A three goal night led to a 3-1 win for the Philadelphia Union in a return to Major League Soccer action Saturday night on the road against the New England Revolution.
A pair of goals from Sebastien Le Toux and a blistering rocket at the edge of the box from Danny Cruz secured the Union its second road win of the season and improved the club to 4-7-6 (18 points) in MLS play.
The Union received solid play from goalkeeper Zac MacMath as well, who accounted for six saves on the night. However most importantly it gave interim manager Jim Curtin his first win in MLS and a pristine 3-0 record in all competitions since taking the reins two weeks prior.
“I thought our team played good defensively from front to back,” Curtin said postgame. “Our forwards defended well, our center backs did a good job, in fact our entire back line played great. I was happy with the performance.”
With key players like midfielder Vincent Nogueira (groin) and defender Austin Berry (rib) unavailable for action, Curtin tinkered with a lineup that found Amobi Okugo and Michael Lahoud together for the first time in the midfield, with designated player Maurice Edu holding down Okugo’s former spot in central defense. The pairing worked will with Lahoud tasked as a distributor and Okugo pushing forward in a four headed attack that primarily featured Cristian Maidana having the freedom to roam, Cruz causing havoc down the right flank and Le Toux cutting in from the left side to support forward Conor Casey who’s efforts as a hold-up player kept New England (7-6-2, 23 points) on its toes.
“The coaches stressed that New England likes an open game, they like to run,” Okugo told reporters postgame. “We were focused on keeping a compact line and being a compact unit, capitalize going on the break when we could and I thought we did a good job of doing that.”
Scoring has come in bunches after starting off the season desperate for goals to happen. The Union now have 21 goals in its last nine matches in all competition, with Le Toux leading the way with five alone in MLS play and his second two-goal performance in as many games. Four days prior it was his two-goal effort that secured quarterfinal play in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup following a 2-1 extra time win over the New York Cosmos.
“I am doing a good job at reading the plays and right now, I just feel really confident,” said an elated Le Toux postgame. “It feels great. Knowing that I was injured for a long time before, I had these back spasms for probably a month and was trying to play with it. But the fact now that I am 100 percent and playing well, I just want to keep it going so I can help this team get back to the top of the standings.”
The Union returns home to prepare for another road test against Western Conference foe FC Dallas on Independence Day (9 p.m., The Comcast Network) before a return to PPL Park to face another Western foe in Colorado on what is slated as “Fireworks Night,” with the match presented by Toyota.
“This has nothing to do with the coach, this has everything to do with the players and I have good players,” said Curtin. “The first half of the season we had good players that had a poor first half, but this is the second half of the season and it’s a fresh start for them…I am really proud of the effort tonight, we played very well, now it’s on us to keep it going and have more nights like tonight.”
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Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at email@example.com