The Philadelphia Union bolstered their chances for a playoff berth with a 1-0 win over the New England Revolution in Chester on Saturday night.
Union starting XI: Blake; Rosenberry, Elliott, Trusty, Gaddis; Medujanin, Bedoya (Creavale 90+5’); Sapong (Ilsinho 68’), Dockal (Jones 82’), Picault; Burke
New England starting XI: Turner; Bye, Anibaba, Mancienne, Farrell; Penilla, Caicedo, Zahibo (Herivaux 89’), Agudelo; Fagundez, Machado (Wright 71’)
Jim Curtin continued to keep both C.J. Sapong and Cory Burke in the lineup as he has been doing lately. The Union caught a break as New England’s top goal scorer, Teal Bunbury, stayed home with a minor injury.
The first half was uneventful. Neither side could really take control of the run of play. The best chance for either side came in the 8th minute when Cory Burke got through the defense, but his shot toward the far post went wide.
But it was obvious from the start of the second half that it would be different when an Alejandro Bedoya shot from close range went wide. The Union continued to dominate the run of play when they finally broke through with a goal by Burke in the 54th minute. Burke received a pass on breakaway from Haris Medujaunin. New England goalkeeper Matt Turner came out in an attempt to stop Burke, but Burke ran around him and shot the ball into the empty net. But the offside flag was up. Burke was celebrating while the rest of the stadium thought the goal was called off. The Video Assistant Referee immediately called for a review, which showed Burke to have been barely onside, and the Union had the 1-0 lead. The Union were controlling the match at that point.
But as the half wore on, the Revs turned up the pressure as they saw their playoff hopes fading. The Union dodged a bullet in the 68th minute when the ball got behind Andre Blake, but Haris Medujanin was on the line and cleared the ball before the Revs could knock it in.
Momentum swung back toward the Union in the last 15 minutes. Instead of pushing for the second goal, Curtin subbed Derrick Jones in for Borek Dockal in the 82nd minute, and the Union were able to run out the clock and secure the victory.
After the match, Curtin said that despite the win, “this was not our best night of soccer,” but “these are the moments that can shape seasons, define seasons.” The Union are now solidly in fifth place, and catching Columbus for the fourth place slot is now on the radar. They return to action Wednesday night when they travel to the nation’s capitol to face Wayne Rooney and D.C. United.
• Raymon Gaddis became the all-time leader in minutes played for the Union.
• Sapong started his 100th match in blue and gold.
• Alejandro Bedoya limped off when Warren Creavalle replaced him in stoppage time, but Curtin says it was just cramps.
• Good crowd at Talen Energy Stadium. Official attendance was 18,052, including a sizable group of New England fans.