One of the main inconsistences this season for the Philadelphia Union has been the production from the number ten role. Whether it has been Roland Alberg, Ilsinho, or even Alejandro Bedoya, there has been much left to desire from whomever has been plugged into that position. But Saturday, Union fans were pleased with the performance Ilsinho put in and he proved to Jim Curtin he is the top choice for the attacking role going forward as the Union look to climb back up the Eastern Conference standings.
Squaring off against one of the top teams in the MLS, the Union knew it would be crucial to keep defensive shape. The had a bend not break mentality and throughout the first half that was key to keeping FC Dallas off the board. They stayed disciplined and compact and were up to the challenge as a collective group when Dallas utilized their speed and were able to break fast on turnovers from the Union. And when they did get clean looks at goal, John McCarthy stepped up with a handful of big saves over the course of the 90 minutes.
Offensively, the Union came out of the gate with an energy and confidence that they seemed to have gathered from all the wins they have collected at home. They put the first goal of the game away just 17 minutes into the match. Ilsinho beat a few defenders as he dribbled the ball from half field to the final third. After stringing together a few passes on the right side, the ball found its way to Haris Medunjanin who played it to Ilsinho and kept his run going. Ilsinho played a beautiful one-time backheel pass right back to Medunjanin. He then put a ball back across the net on his first touch to Sapong who slotted it home for the 1-0 lead.
Not long after in the 22nd minute, Ilsinho put his stamp on the game again. Off a long throw in, a clearing header found its way to Ilsinho. He hit it first time from the top of the box and rifled it to the bottom corner of the goal.
The start of the second half saw a few substitutions and formation change for FC Dallas, which did limit the Union attack that seemed lethal in the first half. But it was the Union who would strike again in the 68th minute thanks to the high pressure from the midfield.
A couple of pretty one-touch give-and-goes between Sapong and Ilsinho saw Ilsinho get a clean look at goal. Chris Seitz came up with the save, but the rebound came right back out to Ilsinho’s feet. He wisely played a quick ball back to Sapong for him to run onto and buried it into the back of the net.
FC Dallas thought they got one back in the 80th minute, but thanks to the brand new VAR technology the goal was called back due to a foul that was committed on McCarthy just moments before the goal was scored. Dallas did however spoil the Union’s hopes of a clean sheet with a goal late into stoppage time. Roland Lamah played a wonderful through ball to Michael Barrios who had just McCarthy to beat and calmly did just that.
Overall, it was a cohesive effort that resulted in the Union’s first league win against FC Dallas. And once again, they walked away with another win at home where they have been in great form. The result also helps their playoff hopes stay alive as they sit just three points back of sixth place with a game in hand. The Union will have the week to prepare for the battle versus Montreal Impact who will be coming into town. The match will be at 8:00PM EST inside Talen Energy Stadium, and the Union will look to continue leaving their supporters satisfied and gain another home victory.