Philadelphia Union coach Jim Curtain knew it. And his players knew it.
After scoring a goal in the 10th minute, everyone figured the young FC Dallas squad was content to sit back, pack it in and try to ride out the final 80 minutes to pick up a road victory.
And it almost worked.
The Union, applying constant pressure, finally broke through the Dallas defense and scored two goals, including the game-winner in stoppage time, to rally for a wild and entertaining 2-1 victory.
Corey Burke tied the game in the 85th minute, on a rebound off a penalty kick, and then Alejandro Bedoya finished an impressive individual effort in stoppage time to put the Union ahead.
“These are the kinds of wins that can build real character and strength,” Curtain said. “I give all of the guys a ton of credit – all of the starters and the guys who came off the bench. It was a real team victory and shows we have a really improved group from last year.”
It was the third straight win and extended the Union’s unbeaten streak to four games. The victory also pushed them into a three-way tie for second place in the Eastern Conference.
Yet, until the final five minutes of regulation, it looked as if the streaks were going to end.
Despite outshooting Dallas, 18-3, controlling possession, 57 percent to 43, and completing 100 more passes than Dallas, the Union had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
Then, they caught a break.
Jamiro Monteiro, who entered the game for Ray Gaddis in the 78th minute, rifled a shot that Dallas keeper Jimmy Maurer blocked with his forearms, but the momentum carried the ball behind him. In the mad scramble to get to the ball, Dallas defender Matt hedges tackled Burke near the goal line.
The referee awarded the Union a penalty kick, but Maurer guessed correctly on the attempt and stopped Marco Fabian’s shot. However, Burke barreled into the box like a freight train and hammered in the rebound to tie the game.
“As soon as Marco approached the ball, I knew I had to be ready for anything,” said Burke, who relieved Fafa Picault in the 55th minute. “We got one goal back, and we knew we had to go out and score another one.”
A couple minutes into extra time, Bedoya received a touch pass inside the box from Ilsinho, who was subbed into the game for David Accam in the 68th minute. The Union captain lunged past one defender, cut away from the goal to avoid another and then chopped a low shot that skirted between a defender’s legs and Maurer’s out-stretched arms into the far corner of the net that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
“When Ilsinho came in, he was such a difference-maker,” Bedoya said. “I knew he was going to do something with the ball. I was trying to find where to move in between the defender, and then he chipped it [to me]. I got past one guy and then another guy came. I cut and then I finally got one of those goals all those strikers get.”
Dallas jumped in front behind a jaw-dropping free kick by Reto Ziegler, who curled the left-footed shot over the wall and into the near corner to end the Union’s shutout streak at 210 minutes. Union goalie Andre Blake, lined up on the opposite side of the net, didn’t budge.
From there, Dallas played prevent defense until Burke, and the rest of the Union, exploited it – just in time.
“It was huge to get the three points in a game we deserved to get three points out of,” Bedoya said. “We controlled almost the whole game. It was a great effort from all of the guys … we were able to grind out the win.”