A five-goal second half after a lackluster first 45 minutes led to a 6-1 win over last place New England Revolution on Saturday night, keeping the Philadelphia Union at the top of the standings in the Eastern Conference.
Playing their third game in eight days, the Union had a mostly unchanged lineup from Wednesday with the only changes being Kai Wagner (back from suspension) and Carlos Miguel Coronel starting over the injured Matt Freese, and Olivier Mbaizo being relegated back to a bench role.
Jack Elliott put the team ahead 1-0 in the 11th minute after a fantastic turn and shot that he rifled past the Revolution keeper. The Revs responded with a goal of their own from striker Juan Caicedo in the 35tn minute, and really should have had more. To make matters worse, the goal was scored right after Brenden Aaronson came off the field with an injury and the Union were down a man during the play. Illsinho was subbed on for Aaronson and Philadelphia ended the half visibly frustrated with their sloppy play and some calls that weren’t going their way.
The response by the Union in the second half was nothing short of dominate. The expected storm came, but instead of rain, it came as five “Doops in the ol’ Onion Bag” to quote Union play-by-play announce Tommy Smyth. In the 47th minute, Ilsinho received a quick give-and-go pass back from Jamiro Monteiro (who was an absolute nuisance to the Revs all night) and chipped the keeper from close range in a cheeky finish from the Brazilian to put the Union up 2-1. The Revs never recovered after that.
Ilsinho wasn’t the only Brazillian to get in on the act. Sergio Santos, in his first action for the first team since week two after back-to-back injuries, scored his first and second goals for the Union (although the first may be ruled an own goal). Santos was brought on for Fafa Picault in the 64th minute and made an instant impact. He scored in the 69th minute off a low cross from Wagner deflecting it into the path of defender Andrew Farrell. Five minutes later, he rebounded a shot from Kacper to complete the brace.
The other Brazilian, goalkeeper Carlos Miguel Coronel, also made a key save early in the game. His double save, which kept the game scoreless, led to the transition goal by Ilsinho.
Kacper Przybylko kept his hot streak alive, scoring his third goal in as many starts in the 82nd minute to put the Union up 5-1. Ilsinho combined with captain Alejandro Bedoya on the give-and-go and Bedoya played it back across to Kacper to bury it into a wide open net.
Three minutes later, Curtin brought on David Accam for Monterio, and Accam scored in the 88th minute after the Sons of Ben cheered for another goal to complete the 6-1 drubbing of the Revs. New England looked absolutely defeated in the last 10 minutes, and coach Brad Friedel’s team looked disorganized in defense all night. The Revs sat way too far back and let the Union pick them apart for the entire second half.
The Sons of Ben deserve a shout out. The River End was bumping all night long, and Talen Energy Stadium was as loud as it has been in a long time.
The Union set several records tonight with their offensive outburst in the second half, including the franchise record for most shots on target in a game (15) and most individual goal scorers in a game (5) as well as tying the record for most goals in a second half (5). The team registered 13 shots on goal in the second half, and easily could have scored several more goals with the chances they generated.
The first half was undeniably ugly for the team, with the ref calling 13 first half fouls on the Union. The play toward the end of the half was disjointed, and many players were out of position. They looked tired before the half, but the team destroyed any notions of tired legs with a dominant display in the second half.
Curtin said of the halftime talk “I thought about losing my mind…but decided to stay positive.” The players knew they played a poor half and responded accordingly.
The players response speaks to the cohesiveness the veterans in the squad and Curtin have developed in the locker room. There is still a push to get better, even though the team is exceeding expectations, which is a real sign of maturity. All three of Curtin’s substitutions scored, and fans should get behind what an incredible job he has has done to start the year.
The biggest negative was the left hip injury that 18-year-old playmaker Brendon Aaronson picked up early in the game. Curtin mentioned that Aaronson was “optimistic it wasn’t serious” and hopefully the academy grad is back to full health soon.
The Union now have a league-leading 12 different goal scorers on the season. Goals are coming from pretty much everywhere, except Gaddis, who had his chance stolen by Santos late in the game.
The first place Union now look forward to a huge rematch against Toronto next Saturday in a matchup of two of the best teams in the East.
What were your thoughts on the Union’s dominate play against New England? Let’s hear them in the comments.