Finally, the performance we’ve all been waiting for! Despite the late west coast start time Sunday night, not to mention a delay because of NASCAR, the Philadelphia Union gave an extremely lively performance, beating Portland 2-0 on Sunday/Monday.
After weeks of draws and the inability to just finish out a match for the three points, the Union finally gave the 90-minute performance fans had been waiting for for weeks.
“It’s still a long way to go as the coach I’m still actually angry at some of the points we dropped because there could be some more separation in the Eastern Conference if we took care of business,” head coach Jim Curtin said after the match. “But this is a big three points.”
Daniel Gazdag opened the scoring with an incredible overhead kick goal off of a flicked long throw-in in the 5th minute of play. Gazdag has been a man possessed this season, the bike his team-leading seventh goal of the season. Any time the Union has needed a big play, the Hungarian international has been there to provide.
“I think it’s a really good atmosphere and a really nice stadium to score a goal like this,” Gazdag said post-game when asked about the goal.
Sergio Santos finally entered his name into the goal-scoring sheet for the first time this season, a goal that he desperately needed. It was a sequence that should put a smile on any Union supporter’s face. Jack Elliott hustled to keep the ball in play, and Kai Wagner played in a perfect ball to find Santos’ head. Hopefully, this can unclog the scoring faucet for Santos moving forward.
“That’s a big goal for Sergio and a big spot to give us a little breathing room,” Curtin said. “We haven’t been able to get that second goal and in a lot of ways, that’s the best defense on the road... You get that second goal now Portland has to make subs and they kind of go into something that isn’t their strength chasing a game.”
This team was the potential of the Union squad. They’ve been searching for who they can be as a unit, and this is what they should be striving for. The offense looked much better than in recent weeks, having more energy out of the halves than they’ve shown in over a month. Everyone hustled and the chemistry was definitely improved moving forward. In recent matches, the Union have scored a goal on a really nice sequence but struggled to create chances outside of it. Not tonight though, the Union pressing the Portland defense throughout the match.
On the other side of the field, the Union defense showed once again why they are the best in MLS and have still not reached double digits in goals conceded through 13 games. Eighty-six minutes went by before the hosts could register a shot on net, nearly the entire game. Of course, Andre Blake made some fantastic saves to end the match too, because of course he did. The Union have only allowed nine goals all season.
Despite their “disastrous” past month and a half of form… the Union still remain in first place in the Eastern Conference. Yes, they disappointed heavily against Inter Miami on Wednesday. But, it makes this performance even more pleasing. This looked a lot more like the team from the first month of the season, the team that can compete for the MLS Cup.
They will try and build off this performance when they head back east to play New England Revolution on Saturday with a kickoff slated for 7:38 p.m.