Did the Philadelphia Union need that or what?
After conceding a goal on a bad giveaway in the 10th minute and looking like they might concede again, the Union stormed back and made the most of a pair of straight red cards to return to the win column with a 3-1 win over Orlando City Wednesday night.
Coming in for the first of a home-and-home series with Orlando in desperate need of three points to maintain their lead in the East, Chris Mueller got the home crowd buzzing when he beat Jack Elliott one v one and tucked a shot inside the near post after Auston Trusty gave the ball away.
Playing at a frantic pace in the rain, the teams traded attacks but it was Kacper Pryzybylko who got the Union back in the game after receiving a pass from Jamiro Monteiro in the box and faking a shot with his right to fool his mark and then tucking a low left footed shot inside the far post.
Just before halftime, the game was turned on its head when Robin Jansson took down Fafa Picault from behind and was rightfully sent off after video review on a play that initially earned him only a yellow card. Jansson’s tackle from behind on its own warranted the straight red even if it wasn’t a denial of a goal scoring opportunity.
Heading into the second half up a man, Orlando head coach James O’Connor opted to go defensive to try and hold on for the draw by subbing out Nani for Reading United alum Kamal Miller to give the Lions an extra defender. That move was quickly nullified when Haris Medunjanin sent a long ball into the box that Alejandro Bedoya was somehow able to not only keep from going out over the end line but was able to hit back to Przybylko in the box for a rocketed half-volley that made it 2-1.
Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson and Picault combined to make it 3-1 five minutes later when Monteiro fed the ball into the box to Aaronson, who slipped it in behind to Picault, who roofed it with a powerful finish for his third goal of the season.
Orlando City went down to nine men in the 67th minute on a straight red card that didn’t need VAR for Chris Penso to show to Sacha Kljestan for a harsh take down from behind on Monteiro, who ended up leaving the match early from the heavy challenge.
Monteiro was credited with two assists on the night for the second game in a row and now leads the team with seven. Kacper’s two goals extended his team lead to eight. He has four goals in his last three games and eight in 13 appearances for the season.
One downside of an otherwise crucial victory was that the Union were unable to score against nine men for the final 23 minutes of the match even with head coach Jim Curtin bringing in offensive-minded subs Marco Fabián, Sergio Santos and Anthony Fontana.
The Union will return home to face a depleted Lions team on Saturday that won’t have the services of Jansson or Kljestan. Now on 35 points, the Union have a four-point lead on second place D.C. United (one game in hand) and a five point lead on third place Montreal Impact.