By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer
As they were missing eight players, both due to international duty and yellow card accumulation, the Union turned to their young players to earn some points against the conference-leading New England Revolution. Although they put on a strong performance, it wasn’t enough to beat the Revs.
In the first ten minutes of play, it was the Homegrown show. Fearless and effortless runs forward cut through New England’s attack, but it wasn’t until the 23rd minute that the Union had their first scoring opportunity. A long ball from Kai Wagner found Kacper Przybyłko, who played it off of his chest and right to Quinn Sullivan. Sullivan rocketed a pass to Paxten Aaronson, who skirted into the box to force Revs goalie Brad Knighton into a diving save.
Sullivan once again found himself at the center of a scoring chance, catching a pass from fellow Homegrown Nathan Harriel, and tore up the center of the field. Przybylko might have been the natural choice to pass to, but Sullivan instead floated the ball to Leon Flach, forcing another New England save.
New England might have only had one solid chance in the first half, but it was enough to put them ahead. Harriel was booked for a foul on Arnor Ingvi Trautason, whose free kick found Matt Polster, who knocked it past Joe Bendik to put the Revs up 1-0.
There was no shortage of tension between the two budding rivals, but the youngsters continued to make mincemeat out of the visitors. Jack McGlynn and Alejandro Bedoya didn’t give New England any room to breathe in the midfield, causing more scoring chances to ensue for the home team.
Bedoya and Aaronson both had shots saved by Knighton, but the real advantage came when Trautason seemed to be looking to get revenge on Harriel for the foul earlier in the game. After Harriel had been dispossessed, Trautason proceeded to haul the 20-year-old down anyway, earning him his second yellow card of the night and giving the Union the man advantage for the final 30 minutes of the game.
Aaronson continued to be a problem for the Revolution, proving himself to be especially dangerous around the box. After a corner kick wasn’t cleared all the way, Aaronson chested the ball and kept it with him before whipping a left-footed shot at Knighton, who just managed to knock away.
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The attack continued to relentlessly dog the visitors’ defense, but their efforts were futile, as nobody was able to find the back of the net.
The Main Takeaway: The biggest positive, not just in this game but this season as a whole, is how comfortable the young players are controlling big games like this. Even with their B team, New England are simply not an easy team to beat. Jim Curtin put young and inexperienced players in positions where they could have an impact on the game, and it worked. It was unlucky that none of their chances came to fruition, but it’s extremely positive. Sometimes a team has to sacrifice points for the development of its young players.