The Union kept hold of first place in MLS’ Eastern Conference with a dramatic and gutsy 2-1 win at Toronto FC on Saturday.
Here are some observations:
If you were waiting for the Union to beat a good team after a string of wins over bad teams, you have the proof. This team is legitimately good. They gave as good as they got against one of the Eastern Conference’s most talented clubs, to the point that Toronto star playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo lashed out at Auston Trusty for picking up a loose ball in second-half stoppage time.
Jamiro Monteiro was one of the day’s heroes. He made headlines for his game-winning goal, but he did much more than that - including 3 tackles, 2 interceptions and completing 34 of 41 passes.
The Union now come home for three straight games. First up is a Seattle Sounders team that passes the test of attracting casual soccer fans. Jordan Morris is back to his old scoring form, and you’ll likely see him and Cristian Roldan in Philadelphia again next month when the U.S. men’s national team visits for the Gold Cup.
At some point, perhaps in one of the many road games left this year, the Union will lose when they shouldn’t. That happens to every team in MLS at some point. It should not distract from the evidence that -- as has been said here before -- this team is worth local soccer fans’ attention.
It wasn’t surprising that Marco Fabián struggled in his first appearance after missing four games with a sprained ankle. He did not take any shots in 58 minutes on the field, and completed 25 of 33 passes.
But while Fabián’s lack of attacking output is notable, his positive contributions on defense shouldn’t be overlooked. He pitched in three tackles and an interception.
Despite having played just 392 minutes this year, Fabián remains the Union’s leader in shots per game (4.2) and ranks second in chances created per game (1.2).
Jack Elliott has played some big games for the Union in his three years as a pro, and this one was among his biggest. His positioning and effort were excellent from start to finish. Elliott recorded 56 touches, six clearances and a big block in second-half stoppage time; won one aerial dual; completed 33 of 46 passes; and was whistled for just one foul.
How about this for a stat line from Kai Wagner: 60 touches, 1 aerial dual won, 1 chance created, 7 clearances, 5 tackles, 2 interceptions and 26 of 34 passes completed. Wagner would have had an assist, too, had Fafa Picault finished that first-half cross instead of Chris Mavinga scoring an own goal.
In four appearances for the Union so far, Carlos Miguel Coronel has proven that he is a plenty suitable backup goalkeeper to Andre Blake. But there is one aspect of Coronel’s game that has raised some eyebrows: a tendency to come off his line a lot.
That gambling instinct paid off big when Coronel made a huge kick save on Jozy Altidore in the 80th minute. Just seconds earlier, Coronel collided with Auston Trusty while coming to the top of the 18-yard box to collect a high cross. But Coronel recovered and hustled into position to deny Altidore.
Coronel got burned coming off his line in a game with Bethlehem Steel last month, and has come close to being burned a few times with the Union. As well as he has played overall, this is worth keeping an eye on.