Philadelphia Union (9-6-7, 34 points) defeated Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 1-0 at BC Place on Saturday night behind an 85th minute goal from Antoine Hoppenot.
The victory marks the first time Vancouver has lost at home this year in MLS play.
“That was a really, really big win for us against a very good team,” said Union manager John Hackworth. “They were really good even when they went down a man. For us to hang in there for a little while and pull one out is great.”
Hoppenot provided the game winner, but the game took a change early when Vancouver went down a man in the eighth minute, as Juan Marques Davidson was sent off for a head butt on Keon Daniel. Daniel went in for a challenge on the Vancouver midfielder, but after being whistled for a foul, Davidson slammed his head into the back of Daniel and was shown a straight red.
Despite the man advantage, both teams went scoreless into the break for halftime.
“I was impressed with Vancouver; they didn’t change their formation, they kept attacking and they put a lot of energy in that,” Hackworth said. “So we knew that if we were patient and possessed the ball and created some opportunities, we were hoping one would eventually come and it did.”
Vancouver subbed in rookie forward Kekuta Manneh in favor of Kenny Miller early in the second half, with the change almost paying immediate dividends for the home side. Manneh raced in behind the Union defense and fired a shot just past and outstretched MacMath, but his effort clanged the post and bounced back into the Union goalkeeper’s hands. MacMath made several big saves in the second half, finishing the night with five total.
With still scoreless later in the second half, Hackworth subbed in Hoppenot, Aaron Wheeler and Fabinho, with those decisions proving to be a key part in the victory. Wheeler eventually provided the game-winning assist to Hoppenot, who buried a ball past Knighton to give the team all three points on the road.
“Good players make coaches look good sometimes, and [Hoppenot] certainly did that,” Hackworth said. “I thought Aaron Wheeler came on and did a great job and I thought Fabinho came on and did a great job. We’re a team that way; every time we bring a guy off the bench, they have contributed this year. Once again, that was the case today.”
Wheeler and Hoppenot combined for a great play on the edge of Vancouver’s box, as Wheeler flicked back a pass to an oncoming Hoppenot, who took one touch and then fired a left-footed shot into the net to score his third of the season.
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“Wheeler played me a good ball and I was through,” Hoppenot said of the goal. “The ball was bouncing, and all I had to do was put it into the back of the net. Most of the work was done by Wheeler, so you’ve got to thank him for that goal.”
The Union were able to drain the clock for the remainder of the game with sustain bits of possession and walk away with three points on the road.
“For us to be able to get wins against the top teams in MLS, it gives us the confidence to know that we can later on in the year,” Hoppenot said.
The Union look ahead to the a home match at PPL Park against an Eastern Conference foe in Chicago Fire next Saturday (8 p.m., CSN) but first, prepare for an international friendly against English side Stoke City FC on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at PPL Park.