Union captain dominant on both sides of the ball in pivotal win over Columbus Crew

Call it highly ironic that Brian Carroll’s goal deflected off a Columbus player.

Carroll is one of the most unassuming and unselfish players in the entire league and those traits are a large reason why he was named captain of the Union.

The veteran midfielder scored his first goal in league action when he fired a shot that deflected off Crew defender Eric Gehrig and into the net for a 1-0 victory. That goal in the 25th minute started a flurry of three goals in six minutes and carried the Union to a resounding 3-0 victory in front of 16,113 adoring fans Wednesday night at PPL Park.

Following the match, Carroll deflected the attention off himself and pushed it toward the entire club.

Hey, that’s what leaders do.

Read: Recap: Union 3, Crew 0

“I think overall, our commitment to defense was probably our best,” said Carroll, who also scored a crucial goal in the Union’s 2-1 win over the Ocean City Nor’Easters in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. “Whether that’s personally my best game or not, I don’t really worry about it. I just worry about the team playing better and getting a result like we got tonight.

“[I’m] just happy to get us off on the right foot. Happy for our team to be the first one to score. Deflection or not, I’ll take it and won’t look back. I don’t look at it that way (personally). Just happy the team won.”

Can’t argue with that logic.

The Union arguably played its best game all season and their captain was leading the way in the midfield.

Goal or no goal, the Union wound up with a clean sheet and three huge points.

“If we’re going to be successful, it’s going to be a team effort and we took advantage of our opportunities tonight,” Carroll said. “A different person gets every single goal and we kept the pressure on them from the beginning. We get an early goal and psychologically, it’s a good thing.”

Manager John Hackworth could see this type of match coming from Carroll.

It has been evident for the last 30 days.

“For me, Brian Carroll has played really well,” Hackworth said. “In the last month, I think he has turned his game up and up and we’re now seeing some of the (results) when we get results and Brian is playing well, I think it’s great. He certainly deserves it.”

Carroll looked crisp from the opening whistle to the final one. He was in charge in the midfield and displayed all the characteristics of a captain.

“I felt comfortable and had trust in my guys that they’re going to do their job,” Carroll said. “It allowed me to do mine to the best of my ability so I’m happy for that and hopefully, I can keep it going. Absolutely, I think it’s a boost for me individually and it’s a boost for all of us. Get that goal in that point in time and it’s a confidence boost for everybody in the group.”

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com


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