CHESTER, Pa. — With the U.S. Open Cup championship match Wednesday in Houston, the Union showed extreme caution Sunday by leaning on a secondary squad to challenge one of the league’s best teams in Sporting Kansas City.
They still came away with the win.
Alejandro Bedoya assisted two Jay Simpson second-half goals as the Union defeated SKC, 2-0, at a rainy Talen Energy Stadium. In his first start of the season, John McCarthy earned the six-save shutout.
• After a back-and-forth, and ultimately lifeless affair throughout the first half, the Union struck gold in the 71st minute. Auston Trusty’s lofty pass found the head of Bedoya, who beat his defender and directed the pop-up cross to Simpson, whose pinpoint one-timer beat Tim Melia for the 1-0 Union lead.
• But the Englishman wasn’t done. For good measure, Simpson scored his second in the 89th minute, again from Bedoya, as the Union claimed the stunning 2-0 win.
• The victory pushes the the Union six points over the Montreal Impact for the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, and one behind the Columbus Crew for fourth at 14-12-4. SKC moves to 15-8-6 but retain control of the top spot in the West.
• The goals were Simpson’s second and third in a Union uniform and opened his 2018 account. Saturday was just the forward’s fifth start in two seasons for the Union, but he made an impact. The two assists gave Bedoya six on the year.
• With a match last week in Seattle, and the upcoming Open Cup title game scheduled for Wednesday, the Union started a unique lineup that included Oliver Mbaizo at right back, Fabinho at left back and Simpson at the lone forward position.
• Borek Dockal, Mark McKenzie and Trusty were the only Union regular starters to begin the game against Sporting Kansas City’s top choice squad. If Union manager Jim Curtin was honest, he’d admit a draw would have been an acceptable result against one of the Western Conference top teams.
• In the 55th minute, Curtin pulled Dockal for Bedoya. With Wednesday’s match looming, both players were on minute restrictions. The Union’s reserve No. 10 player, Anthony Fontana, played Friday for Bethlehem Steel and was unavailable.
• More Union changes occurred in the 63rd, when Fafa Picault joined the match for Fabian Herbers. Picault was coming off a 93rd game-winning goal in the Union’s midweek surprise win over the Seattle Sounders. Keegan Rosenberry replaced Mbaizo, who was making his MLS debut, in the 85th minute.