There have been some good moments for Keon Daniel in his two seasons with the Philadelphia Union.
This might have been the best, most complete effort in 38 career games.
Correction, it was the best.
“I do,” manager John Hackworth said of Daniel's effort being the best of his career following the Union’s 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution Saturday night at PPL Park. “I think he played both sides of the ball with class. He was really good in position going forward. He got forward a lot. He joined the attack. His service, especially on set pieces, was excellent. He did a lot of work to get back and his intensity was right. I think that’s been something Keon has struggled with, the intensity of our league.”
Daniel did anything but struggle against New England. In fact, he was arguably the best player on the field.
Daniel was crisp with his passing and sharp with his crosses. It was Daniel’s cross off a free kick which Jack McInerney headed home in the 73rd minute that made the ultimate difference in compiling three points against the Revolution.
When it was over, Daniel’s play had his manager smiling.
“Keon is a fantastic player,” Hackworth said. “He’s always been a fantastic player. But Keon, I think has shown in the last two games, is everyone in the locker room, everybody on that coaching staff, feels that way. Two consecutive games, he’s contributed in every possible way. He’s a class soccer player. I’ve watched him in the CONCACAF qualifying for Trinidad and he was easily the best player on the field in so many games I’ve watched. I’m happy for him that he’s doing it for us as well.”
Last season, Daniel played 18 games and started nine with one goal. Daniel left the United States after a match in late August to join up with the Trinidad & Tobago national team, and wasn’t allowed back into the country because of visa issues.
Daniel returned this season and has scored once in 20 games. In recent games, he has become more confident in the midfield.
Check that, he’s been more confident in all aspects of his game – and his life.
“I’m just happier on the field and in my life personally,” Daniel told philadelphiaunion.com. “I’m becoming more and more confident on the pitch and the coaching staff has shown a lot of trust in me. I think my game has come along slowly and now, I’m feeling as good as I ever have. I’m happier than I ever have been and my family support has been great.”
Daniel referenced his two-year-old daughter who especially has given him a boost.
“It was tough when she was really young because I missed my family so much,” said Daniel, who has 51 caps and nine goals for Trinidad and Tobago. “She’s two now and I hope to have my family here soon. That would mean a lot. Over the past couple of years, I think I have grown as a person and as a player. But now, I’m trying to do it on a consistent basis. I feel great physically and mentally and I’m playing with a great deal more of confidence.”
So are the Union, who have suddenly won three of their last four matches. And Daniel has played a large role in the resurgence.
“We’re getting better every game,” Daniel said. “I’m trying to stay within my role on the club and contribute what I know I can. My confidence is very high and I’m going to finish the season like that. I think we have a lot of potential and we are starting to come together.”