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Union cruises to first place with dominant win over shorthanded Toronto FC

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Sergio Santos lead the offensive explosion with a hat trick

Morgan Tencza

CHESTER, Pa. — The game that was billed as a showdown of the two teams with the best record in the league ended up being a coronation for the Philadelphia Union in a dominant 5-0 win over Toronto FC on Saturday night.

With Jose Martinez returning to give head coach Jim Curtin a first choice lineup, the Union came out firing early just missing on a few tantalizing chances. Kai Wagner set up the breakthrough in the 27th minute when he threaded the needle into the box and Sergio Santos got a touch to put it past Quentin Westberg, who was sensational for the visitors on the night with 7 saves.

Unlike when they took a first half lead in their last meeting and later lost 2-1 after failing to get a second, Mark McKenzie doubled the lead when he was left wide open in front of the goal and headed down a Kacper Przybylko header off a Jamiro Monteiro corner kick.

The only negative from a dominant first half was Monteiro picking up a yellow card that will see him miss Wednesday’s match against the Chicago Fire. As he has been over the recent run of games, Monteiro was sensational on the night recording a secondary assist on McKenzie’s goal and scoring one of his own to open the second half floodgates in the 56th minute.

Brenden Aaronson didn’t show up on the score sheet for Monteiro’s goal but it was his dummy on the pass from Przybylko that set up Monteiro for a shot that glanced the underside of the bar and went in to make it 3-0.

Wagner and Santos combined again to make it 4-0 in the 63rd minute and Aaronson got an assist on the goal that completed Santos’s hat trick in the 68th minute, which was the first for a Union player since CJ Sapong in 2017.

Comfortably ahead, the Union saw out the game with a handful of subs — Jack Elliott, Anthony Fontana, Ilsinho, Andrew Wooten and Cory Burke — and ended up outshooting the Reds 27-3 and controlling 52.9 percent of the possession.

With three games left, the Union are now in the driver’s seat to win the Supporters’ Shield, even on points with Toronto but plus 14 in goal differential (plus 22 overall) thanks to a game that is arguably one of their most complete performances not only this season but in team history.