On a night when all eyes were on Argentine international Gonzalo Higuaín, it was a 20-year-old from Delaware who grew up rooting for Juventus that stole the show.
Anthony Fontana scored his fourth goal this month in just his second career MLS start and after the game got an earful from the veteran international, who got into a spat with Kai Wagner and Jose Martinez after he skied a penalty kick attempt in the second half.
“I wasn’t on the field for that, but after the game Higuaín came up to me I think he got me and Kai mixed up because he was pointing at me saying something and I didn’t understand,” Fontana said. “But I said hey, good game.”
Fontana started in place of captain Alejandro Bedoya, who was serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation and had the challenging task of facing another former Juve player in Blaise Matuidi. He played further up the field in the 10 role with Brenden Aaronson dropping back to the spot Bedoya usually plays.
“The fact that I was up against Matuidi pretty much the whole night was just an awesome experience and I was up for the test,” Fontana said. “I really wanted to test myself and feel like I did well.”
Fontana scored his fourth goal of the season in the 25th minute after a great move in the box and a blistering finish. He’s now scored four goals on 10 shot attempts this season.
“As you saw tonight he’s a very lethal finisher,” Curtin said.
Higuain might end up being the fanboy tonight pic.twitter.com/6Os8Y7PAro— Brotherly Game (@BrotherlyGame) September 28, 2020
While Higuaín and company came up empty-handed in the shutout loss, the 32-year-old put pressure on the Union defense early with a chance in the 13th minute and connected on a bicycle kick in the 19th minute that glanced off the far post.
“He has the overhead kick, which there’s certain things that are just a different level; you know he’s a world class striker, his movement in the box is dangerous,” head coach Jim Curtin said. “It felt scary at times but I thought that, you know, all things considered, our guys did a good job of limiting the amount of touches that he had.”
While Curtin acknowledged that on any other night the league’s newest European import could have easily gotten two goals, the shutout win for the Union is another step in the right direction for a group full of confidence, rising now to second place in the Eastern Conference just two points behind the Columbus Crew after their loss to Toronto FC on Sunday.
“Everybody’s contributing right now and that locker room is really excited, really happy, and they’re really together, which is probably the most important thing,” Curtin said.