The Union pulled off one of the most dramatic wins in team history Saturday night, coming back from 2-0 down at halftime to beat the New York Red Bulls, 3-2, before 18,767 fans at a sold-out Talen Energy Stadium.
Ilsinho was the hero, assisting on the first goal and scoring the second and third after coming in as a substitute early in the second half.
“The team, overall, continues to amaze me,” manager Jim Curtin said. “Our players have stepped up now, and they deserve the applause and the cheers.”
New York opened the scoring in the 29th minute when playmaker Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra finished off a sweeping move downfield with a late run that the Union didn’t track.
The Union (9-4-4, 31 points) were mostly the better team, but the Red Bulls -- among the best-trained in counter-attacking soccer in all of MLS -- absorbed the play without much trouble. And in the 42nd minute, Brian White doubled New York’s lead, beating two Union defenders to a long ball and chipping an onrushing Andre Blake from just inside the 18-yard box.
At halftime, the Union had 60.2% of the possession, completed 221 passes to the Red Bulls’ 122, outshot the Red Bulls (7-6-3, 24 points) by a 6-4 margin, and seemed to have no chance of getting a result out of the game.
Ilsinho entered in the 53rd, by which time it would have been 3-0 if not for a full-stretch diving save by Blake on Daniel Royer a few moments earlier. Seven minutes later, the substitute created a goal, darting down the right wing and cutting a low pass back that Jamiro Monteiro finished. And barely a minute later, Ilsinho did it all himself, cutting past Connor Lade and firing low to the far post.
The Union took the lead in the 72nd minute after Tim Parker, with an outstretched left arm, blocked a cross from Alejandro Bedoya in New York’s 18-yard box. After the video replay booth looked at the play to see if Bedoya was offside, Jamiro Monteiro stepped up to the spot. Luis Robles saved the shot, but Ilsinho pounced on the rebound and guided it into the net.
Fafa Picault entered in the 75th, surprisingly replacing Sergio Santos instead of the ineffective Kacper Przybylko. From there, it was all hands on deck to preserve the win, and they did.
For years, the Union were known for blowing leads on a regular basis. This season, they have delivered late turnarounds to win games three times. They enter the MLS Gold Cup break in first place in the Eastern Conference, and they have proved it’s deserved.