CHESTER, Pa. — Aggressively pressing the right side of the box Saturday, Ilsinho beat his man to the inside. With a quick jab at the ball, his attempted pass rocketed off defender Frederic Brillant’s right leg and in.
It tied the match at one with D.C. United at Talen Energy Stadium. More importantly, it let the Union exhale and eventually claim the 3-2 win Saturday (see observations).
“We’ve been struggling to put the ball in the net,” Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin said. “It was a relief to get the first one in.”
It wasn’t the prettiest goal, but it was an important one for the Union’s young and frustrating season. The goal snapped a 243-minute scoreless run and was the Union’s first goal in two games, and second in its last six matches.
The Union were winless in five matches prior to Saturday.
“You look at Ilsinho’s goal, he just toes it but it finds its way into the net,” said Union manager Jim Curtin, who was confident that any break on a goal would open the door for more. “You have to shoot to score and although we had more chances to let it fly, I can’t be unhappy.”
Although United had scored first in the opening 10 minutes and managed to tie the game with a late goal by Darron Mattocks in the 70th minute, the Union were easily able to overcome those issues thanks to Ilsinho’s first-half goal. It seemed to settle the frustrated team, which went on to outshoot United, 23-4.
“No matter what, it helps to score,” said Ilsinho, who made the start for Fafa Picault. “We worked well today. We did a very good job today against a good team. They score first and then we score three goals, I think it’s good for everybody.”
Ilsinho’s fortunate bounce tilted the field in the Union's favor and opened the door for C.J. Sapong to score his second of the season.
"Ultimately it comes down to executing and getting the goals," Sapong said. "We've been in that position many times this season when we've had a lot of possession but the results didn't go our way. Today, everyone is glad to see shots go into the net."
The momentum also allowed Borek Dockal to come alive. The Czech attacking midfielder and linchpin of the Union attack grew as the game went on. His early season struggles were forgotten when in the 72nd minute, he found an opening on the right side of the box and launched a confident rising shot that found the top of the netting.
It was a clear sign that the Union's offense might be starting to gel.
"It feels like, finally," Dockal said. "We needed to get some points today. I scored the goal and we created chances, but sometimes [this year] it felt like it was not enough. In three or four games we struggled to score a goal so I felt the responsibility to do something with the result.”