Chester, PA ––
Union hinder red-hot Houston Dynamo, find themselves go from cellar dweller, to mover and shaker in Major League Soccer.
Philadelphia Union’s ascent up the Eastern Conference and Major League Soccer table continued Wednesday night, when they welcomed early Supporters’ Shield challenger, Houston Dynamo (6W 4L 1D), to Talen Energy Stadium.
After a dismal start to the season, which saw Jim Curtin’s side accrue just 4 points through their first 8 matches, Union (3W 4L 4D) have started to turn things around. They are surging as of late –– unbeaten in five –– showing no visible signs of slowing down after doing-away with visiting Dynamo 2-0.
Union’s quick turnaround in form can be credited to the recent lineup tinkering by Curtin, coupled with several, staunch defensive performances by a veteran laden backline.
Curtin elected to stick with the same XI who thrashed D.C. United 4-0 away from home last weekend. He proved that he is, in fact, a believer in the mantra, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Dynamo also entered the match in fine form –– second in points and points per game in the league –– yet, they remained winless on the road through their first ten matches.
Looking to end their road woes in Chester and keep pace atop the Western Conference, Dynamo went toe-to-toe with Union from the start, but ultimately were hard done by a poor first half and failure to capitalize on their several, meaningful scoring chances.
Union keeper, Andre Blake, had a relatively comfortable night between the sticks. Blake faced 11 shots –– only 4 of which were on target –– that hardly troubled the Jamaican international.
Union, on the other hand, were more efficient on the night.
Although they had less of the ball and logged less shots than Dynamo, Union were able to make the most of the scoring opportunities presented to them. They ultimately put away two of their four chances on the night, which was enough to see off the visitors.
Fabrice-Jean Picault was on the receiving end of a Chris Pontius delivery early in the contest (Watch).
Picault went bar down with a header in the 17th minute for his second goal in the campaign, and the first “DOOP in the Ole Onion Bag,” as Union color commentator, Tommy Smyth, would say.
Union did not waver after their impressive start to the match.
Ilsinho doubled Union’s lead in the 38th minute, after the Brazilian calmly slotted home a ball from well inside Dynamo’s own eighteen (Watch).
By the final whistle, Union were out-dueled, out-possessed and out-shot, but they were the ones on top. Dedicated defending and smart substitutions bolstered Union’s clamp on the game, despite the numbers in the boxscore.
An impressive result sees Union extend their unbeaten run to five matches. Curtin’s recently rejuvenated side has now gone more than 300 minutes –– 363 to be exact –– without conceding a goal.
Union are home again Saturday, when they welcome Colorado Rapids to Talen Energy Stadium.