Cann's Corner: Union dominate in 4-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps

Philadelphia Union fittingly honored the club’s greatest ever goalscorer with a quartet of goals to down Vancouver Whitecaps 4-0 in front of 15,250 at Talen Energy Stadium Saturday evening. Vancouver fell apart following, though perhaps not because of, Sebastien Le Toux’s halftime induction into the Union Ring of Honor, finishing with nine men after both Jose Aja and Yordy Reyna were sent off in the second half.

Borek Dockal scored on either side of halftime, with Ilsinho and Fafa Picault adding penalties to finish off a game the Union dominated from start to finish. CJ Sapong returned to the lineup up top for Jim Curtin’s side, with Warren Creavalle continuing in midfield with Haris Medunjanin suspended.

First half

Picault had an active match, and he was on the end of the Union’s first chance in the ninth minute. After Warren Creavalle ran through two tackles, he released Borek Dockal in space on the right. The attacker’s hard low cross found Picault’s feet but the winger scuffed his shot and goalie Brian Rowe was able to collect.

In the 22nd minute, Auston Trusty slipped while challenging for the ball with Reyna in the center. Vancouver’s striker released the zippy Christian Techera up the right, and he looked to be in alone until Mark McKenzie turned on the jets and shut the play down with a glorious sprint across the pitch.

The Union immediately brought the ball back up the pitch and after Ilsinho and Dockal combined up the right, the latter sent in a low cross that Sapong deflected on frame, only to see it fall directly at Rowe once more.

But Philadelphia would not be denied. Picault’s crossfield ball was poorly cleared by left back Brek Shea, and when it fell to Dockal’s feet, he turned, created space by cutting left and fired a low dart into the far left corner of Rowe’s goal.

Alejandro Bedoya nearly doubled the lead in the 42nd minute when he lined a first time shot from the right side of the box on frame, but the Whitecaps blocked it away. The chance came from more good work by Dockal who, once more, popped free on the right and drove a cross into a crowded area that rolled out to Bedoya on the edge of the area.

Second half

Having been thoroughly crushed in the first forty-five, Carl Robinson made two substitutions during Le Toux’s ceremony. Jordon Mutch and Nicolas Mezquida entered for Alphonso Davies and Techera, with Mutch taking up a wing position on the right and Mezquida sliding into the center and pushing Reyna wide.

Though Vancouver finally created a chance, overall little changed.

That opportunity came in the 54th minute, with Reyna flying up the left and centering for Mezquida at the penalty spot, but Ray Gaddis put his body on the line to deflect the shot wide of frame.

Bedoya had another shot on frame in the 62nd minute after Dockal found Ilsinho at the top of the box. Stepover after stepover froze the defender, then the Brazilian laid the ball off for Bedoya and the captain’s blast was pushed over the goal by Rowe.

Dockal was on the scoresheet again in the 71th minute, with Bedoya the provider. Driving into the box on the right, Bedoya laid a square pass for Dockal. With the defense conservative, the Czech man turned away from pressure and laced a finish past Rowe to double the lead and his own tally.

Three minutes later, the Union had a third and the match was truly put to bed. This time it was Ilsinho popping up in space deep on the right. Cory Burke had just come on for Sapong and he rolled off Jose Aja’s shoulder into a channel as Ilsinho played a long pass through Vancouver’s lines. Burke was through alone when Aja grabbed him from behind. Though the big Jamaica still poked at the ball, referee Allen Chapman had no hesitation pointing to the spot and lifting a straight red card for the lanky defender.

Ilsinho took the penalty himself, crushing the ball past Rowe high and to the left.

The match devolved into an ugly affair, with both Reyna and substitute Anthony Blondell picking up cautions. Then, in the 95th minute, Picault finally got the goal his performance deserved. A willing runner all evening, Picault chased a ball deep into the left corner of Vancouver’s box. Reyna, clearly frustrated with his team’s dull showing, bowled over the Union winger and was promptly dismissed with a second yellow card. Burke initially stepped to the spot to take the penalty, but Picault claimed it and finished with aplomb. 4-0 was a fair outcome, and it could not have come on a more appropriate evening. Sebastien Le Toux’s name now hangs above section 117 in the Union Ring of Honor, and the Union will hope it can be a good luck charm going forward. Philly is in action again next Saturday at 8pm when they travel to face Los Angeles FC for the first time in club history.

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