It was nearly two years ago to the day the last time the Union defeated Columbus Crew SC. June 5, 2013 to be exact. The final scoreline? 3-0.
Sometimes history has a funny way of repeating itself.
Wednesday night, the Union put together arguably their best performance of the year in a thorough, dominating 3-0 win over Crew SC. It’s the team’s third win in four games and – yes it is the first week of June and yes the Union have a leg-up in games played – it vaulted them above the playoff line.
“There’s now four strong showings in a row and I think something special is about to happen,” head coach Jim Curtin said. “Again it’s still only four games that we’ve put together so we need to keep it going. In a lot of ways it’s good to get a quick turnaround against NYCFC because we’re in a good way right now. It was great for our fans to come out here on a Wednesday night and cheer us on. I thought was loud, they pushed us, they were behind us from the opening whistle, and were kind of the 12th man out there for us.”
- View: Union-Crew SC Box Score
But it took a little time. After a sluggish first half-hour from both teams, the Union seemed to finally come alive after leading-scorer Fernando Aristeguieta was taken out following a rough tackle in the box. His replacement, C.J. Sapong, made the most of the opportunity, burying his third goal of the year off a nifty pass from Sebastien Le Toux.
“C.J.’s been excellent,” Curtin said. “He came in tonight and held up a ton of balls, even those little plays at the end there with him wasting time at the corner. He has a way of colliding with people and coming out with the ball at his foot.”
It was a one-goal lead at half, something the Union haven’t done a great job of protecting this year. But it was noticeably different Wednesday, with the club all but putting the game away with two goals in the first 15 minutes.
First it was Vincent Nogueira deftly capitalizing on an error from Crew SC goalkeeper Steve Clark in the 52nd minute. Clark appeared to try to roll a pass out to a teammate, but either stumbled or tried to pull it back. The ensuing free ball fell right to Nogueira, who one-touched it home for a two-goal lead.
Just six minutes later, a strong hold-up play by Sapong started the Union’s third tally. Sapong then laid off for an overlapping Sheanon Williams. Williams streaked through the box and calmly dished to Le Toux, who tapped it in.
“Yeah, it was a beautiful goal, it was a goal that shows that the things we’re doing in practice are working,” Sapong said. I think Sheanon had a great run and he did well to take his time, and Le Toux just being in the right spot, it just shows where, for [the media] , it looks amazing and it might be tough to do, but for us it’s beautiful because everyone is just doing their job and everyone is where they need to be. I think that’s something that could be indicative of how our season goes, because if you can be on the same page like that, I think we’ll have a lot of success.”
While the goals were nice, it was another solid all-around performance from the Union’s back line, posting their third clean sheet in four games. Brian Sylvestre only had to make two saves – including a beauty in the 22nd minute – and spoke highly of the group in front of him.
“We’re working on it every day and building chemistry is important,” the rookie keeper said. “We work on it every day. I’m confident in them and they’re confident in me.”
And there may not be a bigger unsung hero than Brian Carroll. The 33-year-old veteran has really had a calming influence on the group. Since returning back to full health, he’s started and played a full 90 in each of the last four games – three of which, as stated earlier were clean sheets.
But there won’t be any time to rest. The Union are back at PPL Park Saturday night to take on New York City FC at 7 p.m. With the win, though, the club moved to 4-8-3 and into 6th place in the Eastern Conference with 15 points. And with another home game against a struggling opponent looming, another three points is certainly up for grabs, even if it’s only a few days rest.
“We’re not in a situation where we can rotate, rest, and hold guys out,” Curtin said. “We needed three points at home tonight and it’s going be game by game. Obviously now we’ll focus on NYCFC which is still a dangerous team. Yes we’ll have played on a Wednesday but I think if we handle our recovery I think that we can bounce back quickly. Is there a change or two? Possibly but we’ll see how it goes.”
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Contact Union press officer Chris Winkler at firstname.lastname@example.org