Union keep rolling, crush Toronto FC, 3-0
CHESTER, Pa. -- With a crisp and clean 3-0 win over Eastern Conference basement dweller Toronto FC on Sunday at PPL Park, the Union flashed domination in its purest form.
“We wanted to come out here and get a win,” said Union striker Antoine Hoppenot, who came on in the second half and score the team’s third goal. “The guys showed it in the first half, they came out with a lot of energy and put pressure on.”
With goals from Gabriel Gomez, Freddy Adu and Hoppenot, along with a shutout from Zac MacMath, the Union turned early-season boos into standing ovations. They held control, pushed the attack and played assertive defense. It was a complete game from a much-improved team.
“I’m glad this team got three points because our confidence is high,” said Adu. “We’re playing pretty good soccer.”
With back-to-back wins, the Union are now 5-9-2 in MLS play. But don’t think they are looking at the standings just yet.
“We’re concentrating on our own games,” said Sheanon Williams. “We have a big, important game on Wednesday and we’ll see Montreal [Impact] on Saturday. We can’t look at the standings, we just need points. At this point, we need to keep rhythm.
The Union face Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday at PPL Park in the US Open Cup semifinals.
After pestering the Toronto FC net early but with no result, the Union focused and kept drilling away, knowing the opposition’s back line would eventually break.
It took 34 minutes before that plan came to fruition.
“I think we’ve played a lot of good games but we came into this game with a plan and wanted to stick to it,” said McInerney. “We knew it was hot so we wanted to wear them down until they gave up.”
Playing long ball passes to the offensive wing throughout the first half, striker McInerney possessed the ball alone on the right side. McInerney crossed a pass to Gomez, situated in the center box. Catching the Toronto FC defense sunk deep into the crease area, Gomez poked an uncovered shot to the right of Milos Kocic and in to give the Union the 1-0 lead.
Two minutes later, Adu, who had an active and dangerous game throughout, accepted a perfect lead pass from Gabe Farfan inside of the Toronto box. Adu took one step and fired off a low shot that slipped through the defenders and inside the right post, making it 2-0 Union.
“Sometimes you get in the zone and I wish I could be like that all the time,” Adu said. “Today was just one of those days where my teammates were finding me in dangerous spots. When I did get the ball, I was aggressive and that’s something I felt I haven’t been in the last couple days. Today, I was able to do that and felt comfortable doing so.”
Hackworth was happy to see Adu lift his game to a new level.
“Freddy was really good,” said Hackworth. “I’m happy for him because we all know he’s capable of that kind of game and for him to go out and do it is fantastic. He created a lot early and guys were able to find him in great spots. He did a great job.”
Led by Adu and McInerney, the Union offense was creative, poised and extremely potent. They held 70-percent of the possession and had 11 attempts on net in the first half.
“Today, we kept it going a lot better,” said Hackworth. “We made them chase in the first half and we felt like the team that dictated the tempo of the game, would make the other do a lot of work. That was evident, especially in the latter part of the first half.”
Using the same successful formula that saw the Union go 2-1-0 in their last three games prior to Sunday, Hackworth replaced McInerney for Hoppenot in the 65th minute. That move paid off yet again, as Hoppenot took a Michael Farfan pass on a break and beat Kocic from right to left for the 3-0 Union lead.
It was Hoppenot’s second goal in his four games.
“He’s electric coming off the bench,” said Hackworth. “In a game like today, where there are some tired legs out there, he comes in and brings a lot of energy. It’s fantastic to see because that games looks a lot easier than it was right now. If they get one back, it gives them all the life. We talked about at halftime getting that third goal.”