In a chippy match that saw a little bit of everything, the Union played the role of hostile host and sent NYCFC back to the Big Apple with nary a point Saturday night in Chester, winning 2-0.
Cory Burke scored his sixth goal, Ilsinho added a dazzling insurance tally, and Andre Blake recorded his sixth shutout of the year.
Union first XI: Andre Blake; Ray Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Keegan Rosenberry; Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya; David Accam (Ilsinho 68′), Borek Dockal (Warren Creavalle 88′), C.J. Sapong; Cory Burke
NYCFC first XI: Sean Johnson; Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot, Ben Sweat, Alexander Callens (Ronald Matarrita 65′); Max Moralez, Alexander Ring, Ebenezer Ofori; Jo Inge Berget, David Villa (Jesus Medina 56′), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (Rodney Wallace 82′)
The first half was an open affair with both teams having ample chances. Each side registered five shots with two apiece on goal; both Andre Blake and NYCFC keeper Sean Johnson were called upon to make dazzling stops to keep the match scoreless, with Blake’s coming just two minutes in. Union defender Auston Trusty was repeatedly beaten in what appeared to be miscommunication on the back line, sending attackers repeatedly in on Blake almost unchecked, but Blake handled the pressure with aplomb.
The pitch became a running subplot in this match, with players from both sides slipping on the recently rained-upon surface. Multiple attacks for both sides were snuffed out by questionable footing, and it caused some wonder if anyone was going to be able to score at all. We would get our answer early in the second half just moments after NYCFC subbed Villa off, when an inch-perfect Borek Dockal pass sprung Cory Burke free on the left side of the box. Burke made no mistake about it, beating Johnson low and hard to the right and sending the ball into the corner of the net for a 1-0 Union lead in the 57th minute.
Ilsinho would add to the Union lead in the 71st minute when Dockal found him on the right, and he took on two defenders on the right side of the box, split them, then beat a third defender with a step-over to open up a left-footed shot for himself, which gave Johnson no chance and doubled the advantage.
NYCFC kept pressing but couldn’t crack the Union D (which had steadied itself from a wobbly first half), which led to visible frustration. Ronald Mattarita got tangled up with Ilsinho, causing Ilsinho to go down injured; moments later, Mattarita gave a studs-up challenge to Ilsinho in stoppage and was shown red, leading to an automatic one-match suspension.
The win kept the Union in fifth in the East and tied with Montreal (who stole a win from the fading Fire at the death Saturday night) in the standings on 33 points each. The boys in blue also have two matches in hand on the Impact. If the playoffs started today, the Union would travel to Columbus for the first round.
Notes: Cory Burke took the Union goal-scoring lead with his sixth goal tonight… Borek Dockal added to his Union-leading assist total of 12, and moved into a tie for second place in the league with that total…the Union all-time single-season assist record is 15, held by Chaco Maidana…Fafa Picault served a one-match suspension for accumulation tonight and will be available for selection next week against New England at home.