For the first time since June 24th, the Union (7-13-6) held onto a one-goal lead in the waning minutes of the second half to grab a 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact (8-10-4). It was the first time in franchise history the team had beaten Montreal on the road and their first win in their past six regular season matches.
In a very crucial time of the season, the Union are now just one point out of the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with just eight matches left to play.
“We want to win,” said Union manager Jim Curtin, following Saturday’s match. “We’re at a spot in the year where every point matters. We don’t like where we are on the table. There’s always pressure in this game to get results and I think we’ll enjoy these three points but we know we have New England, a very dangerous team that’s in good form, coming in.”
The Union were simply sensational from a defensive standpoint against Montreal. Led by the play of Ray Gaddis, Richie Marquez and Steven Vitoria, the Union silenced the debut of star Didier Drogba whose closest scoring chance came on a free kick in the 90th minute. Instead of Drogba, the play of Union goalie Andre Blake became the most talked about subject following the match. The No. 1 overall pick in 2014 posted a four save shutout in just his first start of the season.
“It’s a huge confidence builder for him because it’s been a while with the two knee injuries for him to get his first look,” Curtin said of Blake. “He’s been very patient, and we thought he deserved an opportunity and he stepped up and kept a clean sheet. So, very happy with that. Hopefully we can ride that momentum now and start picking up some points.”
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Another good sign for the Union has been the recent surge of the franchise’s all-time leading goal scorer, Sebastien Le Toux. Le Toux has now scored in four of the Union’s past five matches. His scoring, combined with the always lethal C.J. Sapong (seven goals) up top could serve as a dangerous duo for the Union down the stretch.
But their focus needs to be on defense first. They'll have no room for error once again, facing the New England Revolution (9-9-7) Saturday. They need to stick forward Charlie Davies (nine goals) up top, just like how they hounded Drogba over the weekend.
“We keep our feet on the ground, you know, it’s one game at a time,” said Union midfielder Michael Lahoud. “Obviously, our next opponent’s New England. We have a little bit of revenge on our minds against them, especially [after] the last time they came to PPL Park. And they’re a good team. But we know we’re also a good team and we’ll play for a result.”
Saturday’s match against New England will air at 7 p.m. on The Comcast Network.