CHESTER, Pa. — Ilsinho and the Union put on a show.
With a goal and two eye-popping assists, the skillful Brazilian led the inspired Union past a stunned FC Dallas club, 3-1, Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium.
“It’s amazing, it felt amazing,” said Ilsinho, who has four goals and three assists on the season. “It’s not about the goal or assists, it’s about a big win. We got a big win. We did a very good job. Everyone was on the same page and everybody did a great job.”
The lopsided victory was the first ever for the Union over FC Dallas, which falls to 9-5-7. The win also pushes the Union’s record to 8-10-5. It was just the club’s second win in their last six matches.
“It’s a great win for us, I don’t understand why we don’t play away like this,” said Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin, lamenting the Union’s poor road record.”We beat a top team in the West, so we can play against everybody. We still believe in the playoffs, so this game is important for us.”
The fireworks started early. Medunjanin, Ilsinho and C.J. Sapong brought the house down in the 17th minute with one of the nicer goals in Union history. Breaking down the middle, Medunjanin slid a short pass to covered Ilsinho, who then tapped a spinning back-heel pass back to streaking Medunjanin to complete the give-and-go. With space, the Bosnian found Sapong across the box for the easy goal.
“Not only is it just easier all around, but it’s fun as well,” Sapong said about connecting on the goal as a team. “The little kid comes out of you on the field. That’s always a beautiful thing to win that way. We just have to keep it up moving forward. It’s about being consistent and continuing to play at this level.”
Less than five minutes later, the Union received more brilliance from Ilsinho. Chris Pontius’ lofty throw-in was cleared by Ryan Hollingshead to just outside the top of the box. But the ball fell perfectly to Ilsinho for the one-timed rocket that beat Chris Seitz low and to the left post for the 2-0 Union advantage.
“[Union sporting director Earnie Stewart] and I have encouraged him to shoot more and more because he does hit such a heavy ball,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. “And he’s starting to do that. It was a really good performance from him, not just offensively but defensively. He dominated the game tonight.”
The heroics continued into the second half for Ilsinho and the Union. In the 68th minute, Sapong sprung Ilsinho on the right side of the box, where the Brazilian took a strong shot into the gut of Seitz, who bobbled the rebound. Ilsinho chipped the loose ball over to Sapong for the open-net goal.
It was Sapong’s 12th of the season and marked his second multi-goal effort of the year.
The match saw a taste of the future in the 79th minute when a goal by FC Dallas’ Max Urruti was waved off following a review from newly implemented VAR system, the league’s new video review process. On the initial shot, in alone on John McCarthy, Cristian Colman clipped the goalkeeper in the ribs, buckling him to the grass. The rebound sat waiting for Urruti.
Upon review, Colman was called for the foul, disallowing the goal.
“I don’t think you needed to use the video because everybody saw it," Medunjanin said. "It was a mistake from this guy, he put his leg in, he touched him and that’s why Johnny could not get the rebound."
It was the first usage of video review in MLS history and would prove important, as FC Dallas’ Michael Barrios would snap the Union’s shutout in stoppage time with his second of the season.
“We were lucky to be on the end of the first review ever in the league’s history and on the good side of it,” Curtin said. “I think it accomplished its goal, and now we move on to the next game."