The Union went up to New England on Monday without half of their starting midfield, and their top striker scoreless in six games. In most years, those absences, plus Gillette Stadium’s rock-hard artificial turf, would be a recipe for a loss. And this game could easily have been one if not for goalkeeper Andre Blake’s late heroics.
But for all the through balls that sped away, and all the defensive lapses at the other end, the Union still got away with a 2-1 win. Here’s a look at a few key performances that helped seal the three points.
Pressed into service as a defensive midfielder, he had a huge game at the position he played in college. Elliott registered 70 touches, six tackles, three clearances, and one interception, won two aerial duels, created one chance, and completed 28-of-40 passes.
The passing numbers aren’t great but deserve this context: He was one of only three players who attempted 40 or more passes.
Elliott can go back to his regular job of centerback now, since Alejandro Bedoya will be back from suspension, and José Andrés Martínez will be out of quarantine. But did you notice that Matej Oravec wasn’t on the bench Wednesday night? Union manager Jim Curtin said it was his decision, for a traveling party of 20. That’s a bad sign.
In his first game back from a concussion, Glesnes showed why he had earned a starting job. He had 56 touches, won two aerial duels, made three clearances and one interception, and completed 40-of-47 passes, including 8-of-11 long balls.
This wasn’t anyone’s best game for the Union, including McKenzie. But it was a statistical marvel for the centerback. He had 68 touches, and delivered three blocks, three interceptions, one tackle, and a stunning 10 clearances. He also won one aerial duel, and was the team’s best passer, completing 42-of-49 attempts.
It was 548 days since his last Union game, and Burke finally returned to the field for the club as a 77th-minute substitute. He didn’t need long to show what was missed. Though Burke recorded just seven touches, he won three aerial duels, completed 3-of-7 passes, and committed two fouls.
Feel free to watch his goal as many times as you want. The craft and invention of Fontana’s audacious flick over New England goalkeeper Matt Turner only gets better each time it’s replayed.
It wasn’t Fontana’s only major contribution, by the way. He also delivered three tackles and completed 20-of-23 passes.