The Union’s 5-0 rout of Toronto FC on Saturday was their first-ever win by that score in a league game, and just their third win with a five-goal margin. It was just the sixth time that the team has scored at least five goals in a game.
Sergio Santos' hat trick, just the fourth by any player in Union history, was rightly the biggest headline. But there were a lot of other huge performances. Here’s a look at some of the most important.
He did much more than just put two assists on platters for Santos. Wagner’s 75 touches were second-most on the team. He created three chances in total, won two aerial duels, and recorded one tackle, one interception, one block, and one shot. His 52-for-56 passing performance included 6 of 7 on long balls, and his seven crosses attempted were the second-most on the team. The only two crosses that were completed were the two Santos scored on.
The Union’s most popular players are, in some order, Brenden Aaronson, Andre Blake, Alejandro Bedoya, Mark McKenzie, and José Andrés Martínez. There’s a variety of reasons Monteiro isn’t in that top five: his position on the field, his not being a regular scorer, and his quiet personality, for starters.
But he remains crucial to the Union’s success and a terrific soccer player. Casual fans might not always see his influence, but in this game, you didn’t have to be an expert to get how good he is.
In addition to his artful goal, Monteiro delivered 10 chance-creating passes. That’s tied for the second-most in a game by any player in the league this season. Kansas City’s Johnny Russell also recorded 10 on July 26, and New England’s Carles Gil recorded 12 on July 9. No one else in MLS has had more than seven in a game this year.
But that’s not all Monteiro did. He recorded team highs of 54 completed passes, 63 attempts, and 88 touches; took four shots; and registered one tackle.
That one tackle earned him a yellow card and a suspension for card accumulation, which he will serve Wednesday when the Union host Chicago (7:30 p.m., PHL17). It will be Monteiro’s first night off of the year.
“It hurts, because he’s a special player who’s in special form right now," manager Jim Curtin said. "I think he’s raised his level the last five games in particular, and kind of carried us in a big way.”
The Union will undoubtedly miss Monteiro, but it’s a testament to how well they’ve been playing that Anthony Fontana should slot into midfield just fine. And it helps that the Fire aren’t very good: just 5-8-6, and in 11th place in the East. In fact, had Monteiro hit the suspension bar in that game, he’d have missed the biggest contest left in the regular season: A nationally televised trip to third-place Columbus (3:30 p.m. Sunday, 6ABC). So this might end up being a blessing in disguise.
The Sons of Ben unveiled a banner before kickoff saluting “The Six Million Dollar Man,” then settled in for Aaronson’s battle with Toronto’s $6 million man: Michael Bradley, the former U.S. national team captain and the second-highest-paid player in MLS.
Aaronson recorded 40 touches, one shot and one assist; won one aerial duel; and completed 22 of 25 passes. His highlight moments were the assist on Santos' hat trick goal and two occasions when he beat Bradley off the dribble: a double-stepover right in Bradley’s face in the 28th minute, and a sprint through a hole between Toronto players in the 58th.
His first game back from post-national-team-duty quarantine — and because of that, his first game action in 21 days — was one of his best with the Union. Martínez recorded 66 touches, two shots, six dribbles past opponents, three tackles, and one interception; won one aerial duel, and completed 40 of 43 passes, including all five of his long balls. His first-touch, cross-field pass to spring Kai Wagner toward setting up Santos' opening goal was especially pretty.
The Union’s overall dominance in this game helped cover up three awful misses by the team’s top striker: a header wide in the sixth minute, a mistimed run in the eighth, and a lost dribble eight yards out in the 60th. Przybylko has now gone eight games without scoring, and that’s a major concern.
He didn’t fully make up for that with the rest of his game, but he did a lot, and he deserves credit for that. In 68 minutes on the field, Przybylko took three shots, created five chances — including two assists — and completed 22 of 28 passes.
Here’s a look at the Union’s biggest ever margins of victory against MLS opponents. There was also a 5-0 home win over the Richmond Kickers in the U.S. Open Cup on June 5, 2018, but because the Kickers are a lower-division team it’s not counted here.