Just five minutes into the Union's match against Montreal, CJ Sapong had the ball at his feet. Just before crashing into the box and a defender on his back, he quickly made a pass to his left before being pulled down. His pass found the feet of Roland Alberg, who immediately cut back into the inside to avoid another Montreal defender. Going in one-on-one against Evan Bush, Alberg slipped a shot past Bush into the back of the net.
It was Alberg's first goal of the game, but he wasn't finished yet.
In the 39th minute, Jack Elliott was fouled inside the box, setting up a penalty kick for the Union. Alberg gave Bush a little stutter-step and ripped a shot. His shot bounced off the hands of Bush and into the back of the net for his second goal of the game.
Alberg's multi-goal game was just the second of his career, his first being a hat-trick against Chicago Fire in June of 2016. His two goals were his 10th and 11th of his career with the Union in just 33 games. His .33 career goals per game ratio is the best among players with at least 15 appearances for the Union. With his 11 goals, he's also seventh in Union history in goals scored for the club.
For the Union, his two goals could provide a spark for the offense. So far this season, the Union have scored eight goals. CJ Sapong leads the team with four goals, one of which he scored against Montreal Saturday. Alberg has two, and Jay Simpson and Richie Marquez each have one. Sapong had a three-goal game streak snapped against Portland on April 8, and is looking to create a second goal streak against LA Galaxy this upcoming Saturday.
Together, Alberg and Sapong create a 1-2 punch for the Union. Sapong is known for being able to fight through contact and be physical inside the box. He gets the gritty goals, scoring off rebounds and headers. Meanwhile, Alberg is a skilled striker, as evidenced by his six career penalty kick goals. With his two goals, Alberg can gain confidence and potentially continue to add to his total.
"Roland, in front of the net, is incredibly talented," said Head Coach Jim Curtin in his weekly press conference. "I think it's great for his confidence. We need more guys with confidence, as hard as that sounds. Roland gave us a spark, he makes plays for us. He's worked really hard on the fitness side of things. He's made strides, he was rewarded for that with the start, and he rewarded us with a couple of goals."
And as for Sapong, he's been a big player for the team early on and projects to finish the season with 20 goals. While that may be an unrealistic number, he still has a very good shot at surpassing his career high of nine goals.
The Union have preached positivity, passion and hard work to get the team out of its slump. Sapong has been that mentality personified out on the pitch, and if Alberg can provide that secondary scoring for the Union, they'll get it turned around real soon.