Fafa Picault

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

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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 lose to Orlando City as offense continues to flounder

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Union lose to Orlando City as offense continues to flounder

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CHESTER, Pa. — Unfazed by the Union’s opening salvo, Orlando City held strong and punched back. Dom Dwyer and Chris Mueller scored first-half goals for the visitors, as they easily took down the floundering Union, 2-0, on Friday night at Talen Energy Stadium. 

Joe Bendik claimed the six-save shutout.

With the loss, the Union fall to a paltry 1-2-2 on the season and a concerning 1-1-2 at home. Orlando City moves to 3-2-1. 

• It wasn’t all bad for the Union. During the first 20 minutes, the hosts fired off four corners, 10 total crosses and seven shots. But as usual, it didn’t amount to much. 

• David Accam nearly broke through in the 27th minute, when he torched his defender and broke in on a partial breakaway. However, his short-side shot hit the side of the net. Impressive work but Andrew Wenger-like finish. That’s a trend this season.

• That lack of finish would haunt the Union in the 38th minute, as Dwyer, kept onside by Matt Real, escaped coverage and accepted a pass from Sacha Kljestan for the easy dish past Andre Blake for the 1-0 lead. It deflated the Union.

• Orlando continued punishment delivery in the 45th, when Mueller claimed a loose ball in the box and walked in net for the 2-0 lead. It was miscommunication and fumble by Jack Elliott and Matt Real that caused the turnover. 

• And if you thought it couldn’t get worse for the Union, it did. Out of the gate in the second half, center back Elliott, arguably the Union’s best player this season, went down injured with what the team called a “right leg injury” and was replaced by rookie Homegrown Mark McKenzie.

• McKenzie, who made the roster over Josh Yaro, joined Real and Auston Trusty on the back line. It gave the Union three Homegrown players on defense alone. With 22-year-old Elliott, the club had the youngest defensive line in MLS history. Add in 19-year-old McKenzie, and the Union set another record. 

• Looking for anything to give his team life, Union manager Jim Curtin pulled Fafa Picault for Ilsinho in the 60th minute. It didn’t work. Picault finished with three shots.

• While the season is still young for the Union, losing at home is a concerning trend. With four of their first five matches at home, this was supposed to be a lucrative stretch. Instead, the club is stumbling into phase two, which features four of five on the road — including FC Dallas, Toronto FC, Montreal Impact and Columbus Crew. Next up for the Union: FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium.

Union fighting off frustration as scoring slump persists

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Union fighting off frustration as scoring slump persists

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CHESTER, Pa. — If the Union are panicking over their offensive power outage, they aren’t showing it. 

“We’ll score. We’ll score,” Union winger Fafa Picault said. “It’s not really a worry. We’re gelling. It’s gonna work. It’s gonna be fine. No worries.”

They might be without worry, but they aren’t without frustration. Despite outplaying the Earthquakes Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium, the Union were forced into a sour, come-from-behind 1-1 draw (see observations). They outshot the visitors, 22-9, but had little to show for it. That lone score, a back-post header from Alejandro Bedoya, was just the club’s third goal in four matches. 

“I’m frustrated,” Bedoya said. “It’s crap to tie that game. Nothing against San Jose, but to play like that in the first half and not get anything out of it. We need to have a sense of urgency in the final third, get more guys in the box and make more decisive runs. It’s not good enough. We let ourselves down.”

It’s difficult to pinpoint what’s wrong. With newcomers David Accam and Borek Dockal in the mix, chemistry is a potential issue. But Union manager Jim Curtin doesn’t think that’s the problem.

“I can’t say that there is a lack of chemistry or something wasn’t there,” he said. “They created a ton. We had San Jose pretty much scrambling from the opening whistle, really threatened their backline. It’s a night that’s going to be frustrating to think about. We’re going to lose some sleep because it should’ve been three points.” 

Curtin also called it one of those snakebitten nights. But if the Union were cursed, Ilsinho was the spell breaker. The skillful Brazilian entered the match for Accam in the 63rd minute and had an instant impact, making a key drive that led to Bedoya’s goal in the 64th. 

“We wanted to inject some life into the game,” Curtin said. “Ilsinho came in, we switched Fafa to the left and it had an immediate impact because the guys executed and made a play.”

Bedoya seemed refreshed by what Ilsinho added to the Union attack. 

“He definitely brought a spark to the game and added something,” the captain said. “But that’s what we expect from the guys who come in as subs. When there are tired legs, we need guys to come in and contribute.”

Ilsinho wasn’t the only bright spot. Returning from a three-game suspension for a preseason incident, Picault was the most active player on the field, giving Curtin reason to be optimistic.

“He didn’t show a lot of rust for having missed game minutes,” the manager said. “We’re happy with the effort that he put in. He changed the team a bunch and gave us a real spark. On a different night, we could’ve had four or five goals.”