After a dire Open Cup exit in Harrison, the Philadelphia Union returned home to Chester on Sunday, in hope of mounting their push for Major League Soccer’s playoffs.
Wednesday took an L, but tonight they bounced back.
For our readers still behind on the times, behold: TODAY’S POP CULTURE.
Sincerely, on behalf of my generation, I am sorry.
Cringeworthy pop culture references aside, the Union responded to their exodus from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup earlier in the week by taking care of business at home, against a depleted New England side.
Fans looking for a swift response to Wednesday’s loss at Red Bull were rewarded early.
Referee Chris Penso rewarded the Union with a penalty just two minutes into the contest. Penso made no hesitation in pointing to the spot, after the ball struck the arm of New England defender, Benjamin Angoua.
CJ Sapong stepped up to the plate for the Union and calmly slotted the ball to the underside of the crossbar and into the net for his ninth goal of the current Major League Soccer campaign.
Fabrice-Jean Picault looked primed to join Sapong on the scoresheet just six minutes later, but it was not to be, as New England shot-stopper, Cody Cropper, stonewalled Picault who was in on goal.
Picault really should have done better, but then again, its hard to remember the last time I won a 35 yard footrace (or any race, for that matter).
An early penalty call, ensuing goal and several darting runs from Picault were all part of a high-flying start to the match for the Union.
Fans were treated to more excitement in the 12′ minute, when Andre Blake made one of his signature saves, the type he’s due for at least once a match.
A quick counter from New England saw Kei Kamara in on goal. Only, when Kamara looked up, he saw who was between the sticks. Blake came out strong and swift, smothering the ball at Kamara’s feet.
Neither team looked threatening for the remainder of the first half. Although Kamara did nearly take the head off of Oguchi Onyewu in the 29′ minute with a dangerous attempt at an overhead kick.
Moments into the second half, the Union picked up right where they left off: with more scoring chances, including more than questionable goal celebrations.
Ilsinho tallied the Union’s second goal of the match and his second of the year, with a brilliant half-volley that Cropper could only admire. Fans could also admire such elegant finishing, which the Union have sorely lacked, as of late.
Unbeknownst to fans, Ilsinho would follow up his gem with a shocking miss later in the match.
Philadelphia dictated much of the play in the second half, much to the appreciation of Talen Energy Stadium, which deservingly showered every Union pass with chants of “ole.”
Perhaps the only negative in the second half was the injury to Jack Elliot, who appeared to sustain an off the ball knee injury. Never good to see, and we hope that Crouchie, as Elliot is jokingly referred to by his teammates, is ok.
Crouchie has been a surprising staple alongside Onyewu in the Union backline this season, and would be a massive loss for Jim Curtin.
Elliot’s status remains unknown at the time of this article, however we will keep you updated.
Fans were treated to yet another wondrous goal late in the half, when Roland Alberg stepped onto the field. Literally. Alberg scored a screamer from 30 out just seconds after coming on for Ilsinho, who put in a Man of the Match worthy performance himself.
It was the icing on the cake — or rather apple pie (in keeping with the holiday season) — after a strong, bounce-back performance.
Here’s how the Eastern Conference table shapes up following the Union’s inspiring 3-0 victory:
Up next for the Philadelphia Union is an out-of-conference bout with one of Major League Soccer’s hottest teams: Sporting Kansas City (8 W, 7 D, 4 L). They’ll travel to Children’s Mercy Park on Thursday for that one.
And finally, UnionFanTV’s Lad of the Match goes to Roland Alberg because: who else? An easy decision for us. Not many players possess the natural ability to score a 30 yard belter from the sideline.
Did he even step on the field?
Look out for the next edition of U in Preview, as UnionFanTV will have a comprehensive preview of the upcoming match in Kansas City.