As the sun set over the Commodore Barry Bridge, a "Roland Alberg" chant broke out at Talen Energy Stadium. Subbed out, the Union midfielder walked off the pitch to a standing ovation in the 77th minute Wednesday night.
"The fans, the staff, my teammates - I don't know the word," Alberg said, "but they love me."
And for good reason.
Alberg continued his mid-June hot streak in the Union's 4-3 win over the Chicago Fire, overpowering defenders and scoring three goals along the way. The midfielder also made Union history with his third goal of the night, a hat trick in the 56th minute. It marked the second hat trick in Union history, as well as a personal milestone for Alberg.
"The feeling is incredible. I never scored a hat trick in my life," he said. "This is the first time for me. . . . I'm happy. I want to enjoy tonight."
Alberg's first goal came on a rebound in the 15th minute. Then during first-half stoppage time, Union forward Fabian Herbers' shot was saved by Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson, but Alberg was there in the center of the box. He hammered in a shot - which Johan Kappelhof knocked away - got his own rebound this time, and finally found the back of the net.
"He could have had four or five [goals], to be honest," coach Jim Curtin said.
Alberg scored two goals in the Union's 3-2 win over the Harrisburg City Islanders in last week's U.S. Open Cup game and added on another score in the team's 3-2 loss to New York City FC on Saturday.
"He is extremely technical. He keeps the ball well for us," defender Keegan Rosenberry said. "And tonight I think you saw him play defense for us. He came back and won a couple balls in our box. And that energizes us when players make those kind of plays."
After getting a red card on April 16, Alberg saw little playing time in April and May. But the 5-foot-11, 160-pounder has returned with gusto this week.
The 25-year-old native of the Netherlands signed with the Union in February, transferring from ADO Den Haag in Eredivisie, Holland's top division. He had played in the Netherlands since 2013.
"In the beginning, it was difficult, but the last couple weeks it has gone well," Alberg said. "I feel comfortable."
"I'm really happy for him," Curtin said. "He has put a lot of work in, for him to be rewarded, he did a great job tonight, getting goals for us, carrying us to be honest."