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Union frustrated as they head into playoff stretch

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Union frustrated as they head into playoff stretch

CHESTER, Pa. -- With the playoff race tightening, the Union desperately needed three points Saturday against the Montreal Impact. They came away with one and the feeling of defeat after drawing the Impact, 1-1 (see game story).

“We wanted three points here,” Union forward Fabian Herbers said. “It was a clear goal of ours and unfortunately we didn’t get it. It’s a little frustrating.”

What made Saturday so frustrating is the Union’s standing in the Eastern Conference and upcoming schedule. The club, holding the fourth spot in the East at 11-10-8, three points ahead of the Impact, won’t play another home game until Oct. 16. 

“I think we have a good group, a very experienced group,” said Union midfielder Warren Creavalle, whose club has five games remaining. “We’re a team that can absolutely handle this stretch and thrive in it.” 

But that’s easier said than done, especially with this particular run of games. In that time away from Talen Energy Stadium, the Union will face the Portland Timbers, Toronto FC and New York Red Bulls — three playoff-caliber teams, two of which are ahead of the Union in the East. 

The Union are 3-7-4 on the road this season. 

“It’s going to be difficult,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. “We’ve had a good eye on those three games. Going on the road we knew would be a challenge. At the same time, we’ve proven we can win on the road, we can get points on the road.” 

Difficulty aside, the players echoed their coach’s confidence. 

“We just take it game by game,” said Union midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta, who had the Union’s lone goal against the Impact. “You can see we have a good team, we show it every game.”

Fafa Picault's late penalty rescues Union in win over Revolution

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Fafa Picault's late penalty rescues Union in win over Revolution

BOX SCORE 

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Fabrice-Jean Picault scored on a penalty kick and Jack Elliott had his first career multi-goal game to help the Philadelphia Union beat the New England Revolution, 3-2, on Saturday night.

Picault converted from the spot in the 76th minute, after New England's Antonio Delamea was called for a hand ball in the area, to give Philadelphia (9-11-3) a 3-2 lead.

Elliott, a 22-year-old defender who came in with one career goal, opened the scoring in the 14th minute. After Cory Burke's header, off a cross by C.J. Sapong, ricocheted off the post, Picault's shot from the top-left corner of the area was tapped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Matt Turner. Following the ensuing corner kick, Elliott back-heeled an entry from Haris Medunjanin into a wide-open net.

Elliott made it 2-0 when Picault's long-range bounced off the post and then deflected off the back of a diving Turner directly to Elliott for the tap in from point-blank range in the 24th.

New England's Andrew Farrell first-timed a left-footer, which deflected off a defender, in the opening seconds of the second half to make it 2-1 and Wilfried Zahibo's header, off a free kick by Diego Fagundez, tied it at 2 in the 64th minute.

New England (7-8-8) is winless in its last six games.

Union hire Ernst Tanner as new sporting director

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Union hire Ernst Tanner as new sporting director

CHESTER, Pa. — New sporting director, same youthful strategy for the Union.

The Union on Thursday hired former Red Bull Salzburg academy manager and youth talent expert Ernst Tanner as the team’s second sporting director, continuing the club’s drive to meld youth development and academy program with the first team.

“Ernst comes to Philadelphia with a strong track record of methodology implementation as well as player development and recruitment,” Union owner Jay Sugarman said in a statement. “He has worked for successful clubs at the highest level in Europe, signing and nurturing premier level talent at every stop."

Tanner, known primarily as a key talent evaluator and his eye for young talent, will fill the void left by Earnie Stewart, and bring the Union’s youth-first strategy into a new era. 

"We believe that Ernst is the perfect leader to continue building and improving upon the promising foundation we have established," Sugarman said.

The 51-year-old German-born Tanner had been with Salzburg in Austria since 2010. He began his career as academy manager of 1860 Munich from 2003 through 2009, before jumping to TSG Hoffenheim, where he held numerous titles. 

“I have followed the Union since the early days of the club, and over the past three seasons, there have obviously been many productive changes in terms of methodology and player development,” Tanner said. “I’m looking forward to utilizing my almost 25 years of experience and global player recruitment abilities to continue and forward the club’s trajectory. I also look forward to generating new ideas to advance the Union to even greater heights.”

Stewart, the former Union sporting director, left the club in August to take the open general manager position with the U.S. Men’s National Team. Stewart was key in improving the Union’s infrastructure in an attempt to the barebones organization into an international entity known for its youth opportunity and development.

“Earnie’s time here was great and he did a lot of great things,” Union manager Jim Curtin said following the team’s 3-0 U.S. Open Cup semifinals win over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday (see story). “There will be someone coming in new. I’m excited to get it to work with him because again it will be some new ideas for sure, which is good. It’s healthy.”