CHESTER, Pa. – Philadelphia Union midfielder Keon Daniel is not yet a known commodity, so few people around the league probably expect him to be a big-time goalscorer.
There is, however, at least one person who expects him to be just that: the midfielder himself.
“I’m a person that’s scored goals in my life before,” Daniel told MLSsoccer.com. “I’ve scored a lot of goals. It was a bit frustrating to be playing and not scoring.”
The Trinidad and Tobago international fixed that problem Saturday, netting his first MLS goal in a 1-1 tie with Real Salt Lake at PPL Park. The score came in the 24th minute when Daniel headed home a cross from rookie Michael Farfan.
“It was a good play – a good run behind the defense, a good cross from Michael Farfan,” Union manager Peter Nowak said. “We told the midfielders and strikers that you have to cut in between the defenders and the goalkeeper, and Keon found a great spot and finished it well.”
Just minutes earlier, it appeared as though Daniel had assisted on a Sébastien Le Toux goal, but it was called back because Daniel was offside. Still, the spark the outside midfielder produced in the Union’s attack was clear, especially in the first half when the club blitzed the RSL net with ferocity and purpose.
“As an attacking player, I’ve got to produce,” said Daniel. “I’ve got to score goals and I’ve got to get assists. I’m glad I did that [Saturday].”
Even if his first goal didn’t come until this past weekend, Daniel has still made an impact with Philly in his first MLS season. After signing with the Union following a successful preseason trial, he has made five starts and played 525 minutes this year, providing depth and plenty of speed on the outside of midfield.
The 24-year-old played for a couple of clubs in his native Trinidad and Tobago before joining the Puerto Rico Islanders of the NASL last season. He also trialed with English Premier League clubs Manchester United and West Ham United, and has showed his offensive ability by netting eight total goals with the Trinidad and Tobago national team in 46 caps.
Saturday’s goal, he believes, will be the first of many in this new phase of his career.
“I think it’s great for my future with this team,” Daniel said. “I think it’s going to bring me a lot more confidence. I want to get as many goals as possible.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.