Union win second game in a row, shut out Red Bulls in 2-0 win

Throughout much of this trying season, Union head coach Jim Curtin has often preached about ‘the next man up.’ On Sunday night, in a hostile environment where the club had never won before, Curtin was without five starters from his opening day lineup just less than three months ago.

And thanks to quite of a few those reserves, the Union took all three points back with them down I-95 after picking up their first win at Red Bull Arena.

“It's a big accomplishment,” Curtin said. “It's been six times we've come here and haven't won. It's a tough place to play against a very good, well-coached team, a top team in the East, a team that high presses all over the field. I thought we did a good job of getting through that first fifteen minutes and then I thought we got it together in the second half and were able to get the goals.”

After a scoreless first half, the Union quickly went to work in the second before finally capitalizing. Vincent Nogueira broke the scoreless tie by backheeling an attempted shot from Cristian Maidana in the 57th minute past Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles. Those two in particular have been a vital crutch for the Union this season, as they moved to 2-0-3 when each player goes at least 30 minutes in the game.

Five minutes later, the Union added another when C.J. Sapong buried a pass from Fabinho to go up 2-0. The play was set up by the 30-year-old Brazilian full back, who intercepted a pass in the midfield and streaked up field before playing a combination with Maidana. Once inside the 18, Fabinho sent in a perfectly placed grounded cross that Sapong put home.

For Fabinho, it was his second assist in as many games while filling in for the injured Ray Gaddis. The oft-criticized fullback was arguably the best player on the field Sunday night.

“That's Fabinho's best game in a Union uniform,” Curtin said. “I thought he was excellent on the night, not only getting forward and getting the goal for us, but also getting on the back post, he had a couple clearances there, that we're very big. He had a couple with his right foot and he's not really a big right-footed guy. He won his battles in the air and really competed.”

The Union were able to kill off the game thanks in particular to Brian Carroll and center backs Richie Marquez and Ethan White. Marquez, in just his second career MLS start, organized the back line, had a game-high nine clearances and won 70 percent of his duels. Carroll, on the opposite end in his 305th career MLS start, had six clearances and five interceptions, and seemingly cleaned up the danger every time it arose.

And they got a little help from rookie goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre, who was making just his third MLS start, and came up big with three saves for his second career win and clean sheet. His best save of the night came in the 74th minute when he denied reigning Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips at the door with a kick save.

“One of their players struck the ball first,” Sylvestre said of the play. “I went down and stopped it and then Wright-Phillips toe-poked it and I stuck my foot out to make the safe and my foot got there, thank god for that."

In the end, it was the Union’s second straight win with a limited selection pool. After one win in their first 11, it’s back-to-back wins that have vaulted the Union back into the thick of a jumbled Eastern Conference.

“It's a group that's been through a lot of adversity with guys that have been in and out of the lineup with injuries, call-ups and off the field stuff, and we've stuck together and now find ourselves in a good spot,” Curtin said. “But it's only two wins. We have to put together a run of five or six games and that's the sign of a good team.”

Now they’ll turn their attention to D.C. United, who the Union beat at PPL Park last week 1-0. The table leaders in the East will certainly be looking for revenge, but Curtin can expect a few more players available for selection.

Maurice Edu has been our best player all year so to win without him was huge for the group,” Curtin said. “He's been our captain so to get him back will be huge, Fernando [Aristeguieta] comes back, [Ray] Gaddis comes back soon. He's really done a great job taking his rehab seriously, he's about two-and-a-half weeks ahead of schedule, so I think he's likely for D.C. It's still early, but we can feel good about this for a night, and then we have to start thinking about playing the best team in the league at their place, upset because we beat them last time, so it doesn’t get easier.”

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