So goes Jose Martinez so goes the Philadelphia Union. Or at least that’s how it has seemed this season. When El Brujo is on good things happen.
And that’s what happened on Sunday in a gritty win over NYCFC.
Martinez is generally the focal point when the two Eastern Conference heavyweights meet because of how much he seems to clash with NYCFC players like Taty Castellanos. Martinez’s red card last season in the team’s first meeting was a case of Taty getting the better of him but Sunday was the El Brujo show even before his long-range blast hit Cory Burke’s hip and went in to win the game.
Whether he was clearing the ball with an overhead kick, making a key tackle in the box or just matching NYC’s aggression without crossing the line into card territory (he didn’t go into the book at all on the day), Martinez had himself a game worthy of the MLS Team of the Week nod.
Sadly, the Team of the Week does not include training staff or Paul Rushing would be on there. Our Community Player Ratings poll does not either but I’m sure Rushing will get some mentions in the comments after he was sent off in the match for an altercation with NYCFC players.
Other standouts on the day included Jack Elliott, who was on the bench for Team of the Week, and Leon Flach, who made arguably the biggest defensive play of the game when he blocked a late shot attempt from NYCFC just inside the box. Alejandro Bedoya continues to be a problem offensively — he had another left-footed shot in the box blocked — and is showing why it’s hard for Jim Curtin to take him off the field.
Though overall not the prettiest of games and one the Union could’ve easily tied or lost with a less than stellar second half display no one expects perfection if the result is there when playing against a team that is currently the Union’s biggest rival.
What did you think of the individual performances? Weigh in and share your thoughts on the game in our Community Player Ratings poll.