In a very busy week for the Union (11-9-7), the team picked up two wins, six points and separation in the tight Eastern Conference playoff race.
They ousted the Columbus Crew (5-9-11), 2-1, on Wednesday before doing away with Sporting KC (11-12-5), 2-0, at home on Saturday night.
The third-place Union (40 points) now have eight points of separation between sixth-place D.C. United (32 points) with just seven matches left to play. They’re looking more and more like a playoff contender and are just three points out of first place in the East.
“I just told the guys that we shouldn’t just be just happy to get into the playoffs, we should be shooting for the top of the East,” Union manager Jim Curtin said after Saturday’s win. “You see a couple of the results go this night and it’s not out of the question.”
The stellar play of rookies Fabian Herbers, Keegan Rosenberry and Joshua Yaro has been a storyline for the Union all season, but this week held a little bit more meaning. The three rookies were all in the starting lineup for the first time all season this week, and their play solidified their spots for the foreseeable future.
In the team’s win over Columbus, both Herbers and Rosenberry tallied goals in a crucial road victory. Against Sporting KC, Rosenberry and Yaro were workhorses defensively, helping the Union to just their sixth clean sheet of the season.
“When Ernie and I talk about players, we don’t talk young or old, we talk good or bad,” Curtin said. “We don’t care how old they are, if they are good enough, we’ll put them on the field. We’re not scared to do that. We’re a club that wants to be known as a club that gives good young players a chance to play. … We believe in giving those guys that opportunity and all of them have rewarded us with good performances and some wins.”
The Union will head to Chicago next to face the Fire (5-12-8) on Saturday at Toyota Park. The match will air at 8:30 p.m. on the Comcast Network