It has been a long time since the Philadelphia Union claimed a victory in Houston. 2011 to be exact, was the last time Philly savored a win at BBVA Compass Stadium, but that all changed Wednesday evening.
Jim Curtin’s side used a strong individual performance by playmaking midfielder Borek Dockal, paired with some refereeing decisions, to down the Dynamo, 3-1. Dockal, registered two assists for the Eastern Conference club who snatched their third victory on the road this season.
“Very important three points, especially after the loss to the Galaxy and we had to overcome some hot weather as well tonight,” Dockal said. “It was a deserved three points overall.
“We were pretty effective tonight which was important. Both goals I received passes from Haris (Medunjanin) and was able to find my teammates. On the first, Ale (Bedoya) made a great run and I was pretty sure he wasn’t offsides and it was a great goal. The second to Cory (Burke), he was a little surprised but a good finish by him as well.”
The Union dug deep and had to overturn a early finish by in-form Dynamo striker Mauro Manotas. Bedoya leveled the score with a chipped effort past Joe Willis in the 34th minute, which many Dynamo players questioned to be offside.
Referee Joseph Dickerson flipped the match on its head, sending Tomas Martinez off in the 59th minute. The forward went to poke a cross but instead caught Auston Trusty with his foot. It was a harsh call by Dickerson, as the Union would take the lead through Burke later in the half before Fafa Picault sealed the win with a stoppage-time penalty kick.
“The red card changed the game tonight and we were able to capitalize,” Curtin said. “I’m extremely proud of the guys to bounce back from the LA result and show some grit on the road. It was a special performance from the guys, we were tough to break down, showed composure and got the win. It wasn’t a beautiful game, but you have to find ways to get wins in this league, midweek, in the summer.”
Despite not scoring a league goal since June 23, Dockal’s passing ability has added a huge threat to the Union’s attack. His two assists on Wednesday now give him six in his first season in MLS, and doubled his production in last Saturday’s defeat to the LA Galaxy.
Although he may not grab the attention like many other MLS midfielders do, Dockal has been able to come up big for the Union when they’ve needed it. Even with some slow performances this season, the Czech Republic international has impressed Curtin with his ability in the attacking third.
“Borek’s ability to play a final ball is special,” Curtin said. “On little through balls that were the same in some ways, he was able to make it happen. We work on timing in practice every day so credit for Borek as he continues to creep up in assists this season.”
Now with the road win, the Union sit a point out of the playoff places in the East, heading into a nine-day break in league play. August will not be easy for Philadelphia, who has six matches on their schedule including a U.S. Open Cup semifinal tie against the Chicago Fire. Even with some hiccups this season, the Union are happy to take three points in a tough Houston environment as they now rest up for August.
“This is a huge three points for us,” Bedoya said. “Now with the all-star break coming in we wanted to end this run on a good note. With this three points we know we’re putting ourselves in the hunt for the playoffs. We would like to be higher, but we are where we are right now so we’re happy with three points in a tough place to play.”