This was a character type of victory in every way.
The Philadelphia Union showed resilience, poise and guts from start to finish in what wound up being a huge 1-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday night at BC Place. The Union became the first club to defeat Vancouver at BC Place in 11 tries this season.
Substitute extraordinaire Antoine Hoppenot provided all the scoring the Union would need in the 85th minute and the visiting club left with three coveted points.
Vancouver was playing with 10 men, but in the end, the three points counted just the same. Oh, and the Union managed to come up with the road win without striker Conor Casey, who missed the match because of yellow card accumulation.
The Union still found a way.
“Coming all the way out here to Vancouver, with the long flight and everything and coming away with three points is massive for this team and massive for the confidence for this team,” said Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who recorded his second straight clean sheet and seventh on the season. “We need to continue to do this for the next four games because obviously they’re all against Eastern Conference teams and a lot of points to be had.”
Forward Aaron Wheeler picked up the assist on Hoppenot’s goal and continued to prove his mettle with yet another strong performance. To accomplish this feat in a tough environment such as BC Place made the effort even more impressive.
“I completely forgot about that to be honest,” Wheeler said of Vancouver being unbeaten at home. “It’s a great result for the guys on the road. We’ve come all the way to the Northwest, so to get a result, it’s phenomenal. It just shows what kind of team we’ve got here, what sort of character we play. Don’t get me wrong, the red card helped eight minutes in, but that’s the way the game goes sometimes.”
The Union have earned some hard-fought wins on the road this season. But this one might have been the most rewarding.
It wasn’t always pretty, but it sure was effective.
“It was a really big win for us,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “We had some games earlier this month where we probable lost some points, let some goals in late. We knew we had to come in a place like Vancouver, and try to steal a couple points and that’s what we did today.”
For a while, it seemed as if the Union would leave with a second consecutive scoreless draw. Hoppenot kept working and scrapping and was able to come up with a clutch goal.
“The guys did a great job keeping them at bay the entire game and creating a lot of chances,” Hoppenot said. “Unfortunate not to get one in the first half or early in the second half, but the guys did a great job on defense keeping it to zero and that’s all you can really ask for.”
Philadelphia received a big lift from its substitutes, especially Hoppenot and Wheeler.
“Good players make coaches look good sometimes and he certainly did that,” Hackworth said of Hoppenot. “I thought Aaron Wheeler came on and did a great job, I thought Fabinho came on and did a great job. We’re a team that way. Every time we’ve brought a guy off the bench, they’ve contributed this year and so once again, that was the case today.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org