The Philadelphia Union gave Orlando City FC a 6-1 beatdown in the final match of the season for both teams. Ilsinho, Fafa Picault and C.J. Sapong all had braces, with Sapong setting the Union’s single-season scoring record with 16 goals this year.
Union first XI: Blake; Fabinho, Marquez, Elliott, Gaddis; Medunjanin, Bedoya; Picault (Pontius HT), Ilsinho, Epps (Carroll HT); Sapong (Alberg 85′)
Orlando City FC first XI: Edwards; Giro (Toia HT ), Pereira, Hines (Redding HT), Sutter; Yotun, Powers, Laryea; Barnes, Dwyer, Rivas (Nocerino 66′) .
The Union and Orlando City came into the match with the same number of points in the standings. With neither team in the playoff hunt, this would be a meaningless game. Jim Curtin opted to start most of regulars, the exception being Marcus Epps taking over Chris Pontius’ role. Sapong would get a chance to try to score his 15th goal of the season, which would give him the Union single-season scoring record. On the bench was Brian Carroll for his last game as a pro.
Orlando City’s head coach Jason Kreis took a different approach. He used the opportunity to giving some seldom-used guys some minutes. With top scorer Cyle Larin out with a hip injury and retiring designated player Kaka taking the day off, this would be an opportunity for the Boys in Blue to end the season on a high note.
And take advantage they did. The Union didn’t waste any time, scoring their first goal in the 4th minute. Ilsinho was on the receiving end of an Alejandro Bedoya cross, and he fired a bullet from the top of the 18-yard box past Orlando City’s goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. The U kept it coming with another goal 2 minutes later. This time it was Ilsinho with the assist to Fafa Picault, who headed the ball into the top of net to give the Boys in Blue a nice two-goal lead.
Picault heads the ball in for his first goal.
Photo: Frank Fimmano
The Union became less aggressive with their attacking for the next 20 minutes. Then in the 26th minute, Sapong got that record-breaking goal. Fabinho kicked the ball forward on the left, and Picault showed his speed as he ran past the Lions’ centerback Seb Hines to catch up to it. From there he crossed the ball where Sapong could knock it in from about 5 yards out.
Sapong sets the Union’s single-season scoring record.
Photo: Frank Fimmano
The Union kept pouring it on the Lions’ hapless scrubs when Picault scored his second goal of the night. Picault was racing down the field on a breakaway with nothing between him and Orlando City’s goalkeeper. Edwards came out to challenge him and Picault beat him with a nicely placed nutmeg to secure his brace.
Picault scores with the nutmeg.
Photo: Frank Fimmano
The Union would go into halftime enjoying a nice 4-goal lead. Epps had received a concussion and Picault suffered a foot contusion, so they were replaced by Carroll and Pontius to start the second half. Bedoya moved up to the number 10 spot and Ilsinho moved to the wing to accommodate Carroll.
Four goals weren’t enough for the Union, so they scored again in the 63rd minute. The Union found themselves with a 3-on-3, with Haris Medunjanin bringing the ball down the center of the field. He passed to his left where Ilsinho made another nice shot past Edwards for his second goal of the night.
It wasn’t all rosy for the Union though. In the 72nd minute, Yoshimar Yosun took a free kick from about 20 yards out on the right, and Dom Dwyer headed it in to avoid the shutout. It was the only blemish on what was otherwise a great night by Andre Blake tending the goal.
But the Union bounced back 2 minutes later as Sapong scored his second goal of the night to pad his scoring record a little more. Edwards saved a shot on goal by Medunjanin, but Sapong was right there to knock in the rebound. This would give Sapong 16 goals on the season, which was well-deserved considering the beating he had been taking from opposing players all year.
The Union easily closed out the game after that as Orlando City basically waved the white flag.
After the game, Curtin remarked that his team actually ended the season with the same number of points as last year, but it was not enough as the rest of the Eastern Conference had “raised the bar.” He noted that their performance on the road just wasn’t good enough. The MLS post-season is ready to start, but for Union the off-season has now begun.
- The Union did a nice job marking Carroll’s last game with a tribute video before the match, and a presentation of a framed jersey. The Sons of Ben did a good job cheering him on by chanting his name after the tribute. And for good measure, Carroll got to wear the captain’s armband when he came in.
- The Union should thank Kreis for putting out a lineup of scrubs, allowing the Union to turn their last gasp of 2017 into a party.
- This was Edwards’ MLS debut, and it is one he will want to forget. I can’t help wondering if the score would’ve been different if regular goalkeeper Joe Bendik had been playing
- Blake was once again a human highlight reel. I dread the day he is no longer the Union goalkeeper (which could be as soon as next year, as the Union will surely get offers for him). If he goes, the Union had better get some value for him.
Lastly, thanks to all of you for following us here at Pattison Ave this season. Stay tuned for our off-season coverage.