Match recap: Stoppage time tally from Kleberson secures points, win total for Union
It’s how to say “amazing goal” in Portuguese.
It’s also the only way to describe the free kick blast from Brazilian midfielder Kleberson that sent PPL Park into frenzy Saturday night.
With a minute remaining in a six-minute second half stoppage time period against Toronto FC, Kleberson, a late second half substitution stepped up to the take a direct kick at the edge of the box. Originally, forward Sebastien Le Toux stepped up to take it, but Kleberson stood pat over the ball.
With a casual swing of the boot, Kleberson hit a curling driven in-swinger past Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik and then proceeded to run the length of the field in hysteria.
Union 1, Toronto 0.
Three assured points for the Union, a stronger belief in what has become an all-out push for the postseason and a goal that also secured the club’s best win total in team history (12-10-9, 45 points).
Not a bad night for the Brazilian.
"I'm very happy. I feel like the Union fans needed this, I needed to show them that I could score a goal,” Kleberson said postgame. “I'm very happy that this moment came; I'm very, very happy. This goal is for the fans."
View: Full match statistics
On the flip side, Toronto (5-16-11, 26 points) entered PPL Park out to play the role of spoiler and inadvertently may have done so. Heading into a match next week against D.C. United (7 p.m., The Comcast Network), the Union will have to do so without the services of Sheanon Williams (yellow card accumulation) and Fabinho who was red carded in the 77th minute after referee Armando Villarreal surmised the Brazilian appeared to step on a TFC defender while battling for possession.
Union forward Antoine Hoppenot, who was also a second half substitute, terrorized Toronto’s back line but found it difficult to put one away. His first of six total shots at Bendik caromed off the post nearly putting the Union ahead in the 60th minute. But Hoppenot was the catalyst on the Union’s only goal of the night as he was the player taken down setting up Kleberson’s heroic finish.
“Coming in, I knew I needed to create chances,” said Hoppenot. “I did that part, I think, pretty well. Finishing the chances was a problem tonight. It's a great win though. Kleberson coming in and scoring that goal is incredible. You could tell how happy he was to finally be able to do that for the Philadelphia fans. He's been working really hard in practice, so we're all happy for him that he's able to come in and get a great goal for us – a really, really important goal for us.”
A monumental goal considering it kept the Union secured in the fifth and final spot for the playoffs with three matches remaining. The club also received help from rival New York, who scored in stoppage of its match to secure a playoff spot and keep New England scratching and clawing.
Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who posted four saves on the night, felt confident that his club can pull through on this postseason quest – especially if know, there is confidence that goals can come from the unlikeliest of places.
“I think we need to enjoy [the win], first off,” said Zac MacMath. “We've got a day or two to probably take our bodies, let our bodies relax. We need to enjoy the win. Obviously, it was a grueling match, physically and mentally. Once we come back to work, on whatever day it is, we know that this game's over, and we have three more left, and a big one against D.C. They are our biggest rival. All of our games against D.C. are always tough, physical battles. Especially going into RFK, we have to be prepared mentally and physically.”
What did you think of this match and Kleberson’s goal? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org