Grit helped the Union set franchise record as they beat Rapids


The Union won their fourth straight match setting a franchise record. They beat the Rapids 2-1 last Saturday. This result was different from the last three. The Union conceded for the first time on this four game streak, and found themselves behind in the first 20 minutes. The Union used grit to get back into the match, and eventually fins the winner. Of all the games on this record-setting win streak, this one shows how the Union are ready to compete in the eastern conference this season.

15 minutes into the match the Union were stunned by Caleb Calvert. His uncontested run and beautiful shot put the Rapids up 1-0. For the entire first half the Union looked like the team that were winless. Their play was broken up, and players were playing as Haris Medunjanin put it post game “arrogant.” There were a lot of runs on the ball with passes that found no one. Players up front were moving out of position, causing the d-mids and back line to scramble when the Union lost possession. The disconnect doomed the Union in the first eight games. For this match, the Union looked to clean up the mess they created.

The Union put some good attacks forward in the first half when playing as a team. The best being the above shot from Ilsinho. This tweet comes to backfire on Colorado later.  The whole game spun for the Union when they had to make a first half sub. Fabian Herbers went down with a groin injury in the 27th minute. This squandered his chance to make a mark with the starters. Chris Pontius came from the bench and helped bridge the gap for the Union. Pontius, who was on the bench to have some rest after putting in a lot of minutes over the last few games, did well to spread the field. The Union went into the half down one; they came out for the second half determined to turn it around, Colorado wouldn’t make it easy.

Colorado parked the bus and let the Union control the match in the second half. The Union did well to not get disjointed like they did in the first half. Pontius did a superb job down the right flank. He and Ilsinho had some great combination play; he also had some tremendous crosses. Unfortunately, not much came the substitutes work until another sub came on. Jay Simpson came on for Fafa Picault in the 62nd minute. His feistiness helped the Union get into dangerous situations.

In the 66th minute Simpson spun defender Kortne Ford. Ford dove to try to stop an inevitable attempt from Simpson. His dive was towards the ball; the ball rose and struck the defenders arm. The Union were awarded a penalty. Sapong stepped up, and buried it past Tim Howard. The Union  were level, and three minutes later would have a great advantage.

Caleb Calvert thought he was fouled in the 67th minute. He went down hard after what looked like a clean challenge. The ref called for the medical team to come. Calvert was assisted to the sideline while mouthing off to the ref. He was awarded a yellow for his choice words towards the referee, then stood off to the side. He looked to come back on right after he went to the side. The Union played the ball and started their possession, when all of a sudden, the referee blew his whistle and ran down the field showing a second yellow to Calvert. He got two yellows in the span of 30 seconds!

The Union were up a man with twenty minutes left in the match. A red card was also shown to Rapids assistant coach Connor Casey. The former Union man who has now see now red cards in two returns to Talen Energy Stadium (one as a player and one as a coach).

The Union made short work of  their one man advantage. Look there’s that tweet again from Colorado and a Union response.

The response came from a free kick. The Union made good work of possession, as Bedoya was fouled in a dangerous position. Haris Medunjanin and Ilsinho stood over the ball. Ilsinho ran over the ball, and Haris hit the ball, with pace over the wall, and into the back of the net. The curler went right inside of the post. The Union’s eventual game winner came from the foot of the Union’s talented Bosnian. He had some thoughts on his goal, and the team performance.

Haris first addressed the team’s play when asked about his game winner. He said that the first half wasn’t them; that arrogance had no place on this team. The teams drive and grit to work it out at halftime was key to the comeback from Medunjanin’s point of view. On his goal, he was confident in his ability and knew it was going to go in. His skill from set pieces has been brilliant this year, and will continue to play a factor as the season moves on.

CJ Sapong addressed the media after the match as well. He praised the teams ability to stick together through a tough match. CJ continues his great start to 2017. He now has more goals than he did last year with eight goals. Sapong is fourth in the league in the goals scored category. However, Sapong is the highest scoring American player in 2017. The season is a third of the way done, which make his accomplishments more impressive.

Jim Curtin praised his guys for coming back after a very bad half of soccer. The fight that the team made was a “special one” to Curtin. He praised Giliano Wijnaldum, who made his Union debut in the win. His addition gave Fabinho rest, and showed the coaches and the fans that he is a viable option at the left back position. Curtin went on to praise Medunjanin’s goal, and the grittiness to get these types of wins.

The Union are winners of four straight and go on the road to struggling Real Salt Lake this weekend. They put their win streak on the line, while they are playing some of their most entertaining soccer. The team found belief again, and so have the fans. The Union are one point behind the Red Bulls for the last spot above the red line. Philly has a game in hand on the Red Bulls as well. Can the Union keep their momentum going? Be sure to come back for a preview of the Union’s match at RSL, and a review of the past week of MLS action in the next few days. Until then peace out Union fans!


Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports