CHESTER, Pa. — When Haris Medunjanin lined up for a free kick during the second half of Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rapids, Fafa Picault turned to his teammates on the bench with a prediction.
“I said ‘Goal’ before it was shot,” Picault told MLSsoccer.com.
He was right.
That’s how confident the Union are feeling as they utilized Medunjanin's finish in a come-from-behind 2-1 win over the visiting Rapids — a result that gave them a club-record fourth straight victory.
“I hate losing and I guess that’s part of the character and the attitude of the team,” Picault said. “There are a few of us in the group that’s just like that.”
The Union had done their fair share of losing to start the season, going 0-4-2 and not winning for the first time until the ninth game of the season. In fact, the Union had endured a 15-game winless streak dating back to last August — a far more dubious club record but one they insisted they were trying to ignore.
“A lot of of people talk about August,” said Picault, whose insertion into starting lineup coincided with the team’s turnaround. “Half of us weren’t here in August. We really just started this season rocky, so I didn’t pay attention to the August comments. … Now we’re jelling and it’s evident.”
One of the players who wasn’t around last year is Medunjanin, who continued to show his quality with a game-winning 75th-minute strike that came after the Rapids went down to 10 men following two quick yellows to Caleb Calvert.
“When I hit the ball, I knew it was going to go in,” Medunjanin said. “It was a relief. Three points. I celebrate with the whole team because the club name is Union. I think we are together. We don’t have star players. We need to fight with each other and take the three points.”
Medunjanin said he felt relief because he fully admitted that the Union had a “very bad” first half as they fell behind to a struggling Rapids team that has yet to win a road game this season. But he said the players spoke at halftime about “sticking together” to make sure the winning streak would live to see another day.
“When you see the way a couple of bounces went our way late in the game, it’s something we didn’t see early in the season,” said C.J. Sapong, who scored the game-tying goal — his eighth of the season — on a 67th-minute penalty kick after a Kortne Fordhandball in the box. “For me, a guy that’s big on energy, that’s a testament to the positivity and the confidence that we have as a group now.”
Union head coach Jim Curtin did not mince words regarding his team's first half performance, "I think the first half was handled very unprofessionally by us."
However, he was proud of the response his suddenly surging club showed after the break, “Confidence is a heck of a thing,” Curtin said. “If you could bottle it up and sell it, you could make a heck of a lot of money. You see a group now that previously when we gave up a goal, we might lay down. We might panic. I don’t think we handled it perfectly but we did push the game in the second half.”