The Union won in emphatic fashion against Minnesota United FC Saturday night in Chester by a score of 5-1. The win ensures the Union will advance to the post-season for just the third time in their nine-year existence.
Union first XI: Blake; Trusty, McKenzie, Rosenberry, Gaddis; Medunjanin, Bedoya; Picault, Dockal (Creavalle 77′), Sapong (Ilsinho 61′); Burke (Simpson 86′)
Minnesota first XI: Bobby Shuttleworth; Jerome Thiesson (Darwin Quintero 46′), Michael Boxall, Brent Kallman, Francisco Calvo; Rasmus Schuller (Ibson 76′), Fernando Bob; Maximiniano (Harrison Heath 70′), Darwin Quintero, Miguel Ibarra; Angelo Rodriguez
It didn’t take long for the fireworks to start in this one. After a Minnesota chance got blocked in the Union box in the second minute, the Union exerted control of the match, and it took just eight minutes for the first Union goal to be scored. Cory Burke redeemed himself for scuffing a shot about eight yards out by taking on two defenders on a ball over the top from Borek Dockal, winning possession on the right of the box, and firing a low, hard shot to the left of Bobby Shuttleworth and into the goal for a 1-0 lead. The Dockal assist gave him the team record for a single season with sixteen.
It took just nine minutes for the next Union goal. Alejandro Bedoya made a run into the box and got onto a Keegan Rosenberry cross, flicking it past Shuttleworth to double the Union advantage. Dockal got a secondary assist (his seventeenth of the year) for providing the ball to Rosenberry as well. It was Rosenberry who was key on the next goal as well. In the 23rd minute, Haris Medunjanin took a quick restart and fed Rosenberry, who unlocked the Loons defense and slid Fafa Picault in alone on Shuttleworth. Picault made no mistake of it, and the Union were up 3-0.
Whether it was his recent USMNT call-up that had Picault running a gear higher or something else, we’ll never know, but after missing his first attempt at a bender to the far post from the right (thanks to another quality Dockal feed that sprung him down the left), his second attempt from about the same place in the 44th minute froze everyone (including poor Bobby Shuttleworth) and nestled softly into the upper corner netting for a 4-0 Union advantage. Mercifully, Allen Chapman blew his whistle, and the teams went back to the rooms.
In a desperate attempt to get anything going offensively, Minnesota gaffer Adrian Heath removed defender Jerome Thiesson in favor of Alexi Gomez and went three in the back. The Loons began faring better in the offensive half, generating some chances and forcing Blake into a couple Blake-ean saves before a low shot to the near post from Darwin Quintero bested the Jamaican keeper and gave Minnesota their first and only entry on the scoreboard, 4-1.
Were the Union done? No they weren’t. The entrance of Ilsinho for Sapong in the 62nd injected new life into the Union offense. Ilsinho immediately began combining with Keegan Rosenberry and Alejandro Bedoya to create chances. Finally, in the 79th minute, Ilsinho walked the ball across the top of the box from about thirty yards out and laced an absolute cracker of a shot that the besieged Shuttleworth could not reach, making the score 5-1 and providing the final tally.
- The win puts the Union into the playoffs, and also in front of Columbus for the honor to host a home playoff match. The Crew, who faced Montreal in their own bid to join the post-season, lost 3-0 earlier today.
- Borek Dockal could not have been hotter. He dominated the first half and was easily the best player on the field.
- This was a match the Union should have won, and they did, which tells us two things: the Union have matches they should win now, and they are capable of doing so.