Philadelphia Union fans have suffered for so long that
even after the Union earned its first home playoff game in 10 seasons it only seemed logical that they'd have to suffer some more before the Union won its first playoff game.
Things didn't look good for the Doop faithful at halftime of Sunday's match against the New York Red Bulls. The Union trailed 2-0 and then 3-1 thanks in large part to one man: goalkeeper Andre Blake.
The former MLS Goalkeeper of the Year has endured a rough season that got much worse on Sunday when he gifted the Red Bulls their second and third goals after lunging and failing to push aside Josh Sims' opener in the 7th minute.
Blake's gaffe had gifted the Red Bulls a goal in their 2-0 win over the Union a month ago, but what happened in the first meeting of the year should have given Union and its fans hope. When it faced the Red Bulls at home in June, the Union trailed by two goals at the half and came back to win, 3-2.
That's just what happened on Sunday.
Giant center back Jack Elliott pulled a goal back with a header in the 52nd minute, and then the subs took over. Fafa Picault evened the score in the 78th minute, and then Marco Fabian scored the winner in overtime for a 4-3 victory.
If the Union was to finally end its drought, the winning goal was inevitably going to be fluky.
Fabian won an Olympic gold medal in 2012 and played in two World Cups for Mexico, but he has been in and out of the Union lineup after he arrived from Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany, starting just 15 games.
Fabian came on late in the first overtime and scored within minutes of entering the game. Following a wild scramble in the Red Bulls' penalty area, he fired a shot that took a deflection and looped over Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles into the far corner of the goal.
“Everybody’s going to remember this game,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “There’s a lot of reasons to remember it. They’re certainly going to remember Marco scored the goal."
The Union was coming off its best season in its history -- a 16-11-7 record -- but a first-round loss would have extended the Union's record to four defeats in four playoff games, three under Curtin.
Curtin was 34 when he took over as Union coach in 2014 and has endured boos and worse from fans throughout his five-plus years in charge. Fans were certainly showing their displeasure on Sunday.
“Our fans can walk a little taller now, a little prouder,” said Curtin afterwards. “That’s a good thing. It’s been a long time coming to get that first playoff win, it’s been elusive, and now we have it.”
Oct. 20 in Chester, Pa.
Philadelphia 4 NY Red Bulls 3. Goals: Bedoya 30, Elliott 52, Picault 78, Fabian 105+1; Sims 7, Parker 24, Barlow 45+4.
Philadelphia -- Blake; Elliott, Wagner, McKenzie, Gaddis, Bedoya (Creavalle 112), Aaronson (Picault, 72), Medunjanin, Monteiro, Wooten (Ilsinho 63), Sergio Santos (Fabian 103).
NY Red Bulls -- Robles; Lawrence, Parker, Long, Buckmaster, Casseres, Rzatkowski, Sims (Muyl, 29), Kaku (Davis 70), Royer (White 97), Barlow (Wright-Phillips 84).
Photo: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire