Though the final score line of 3-0 might not seem like it, Andre Blake stepped up when he was needed most with a penalty kick save and a denial of a well hit strike from Darlington Nagbe after the hosts went down to 10 men to lead the Philadelphia Union to a standings climbing three points on Sunday afternoon.
The Union were pretty well in control and up 2-0 on goals from Jack Elliott and Alejandro Bedoya when Kai Wagner was shown his second yellow in the 64th minute. The mostly toothless Crew attack didn’t necessarily come alive but a penalty called on a clash between Alvas Powell and Gyasi Zardes put the Crew in position to cut the lead in half but Pedro Santos telegraphed a fairly easy penalty for Blake to deny and keep the zero on the board.
Fifteen minutes later Nagbe connected on a ball inside the D off a clearance and struck it toward the upper 90 where Blake was able to make an acrobatic move to get his right hand to the ball and knock it out of play.
The second save took the air out of the Crew comeback attempt and Leon Flach made it three unlikely goal-scorers on the day and a 3-0 win when he fired a shot off a long cross from Quinn Sullivan and Crew goalkeeper Evan Bush helped it along into the back of the net. The goal was the first in a Union uniform for Flach and followed goals by captain Alejandro Bedoya just after halftime on a late run to deposit a Kacper Pryzybylko cut-back into the net and a Jack Elliott free kick in the 25th minute.
Elliott’s strike wasn’t exactly goal of the week material but it set the tone for a game that was really only in question during the 15 minute stretch between Blake saves. The win was the ninth of the season at home for the boys in blue and pushed the Union from 7th to third place in the Eastern Conference standings with seven games remaining.
It also marked the debut of Jesus Bueno in a Union uniform. The Venezuelan, who was acquired by the Union in late July, subbed on in the 89th minute.
Up next, the Union head to Cincinnati looking for their first road win since May 23. They’ll do so short-handed with multiple international call-ups expected.