They blew a two-goal lead, but in the end there was no post-U.S. Open Cup letdown in Foxborough on Saturday night as the Philadelphia Union picked up three critical road points with a 3-2 win over the New England Revolution.
The Union built a two-goal lead through second-year defender Jack Elliott, who became the first defender in club history with a multi-goal game. Replacing the injured Mark McKenzie in the lineup for the third straight game, Elliott was a surprise contributor on the offensive end when he scored just his second career goal in the 14th minute.
The 6-foot-5 Englishman didn’t even look the part of a center back on his goals, scoring with a clever back heel on the first off a pass from Haris Medunjanin and tapping in a poacher’s goal off a deflection 10 minutes later to make it 2-0.
“I’m delighted to score two goals and to help us win mainly,” Elliott said after the match. “Obviously, if we didn’t win it wouldn’t have meant anything.”
Saturday night proved to be a productive one for defenders on both teams as Andrew Farrell notched just his second career goal in 182 career games with a long range shot that took a deflection and beat Andre Blake just after halftime.
The goal turned the game on its side, putting the Union’s backs to the wall. New England made the most of that pressure when they found an equalizer in the 64th minute off a set piece delivery Diego Fagundez, who found Wilfried Zahibo for a free header to level the score at 2 in the 64th minute.
The Union regained the lead for good when Antonio Dalamea handled a corner kick trying to mark Fabian Herbers and Fafa Picault converted the game-winning goal from the spot in the 76th minute. Picault set up the corner kick with a strong run and shot that was knocked out by Matt Turner.
Chances were plentiful for both teams on the night. Cory Burke hit woodwork off a great pass from CJ Sapong in the first half moments before Picault was robbed by Turner and Blake had a pair of highlight-reel saves to deny a Revolution team that outshot the Union 26-14 and had the bulk of the possession.
The three points for the Union moved them up into fifth place with 11 games remaining, but only one point separates them from Montreal and New England, which are even on points for the sixth and final playoff spot. The road win was their fourth of the season, which equals the total road wins they won in all of 2016 and 2017.
“The guys (showed) a ton of grit and heart tonight after a poor start to the second half,” head coach Jim Curtin said. “ Overall, I thought they stuck together in the hard moments. In these Eastern Conference games down the stretch a lot of times it isn’t so much about the beautiful soccer that’s played it’s more about grit and heart and you saw that from both teams tonight really on restarts getting a goal, deflections that maybe go your way and a penalty kick.”
The Union return home to take on another Eastern Conference rival next Saturday in NYCFC.