The first win over Toronto FC was nice, but the second one was even better.
On Saturday at BMO Field, the Philadelphia Union completed a home-and-home sweep of Toronto with a key 2-0 victory, launching them into playoff position in the Eastern Conference and marking just the second three-game win streak in club history.
“We played very good today,” Union interim manager Jim Curtin said. “I actually thought today we were better than on Wednesday, to be honest. I’m happy with the guys’ performance.”
On Saturday, the Union trotted out the same lineup as they did for Wednesday’s game -- a 1-0 victory at PPL Park -- with one exception: Vincent Nogueira returned from a minor injury to replace Brian Carroll. And with Nogueira linking up with Cristian Maidana in the central midfield, the Union’s frontline of Andrew Wenger, Conor Casey and Sebastien Le Toux were able to find a lot of space and generate more scoring opportunities.
Although the Union lost the possession battle, they finished with seven shots on target, with Casey and Wenger both finding the back of the net with their head on feeds from right back Sheanon Williams.
“I think we were just a little bit more clinical in the box today,” Wenger said. “We probably created just as many chances, and defensively we frustrated them a little bit. We sat back and tried to take away their passing lines.”
There were certainly some similarities between Wednesday’s 1-0 win at PPL Park and Saturday’s north-of-the-border triumph, too. In addition to goalkeeper Zac MacMath getting his second straight shutout (after getting benched for the two games before that), Casey continued his run of good form with his second goal in as many games.
And for Casey, it’s pretty obvious that team is hitting its stride at just the right time. Fresh off this sweep, the Union will look for their first-ever four-game winning streak when they host the rival New York Red Bulls on national TV next Saturday (3 pm ET on NBCSN) – just three days before playing in their first-ever US Open Cup final.
“We’ve had a good run of results and we’ve also been playing well,” Casey said. “Sometimes you play well, but don’t get the results, but we’ve had both. Every guy on our roster right now is pulling in the right direction, and we just want to keep improving and getting points.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.