In three of the last four games the Union have played, a defender has scored the equalizing or game-winning goal. Pretty impressive stuff considering the Union also boasts terrific offensive scorers like C.J. Sapong, Chris Pontius, and Tranquillo Barnetta. But in the last couple weeks we've witnessed three defenders record their first MLS goals. There was Keegan Rosenberry’s equalizer against LA Galaxy, Richie Marquez’s late-game heroics that earned three points against D.C., and on Wednesday night in Orlando it was Ken Tribbett’s turn.
After entering the match as a substitute for an injured Josh Yaro, Tribbett quickly found his footing. That’s not entirely surprising considering he was a key figure in the Union's starting lineup for the first five games of the season before he was sidelined with an ankle injury. But, for the first time in more than a month, Tribbett saw First Team game action and certainty made the most of it.
Late in the second half, the Union were trailing 2-1 to Orlando City SC after two controversial goals by Kevin Molino and Cyle Larin. In the 73rd minute, Barnetta played a low cross through the front of the net where Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik got a piece of it, but wasn't able to secure it -- giving Tribbett the opportunity to send the deflection in the back of the net to tie the game at two goals apiece.
Tribbett's first MLS goal was in the books and it helped secure his team a point on the road in a hostile environment - something he credits to good timing.
"I was at the right place at the right time. It’s one of those classic goals where the ball just followed my foot and I was able to put it in," Tribbett said after the match. “It’s great to get back out there with the boys. It’s what you want to do as a professional, to be able to step in in a moment of need for the team and play pretty well and I was excited to do it.”
More excitement is on the way for Tribbett as he and the Union head out west to take on first-place Colorado Rapids, which also happens to be his hometown team. A Colorado native, Tribbett is expecting at least 30 people in the crowd on Saturday night to watch him play for Philadelphia.
“I’m ecstatic. It’s one of the places I’ve been looking forward to the most to go play and now I think we’re headed there on a high and it’s going to be a fun trip.”
The Union hope to use the momentum of their six-game unbeaten streak when they arrive at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night and leave with a result against the top team in the league. A tough task given the short turnaround and high altitude adjustment, but with the way this Union team has been playing,- the battle between the two No. 1’s should be very eventful.