On a late March evening where the lamb of March had yet to arrive in the Delaware Valley, those who showed up of the announced crowd of 15,135, saw the Philadelphia Union (1-2-1, 4 Pts, 8th Place Eastern Conference), shut out the Columbus Crew SC (2-1-1, 7 Pts, 2nd Place) 3-Nil.
Columbus Crew SC Starting XI: 4,2,3,1
GK Joe Bendik; Ds Jonathan Mensah, Gaston Sauro, Hector Jimenez, Harrison Afful; MFs, Ricardo Clark, Artur, Robinho, Frederico “Pippa” Higuain (C), Pedro Santos; F Patrick Mullins
Union Starting XI: 4,1,2,1,2
GK Carlos Miguel Coronel; Ds Auston Trusty, Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner, Raymon Gaddis; MFs Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya (C),Ilsinho, Brenden Aaronson; Fs; David Accam, Fafa Picault
It was a very different first half than we are used to seeing from the U. Instead of dominating the stats, but not finishing, they were efficient in making their runs count. Great passing by Picault and Medunjanin, and determination by Accam, got them to a 2-Nil lead.
The first goal by Accam came on a beautiful feed by FaFa. 31′ Medunjanin was given a secondary assist.
This broke a long drought for Accam who had not scored since last July.
II came on a great one on three by Accam 41′
Columbus had the TOP advantage 53.3 – 46.7, but the shots were even at 3 apiece, with only on on target for an easy save by Coronel early. That would wind up being all Carlos had to do in this match.
The Union extended their lead early after a throw in and some balls batted around in the box, Columbus appeared to let up and left Ilsinho all alone to the right of Bendik who had no chance. 48′ Accam was given an assist on the play.
That was Ilsinho’s first of the season.
The Union did a very good job holding onto that lead not only defending well, but pushing the play enough to keep Columbus off balance. Unlike earlier matches the defense was so solid the Coronel faced only one shot on target, for probably the easiest clean-sheet of his career.
Columbus Crew SC Cards:
Columbus Crew SC Subs:
Jerome Williams for Mullins 54′
Luis Argudo for Artur 65′
Eduardo Sosa for Robinho 84′
Olivier Mbaizo for Ilsinho 75′
Anthony Fontana for Aaronson 81′
Both teams were depleted by national team call-ups, the U with the continued suspension of Marco Fabián, as well as the Visa problems for Jamiro Monteiro, only had five players available for substitution , and each had goalies getting their first starts for their teams. The Union seemed to be the better for that as they had some better all-around play making than any point this young season. Even though the Crew lead in TOP 55-45, the U outshot the Crew 9-5 overall, 5-1 on goal.
As Head Coach Jim Curtin noted near the start of his post game presser, after saying it was the “most unique” week of his career in terms of putting a lineup together: “Before the game we talked about 16 guys in this locker room doing what it takes to get three points. Not about formations, not about tactics, not about any of that. It’s about finding a way in our home stadium to take three points.”
That is exactly the kind of attitude to take in adversity, and moving forward to some sense of normality as well, as the season progresses.
On the crowd. Even though the turnout was less than what they would like, those that were here – especially the Sons Of Ben and the rest of the River End – were vociferous from start to finish. So much so that Curtin thanked them to start the press conference:
” I felt that the stadium was loud tonight and pushed us on when needed it.”
Hopefully if this team plays like it did tonight, the fans will return for the two home games in April, and what could be the all important five matches in May. I would love to not have to get on them again like I did last season.
On David Accam we were told after the game that his Father passed away a week ago from Cancer, so this was an especially emotional night for him.
“Personally it’s been a tough week for me on and off the field so for me to get my first two goals of the season at home it’s amazing.”
It is moments like this that bring Sports and Real Life together, and make us appreciate how professional athletes have to deal with both in the public eye.
Our condolences to the Accam family.
The Union hit the road again to face FC Cincinnati (1-1-1, 4 Pts, 7th Place, Eastern Conference) next Saturday at 7:30 PM on PHL17. Hopefully they can keep this momentum going. Cincy plays New England Revolution (0-2-1, 1Pt, Last Place) tomorrow afternoon.