Union Get Their Confidence Back in NE
It will be a happy trek home for Philadelphia Union.
Thanks to goals from Jack McInerney and Justin Mapp -- both of whom entered the game off the bench -- the Union were able to snap a maddening six-game winless streak (0-3-3) dating back to a 2-1 win over Toronto FC on July 17.
For a while, the dubious streak seemed like it might continue.
Despite playing up a man from the 42nd minute when Cory Gibbs was handed a red card following a hard tackle on Philadelphia’s Eduardo Coudet, the Union had trouble capitalizing.
McInerney finally broke though, however, equalizing in the 82nd minute when he received Mapp’s chip in the box and proceeded to send the ball past goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. McInerney showed some raw emotion as he took his shirt off and celebrated the goal.
McInerney, the No. 7 overall pick by the Union in the MLS SuperDraft, was given a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct. But for a club that has struggled in recent games, this was a young player reveling in a huge play.
In the 92nd minute, Mapp ripped a one-timer from the top of the box past Shuttleworth for a 2-1 advantage.
Union Team Manager Peter Nowak, Coach John Hackworth and the players all celebrated together when the final whistle sounded and the club had secured its second road win this season. It was a great scene, and evidence of the frustration that had been mounting prior to the late comeback.
“The goal felt good,” Mapp said. “I just wanted to get out there and help the team. We had a goal by Jack (McInerney) and it was a good fight for the guys all around. I think that we definitely deserved to win in the end.”
Mapp entered in the 65th minute and McInerney in the 77th minute.
Two goals. Three points. One enormous win.
And some momentum coming home for a friendly on Wednesday against Mexican power Chivas Guadalajara at PPL Park, followed by a league match Saturday against the Kansas City Wizards.
“We know we are in a tough position now, but we have nine games left and if we put a string of wins together then there is no reason why we can’t come back into the hunt,” Mapp said. “Each game is going to be very important and we definitely haven’t given up by any means. So we’ll take it from the next game and hopefully come away with three points.”
Nowak has remained confident the entire way. He believes in this club and the players feed off that.
Even after a tough 2-0 loss at D.C. United and then trailing 1-0 for much of the way at New England, the Union found a way to win.
That confidence starts at the top and trickles on down.
“I think the whole group did a very good job after our last game on Sunday to prepare themselves for the game,” Nowak said. “I think on a night like tonight, the boys become the men. It looks like we got our mojo back. The movement of the ball, the passing – especially in the second half – gives us the life back.”
Not to mention an enjoyable trip home.