As the referee blew his whistle, Haris Medunjanin raised his arms to the Union supporters section, bellowing for the fans to cheer louder. The crowd responded in kind, chants and drum beats rising as the midfielder waved his arms.
The Union's midfield is defined by its star: U.S. national team starter Alejandro Bedoya. But when Bedoya is gone, Medunjanin becomes the heartbeat of the Union attack. In Sunday's 3-0 win over the Revolution, he tugged on the captain's armband, yet the symbol of leadership wasn't important. All Medunjanin cared about was notching a win.
"I did not expect that I am going to be a captain," said Medunjanin, who had a hand in two of the Union's three goals. "For me it does not matter. We are a team. It is an honor to be a captain of this club and I am proud to be here."
In the 48th minute, he lofted a ball 40 yards down the field, where it landed at Fafa Picault's feet. Picault touched the ball inside the box to Ilsinho, who slammed home a one-touch goal to give the Union a much-needed brace.
The second assist came in the 77th minute, when Roland Alberg stepped onto the field and hollered for Medunjanin to pass. He served up the ball at the top of the box, and Alberg fired a shot straight into the shot to put away the game.
Both plays came from Medunjanin's awareness of the field, a constant focus on finding the right shooter and setting him up for success.
"He is an amazing player," Ilsinho said. "He sees everything in the game, sees everyone and can try to [make a pass] with a short ball, a long ball. He finds you. All the time he knows [where] everybody is and he does what is best for the team."
Before Sunday, Medunjanin had been a constant for the Union, playing every single minute of the 2017 regular season. He leads the team with seven assists, and his playmaking abilities in the midfield have buoyed a Union team that struggled midseason with creating offensive opportunities.
In the 86th minute, Medunjanin trotted off the field for his first bench minutes of the season. He was greeted by thunderous cheers, raising a hand to recognize the applause as he joined his team to watch the final minutes of the victory.