Putting the US Open Cup competition in their rear view mirror, on this long Independence Day weekend, the Philadelphia Union (5-7-4, 19pts, 10 Place Eastern Conference) welcomed the New England Revolution (5-7-5, 20pts, 9th Place). At the mid-point of the season this was a pivotal game for each team trying to edge closer to the playoffs Red Line.
It was the Union who made the most of the opportunity shutting out the Revolution 3-0, with a two goal outburst in the second half. In the process they jumped into 8th place, 3 Pts below the Red Line with two games in hand over the Columbus Crew.
Union Starting XI: 4-2-3-1
GK Andre Blake, D’s Jack Elliott, Oguchi Onyewu, Raymon Gaddis, Giliano Wijnaldum, MF’s Derrick Jones, Haris Medunjanin, Ilsinho, Chris Pontius, Fafa Picault, F C. J. Sapong
Revolution Starting XI: 4-2-3-1
GK Cody Cropper, D’s Donald Smith, Benjamin Angoua, Joshua Smith, Andrew Farrell, MF’s Gershon Koffie, Lee Nguyen, Je-Vaughn Watson, Teal Bunbury, Scott Caldwell, F Kei Kamara
The Union got a very early break as NE handled a ball just inside or outside the box depending on the angle you watch, on a Sapong cross that went off Angua’s arm, just on the cusp of 2′ – 3′ mark. C. J. buried the PK high over Cropper.
The Union failed to keep up the pressure and the last 30′ or so of the half belonged to the Revs, as Blake had to make a few tough saves like the one in the 12′ point blank on Kamara coming in all alone on a two on one. The Boys In Blue were outshot 6-4, and out possessed 58.9 – 41.1. Somehow though, the U clung to a 1-Nil lead at the break.
The team had talked at half-time per Head Coach Jim Curtin and Medunjanin at the post-game press conference.
“We had played a first half that I thought was a little bit tentative,” Curtin said “We talked about it at half-time about closing guys in terms of coming out of that jog.” He added “in the second half…the guys responded in a big way”
Respond they did as the Union struck early again in the second stanza as Picault received a ball on the right side, and then neatly passed it to Ilsinho, who one-timed it over Cropper to make it 2-0 Union 48′
The Post was the 12th man as Je-Vaughn Watson had Blake beat in the 50′. The Union then seemed content to lay back until around the 60′ or so when they picked the pressure back up again. This paid off for a few very good chances that went astray.
Then seemingly out of nowhere in the 78′, just after coming on, Roland Alberg lofted a Golazo from just inside 30 yards out, over Cropper, to give them the eventual 3-Nil lead.
63′ Josh Yaro for Elliot, 78′ Roland Alberg for Ilsinho, 87′ Ken Tribbett for Medunjanin
There were no cards for the Union.
52′ Brian Wright for D Smith, 71′ Hollinger-Janzen for Kamara, 78′ Chris Tierney for Caldwell
Je-Vaughn Watson 45’+3′, Benjamin Angoua 68′
Tribbet’s 3’+ where his first minutes of the season.
It is Andre Blake’s seventh Clean Sheet of the season, two behind Sporting Kansas City‘s Tim Melia who has played 2 more games. It is a career high for Blake.
What a pleasure to watch an overall cleanly played, non-chippy game, a nice change from the rugbyesque matches that were the ones against the Red Bulls and DC lately. The Union easily could have scored more goals – Sapong and Ilsinho each missed a few easy chances late – but Curtin and we will chalk that up to the 120′ Open Cup Match this week, and they know they have to work on that. In the end though the 16,143 in attendance were pleased with the low pressure W, and hope that the team can build on this in the second half of the season.
The Union have yet another short week as they travel to the mid-west to face Sporting Kansas City (8-4-7, 31 Pts, 1st Place Western Conference) on Thursday, 8:30 PM on CSN. KC are 6-0-3 at home after a 1-1 draw on Saturday with the visiting Portland Timbers.