A pair of nearly identical assists from Borek Dockal led the Philadelphia Union back from a goal deficit to a 3-1 win on Wednesday night in Houston that was aided by a controversial red card.
As Jim Curtin put it, the Union’s performance was far from perfect, but a result midweek on the road in Houston is still a result this team desperately needed to stay in the playoff picture. The team is now a point out of the fifth and sixth place teams with a game in hand.
Dockal was responsible for the first two goals and Fabian Herbers set up the third for Fafa Picault from the spot when he was taken down in the box late. It was the first Union appearance for Herbers, who has been scoring in bunches for Bethlehem Steel, since March.
Cory Burke was quiet through much of the match, but stepped up when he was needed most with a clinical finish that held up as the game-winner. The Jamaica international has now scored in all four of his MLS starts and has five on the season. Captain Alejandro Bedoya, who is perhaps in his best form since joining the Union, was again a force, flashing his ability to make effective late runs on a goal he scored with a lovely chip.
Getting a result looked like it might be wishful thinking in the opening 15 minutes as Houston was the far more dominate team. They capitalized on Mark McKenzie and Auston Trusty’s aggressive defending to take the lead in the 10th minute on a well-executed give-and-go that left McKenzie unable to chase down Mauro Manotas in time to do anything about his strike.
It wasn’t a good look for McKenzie, who has been burned on a number of occasions since winning the starting role, but Curtin has said before that mistakes like that are all part of having a pair of 19-year-olds anchoring the back line. To McKenzie’s credit, he came up with a big tackle 1v1 to shut down a counter attack just before the break.
Andre Blake, meanwhile, did the rest to keep the short-handed Dynamo from sneaking back into the game with his standard rescue mission on a couple of occasions. He finished with four saves on the night.
C.J. Sapong and Burke did get to share the field for a spell before Herbers replaced Burke right after his goal. Perhaps Sapong is better suited for that role of shutting down the other team more than he is to score goals right now. Either way, the Union getting a goal out of their striker and scoring three on the night while only conceding the one — even if aided by the VAR red card issue to Tomas Martinez for a challenge on Trusty — is a good sign.
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