For the first time since that meaningless shellacking of Orlando City on the last day of the season last October, fans at Talen Energy Stadium allowed themselves to have fun at a soccer game again last night.
The Union not only scored a season-high four goals, they won back-to-back games for the first time since last summer, beat Real Salt Lake for the first time ever, and learned their $1.7-million dollar loanee may not be such a bust after all.
That’s the good news.
The news you won’t read coming from Stadium Drive is that the Union scored four goals at home against a team that is winless on the road for a reason. A team nearly as easy to score on this season as the team they beat last week north of the border.
Yes, more than Bořek Dočkal getting on “the same page” with the rest of the team, it turns out the Union needed to face two of the worst defenses in the league to finally convert some of those so-called expected goals into actual numbers on the scoreboard.
The goals were pretty — three of them at least — but to suggest that the “snarky Twitter heroes” were wrong about Dočkal, as head coach Jim Curtin suggested in his post-game press conference Saturday night, might be a tad premature.
Dočkal had easily his best game in a Union jersey and the team its best performance of the season across the board, but how much of this was the Union finally clicking as a unit and how much was the benefit of a weak opponent?
Curtin was taking credit (as he should) and making the case Saturday night that the metrics have pointed to what we saw tonight all along.
“Whether you’re an analytical guy or not an analytical guy, we happen to be analytical at our club,” he said. “Whether you believe in expected goals, goals against, possession, dominating entry balls, creating chances, we are at the top throughout the league in all those categories. So the question is, well, what if we’re a good team?”
It would be great if the team that lost to Colorado 3-0 on the road, tied San Jose 1-1 at home and couldn’t even score a goal against a depleted Toronto FC defense turned out to be reverse catfishing us all along.
Union fans want and deserve nothing less than to finally have a good team in Chester.
But scoring the same number of goals against the two most scored-upon defenses in the league as they scored in the first nine games of the season — two of those shutouts to the stingiest defense in the league against the Columbus Crew — simply isn’t convincing enough.
Drop a couple on New York Red Bulls next weekend, heck, score a single goal and get out of North Jersey at the very least only dropping two points and we’ll talk. Avoid being embarrassed at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and I may have to invite my neighboqr who mows her lawn three times a day to a game.
Until then, enjoy the fun of re-watching that ridiculous Dočkal chip, Fafa putting on the after burners and finding Marcus Epps in front of goal, of Keegan Rosenberry’s rocket from distance and Ilsinho playing mini-golf with a soccer ball.
It might be a while before it happens again.
The Union’s next two opponents (Red Bulls and mighty Atlanta United) have conceded a combined average of a little more than a goal per game fewer (1.2) than Montreal and Salt Lake (2.32).
Oh yeah, and they’ve scored a ton of goals too. More than the last five teams the Union have played, combined.