CHESTER, Pa. -- The Union have life.
With a 4-0 win over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night at PPL Park, the Union electrified their home crowd with an injection of youth from start to finish. It was a jaw-dropping victory over one of the leagues most tenacious defensive teams.
Going 0-4-1 in their last five games, the Union broke a dragging winless skid with flair to push their record to 3-8-2. After scoring just eight goals all season, the Union managed four -- a pair from Jack McInerney and likewise from rookie Antoine Hoppenot. It was a long overdue outburst.
The win was the first for newly assigned coach John Hackworth, who lost 1-0 to DC United in his head coaching debut.
Stunning Sporting KC and likely their own fan base in just the first minute, the Union struck first. Hoppenot fired a long overhead pass over the KC defensive line to Ray Gaddis on the right flank, the speedy rookie chased down the ball before pushing a cross pass through goalie Jimmy Nielsen to Lionard Pajoy on the opposite side of the box.
With defenders closing, Pajoy back-tapped the ball to trailing McInerney, who finished the play with this first of the season to make it 1-0 Union.
It was the first time the Union scored in the first 30 minutes of any match in 2012.
The Union doubled their advantage in the 43rd minute. A rarity off a set piece, Freddy Adu set up on the left side of the KC box and whipped a hard ball into the crease. The intended pass pinged off bodies before McInerney slammed it home for his second of the night and the 2-0 Union lead at the half.
The Union finished the first half with four shots on goal on five attempts.
In the 62nd minute, Teal Bunbury earned a prime chance in the Union box but was unable to get his shot on frame. The failed attempts and Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath plagued KC throughout.
In the 75th minute, MacMath made a diving stop on a line drive free kick from Graham Zusi at the top of the box. The save helped preserve MacMaths fourth shut-out of the season.
The Union showed offensive flash that wasnt previously seen under Nowak. Working KC defender Aurelien Collin one-on-one, Hoppenot made up for a muffed breakaway earlier in the half by putting the moves on and getting hauled down, earning the penalty shot.
Pajoy took the shot. He stutter-stepped before firing the ball inside the right post for the 3-0 lead in the 81st minute.
Hoppenot continued to awe the crowd in the 87th minute when he captured yet another breakaway. But instead of loft the ball over the net like he had done before, Hoppenot took his time and pitched a shot over the keeper and in for the 4-0 lead.
E-mail Ryan Bright at firstname.lastname@example.org