Jim Curtin and the Philadelphia Union traveled to Houston Wednesday night and left with an important 3-1 victory at BBVA Compass Stadium. After conceding a goal during the first ten minutes, three unanswered goals from Alejandro Bedoya, Cory Burke, and Fafa Picault – along with two assists from Borek Dockal – granted Philadelphia the victory against a 10-man Dynamo squad.
The starting XI for Philadelphia returned to a somewhat normal state Wednesday night. David Accam started in place of Marcus Epps. Cory Burke earned the start over C.J. Sapong and Keegan Rosenberry returned to the right back spot.
The temperature at kick-off registered over 90 degrees, and like earlier this season the heat played a factor later in the match.
Philadelphia started out on the wrong end of things. Houston quickly asserted themselves offensively within the first 10 minutes of play. After a couple of chances, Houston fired home the first goal of the match. Following early misplays which ended up as turnovers, both Union center backs were torched by some slick give and go action between Boniek Garcia and Mauro Manotas.
Manotas slipped a short pass to Garcia who then returned the favor for Manotas who blew by Mark McKenzie and neatly in behind Auston Trusty. Manotas displayed no signs of trouble on the finish for the 10th minute goal.
However, following a few more Dynamo chances, Philadelphia responded.
In somewhat surprising fashion, the Union navigated well into Houston’s final third during the 33rd minute. Alejandro Bedoya equalized with a cheeky chipped shot over the outstretched Houston keeper Joe Willis.
Haris Medunjanin found Borek Dockal at the top of the goal box. Dockal was granted far too much space as he took a touch toward goal. Cory Burke sprinted forward to attract defenders while Bedoya slipped forward as well. Dockal cleverly tapped a pass forward for Bedoya who did well to remain onside before scoring.
The final 45 minutes of play began with a bang. Philadelphia began slow and Houston’s creative midfielder, Tomas Martinez, felt the need to take advantage. In the 47th minute, Martinez rifled off a left-footed shot that curled past Andre Blake but nailed the crossbar.
Just over 10 minutes later, the tides turned in Philadelphia’s favor.
Martinez, who proved difficult to defend up until this point, stomped down on Trusty’s foot after whiffing on a shot attempt. VAR was used and Martinez received a straight red card for what was deemed ‘violent conduct.’ After watching the replay Martinez definitely stepped down on top of Trusty’s foot, but perhaps the violent nature of it all was a bit lacking.
Nonetheless, Philadelphia gained the almighty one-man advantage and never looked back.
The ensuing goal kick to resume play provided Philadelphia fans with a delightful segment of play. Between the 60th and 62nd minute after Martinez’s red card, Philadelphia completed 37 consecutive passes before a floated ball into the box from Medunjanin toward Picault was grabbed by Willis.
Fast forward another 10 minutes and the Union knocked home their second goal. During the 70th minute, Medunjanin found Dockal in a dangerous spot atop the box again. Dockal turned quickly, took a touch to his right, then slotted a perfect pass in behind for Burke. Burke stutter-stepped to avoid the offsides call and then ran onto the pass before sliding it calmly past Willis for the goal.
The goal was Burke’s fifth of the season. Dockal picked up his second assist of the night on Burke’s goal – his ninth assist of the season.
Right after Burke scored the game-winning goal, he was replaced by midfielder Fabian Herbers. Herbers finally made his return to first team play for the first time since the team’s third game of the year in late March.
Herbers made immediate impacts throughout his 20 minutes of play too.
After eight minutes of stoppage time was added to the match – thanks to an injury to Herbers – Philadelphia tallied a third goal.
During the 95th minute of play, Herbers collected the ball just beyond the midfield mark. With seemingly acres of green space in front of him and time to kill, Herbers strode confidently forward. He then blew past a poor challenge from Adolfo Machado and gained entry into the box. With pace, Herbers gained a step on the rapidly approaching Alejandro Fuenmayor. Fuenmayor plowed through Herbers with little intention of playing the ball and was whistled for the foul which granted Philadelphia a penalty kick. Picault converted the PK chance with authority.
Philadelphia left Houston all smiles after a huge road win. The win could mark a significant turning point for a team routinely on the cusp of the playoff line.
– Borek Dockal – The Czech playmaker performed to near perfection Wednesday night for Philadelphia. Dockal continually navigated to dangerous areas of the pitch on offense while remaining a consistent helper on defense as well. He collected his eighth and ninth assists during the 3-1 win. Dockal remains poised to become one of the most effective Union players to ever rock the colors.
– Cory Burke – After a frustrating first half for Burke, the Jamaican forward saw a bit more of the ball in the second half. Burke provided a pivotal dummy run to create space for Philadelphia’s first goal. Then, he tallied one for himself in the 70th minute. Burke tip-toed to stay onside before releasing for the goal. A night of wanting more for Burke turned highly fruitful.
– Defense – Philadelphia’s defense continues to be unpredictable. At times, their center backs can look just as confused as the outside backs. But still at other moments, both teenagers along the back line have made solid stops repeatedly. During Houston’s first goal, Trusty and McKenzie ended up looking like traffic cones. But it’s worth noting, they received some shoddy defensive help from Medunjanin at times.
PHILADELPHIA UNION STARTING XI:
Andre Blake, Ray Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie, Keegan Rosenberry, Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin, Borek Dockal (88’ Warren Creavalle), Fafa Picault, Cory Burke (71’ Fabian Herbers), David Accam (57’ C.J. Sapong)
Substitutes: John McCarthy, Jack Elliot, Fabinho, Marcus Epps
HOUSTON DYNAMO STARTING XI:
Joe Willis, Adolfo Machado, Jared Watts (74’ Andrew Wenger), Alejandro Fuenmayor, Adam Lundkvist, Boniek Garcia, Tomas Martinez, Darwin Ceren, Alberth Elis (81’ Memo Rodriguez), Mauro Manotas, Romell Quioto (81’ Arturo Alvarez)
Substitutes: Chris Seitz, Eric Alexander, Luis Gil, Leonardo
GOALS / ASSISTS
10’ HOU – Mauro Manotas (Boniek Garcia)
33’ PHI – Alejandro Bedoya (Borek Dockal)
70’ PHI – Cory Burke (Borek Dockal)
90+6’ PHI – Fafa Picault (PK)
YELLOW / RED CARDS
45+1’ PHI – YELLOW – Keegan Rosenberry (Unsporting Behavior)
53’ PHI – YELLOW – Mark McKenzie (Unsporting Behavior)
59’ HOU – RED – Tomas Martinez (Violent Conduct)
65’ PHI – YELLOW – C.J. Sapong (Unsporting Behavior)
90+2’ HOU – YELLOW – Darwin Ceren (Unsporting Behavior)
90+5’ HOU – YELLOW – Alejandro Fuenmayor (Unsporting Behavior)
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Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports