Jack Elliott "delighted" after becoming first Union defender to bag brace

Philadelphia Union center back Jack Elliott came into Saturday’s game thinking all about how to stop the New England Revolution's attack.

Getting in on the attack himself and becoming the first Union defender to ever score two goals in a game?

“No, I didn’t think of that,” Elliott laughed after his first-half brace lifted Philadelphia to a 3-2 road win over the Revs. “But obviously I’m delighted to score two goals and help us win.”

Any center back scoring multiple goals is something of an unlikely achievement. Elliott doing it was even more improbable since the second-year pro out of West Virginia University lost his starting spot in May.

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But with Mark McKenzie dealing with a minor knee injury, Elliott was called upon to start three games over the last eight days, delivering a standout performance in Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal win before scoring the second and third goals of his MLS career three days later.

“I hadn’t played in a little while. But I knew if I got called upon, I’d be able to put in a shift and do well," Elliott said. “This week started off a bit rough in Portland and it just got better and better with the semifinal win and pushing above the red line and into a playoff spot.”

Even though he was supplanted in the starting lineup by the Homegrown tandem of Auston Trusty and McKenzie earlier this season, Elliott has a good track record in Philly, finishing third in the MLS Rookie of the Year voting last year after a surprisingly good debut campaign.

Elliott also has the kind of height to make him a dangerous weapon on set pieces. With the Revs focusing on other players, Curtin noted that Elliott was the “fourth or fifth option marking — and he’s 6-5.” The Union worked that to their advantage with both of Elliott’s goals coming on restarts, his first a clever backheel flick and his second a right-place-at-the-right-time rebound.

“You need contributions from guys that maybe aren’t the most likely to score at certain times of the year to maybe carry you,” Curtin said. “And Jack getting two goals for us tonight was big.”