record for saves, six, with nine on the night.

With the win, Philadelphia are now just three points behind sixth-place Columbus Crew, with 11 games left to play. The Union will be back in action next Saturday at home against the Montreal Impact.