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Union dominate Real Salt Lake 4-1 in best performance of the season

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Four goals gave the Union their first win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday night

Trey Madara

Following a convincing 2-0 victory last week, the Philadelphia Union set their sights on two in a row against Real Salt Lake, who are wavering in the mid-table in the West.

The only change for the Union following their victory over Montreal Impact was C.J. Sapong replacing Cory Burke up top following his red card from last week.

The defense was caught out of position early in the 10th minute, but a nice save from Blake kept it scoreless. Another wonderful save from Blake in the 17th minute kept Salt Lake off the scoreboard once again. The defense seemed sluggish at first as they conceded a few chances, but Blake had a great few saves in the first half, and held Salt Lake to zero. He was the unsung hero of the match.

The main story from the match though was the Union attack. A massive chance came for the Union in the 19th minute as Picault attempted to put away a rebound following a nice chance for Rosenberry. Great saves from Rimando, who did his best with a poor defense tonight, keep the boys in blue off the board.

The first goal for the Union came at the 21st minute from Marcus Epps, his first of the season, assisted by Fafa Picault.

Epps nearly had a second goal but Rimando tip the ball over the bar, even though he wasn’t credited with the save and the Union weren’t given the corner.

Another beautiful team play set up the second goal from Borek Dockal following a nice pass from Bedoya in the 34th minute. Dockal’s chip was precise and Rimando could do nothing to stop it. “Yes!” chants rang in from the River End, deservedly so as the Union took the 2-0 lead into the locker room.

Tommy Smyth, ESPN analyst, said this of the Union at the half, “The Union have really done well with the late runs, squirting them into the box.” I would agree, as their passing percentage was on point in the first half, 80.5%, which led to an overwhelming 11 shots with 6 on Target compared to just 5 shots from Salt Lake with 4 on target.

Not getting that elusive third goal would eventually add to some pressure moments after a goal from Damir Kreilach, assisted by half-time substitute Sebastian Saucedo, propelled Salt Lake back into the game. The defense lacked communication on the goal as Kreilach was wide open at the top of the box, leaving Blake not much to do. The defense played alright tonight, but a lack of communication and sliding played a major hindrance in their game, which showed in the first goal for Salt Lake that made it 2-1.

It seemed to be a quick response from the Union as Marcus Epps appeared to score, which would have been his second of the night. However, the goal was taken away following video review. Epps appeared to having come from an offside position according to the official, taking away a necessary goal for the Union as it could have iced the match.

The true third goal came in the 74th minute from substitute Ilsinho with the pressure too much for RSL’s back five as the Union were able to shove a needed third goal into the net. Pressure seemed to be a running theme throughout the evening for the Union.

A fantastic strike outside the box from Rosenberry ripped into the bottom left corner to make it 4-1 for the Union in the 81st minute. His first goal of the season — and first since August 2016 — was certainly one to be proud of.

RSL seemed to shut off at this point of the match, and the Union kept on the attack. Frustration got the best of Salt Lake, as Pablo Ruiz received the first yellow of the match, following some skillful play by Fafa Picault and a shove by Ruiz.

Not much else followed, as the game coasted on through the full 90 minutes. With 4 goals tonight, the Union moved to 12 on the season. With the one conceded, the goals allowed moved up to 15.

Their goal differential is now a much better -3, following quite possibly the best performance by the team this season. The pace, precision and pressure from the Union overwhelmed Salt Lake in the end, which was evident from the final scoreline of 4-1.

The hero of the match, in my opinion, has to be Fafa Picault as he was all over the pitch tonight. He truly led the attack, and his skills and passing were too much for Salt Lake to handle. Great performance all around from Fafa.

The Union head up to New York next Saturday to face the Red Bulls.