The Philadelphia Union finally got back to winning ways on Saturday night with a 3-0 victory over rivals, New York Red Bulls at Talen Energy Stadium and the man at the center of the action, C.J. Sapong has been rewarded for his part in the action.
Inconsistent but deadly
Union fans, and neutrals alike, will tell you first and foremost what a frustratingly inconsistent player Sapong can be. Surprisingly quick for a big man, Sapong's hold up play is superb but his patchy goalscoring form is what sets him apart from other American big men like Jozy Altidore and one of the key aspects keeping him out of the thoughts of US Men's National Team coach, Bruce Arena.
However, this past week and truthfully through much of this season, Sapong has been Philadelphia's go-to man. The former Sporting Kansas City forward scored his first ever career hat-trick and just the third ever in Union history to give Philadelphia the win over an opponent who quite frequently has had Philadelphia's number. The award for Week ten of the Major League Soccer season is given by the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR), an organization that aims to unify the journalists of North America.
Sapong's hat-trick heroics put him joint top in the race for the golden boot with seven goals so far this season, tied with Houston Dynamo's Erick "Cubo" Torres but ahead by virtue of the fact that Sapong has scored one penalty versus Cubo's three. Sapong's tally of seven goals from nine games has him just two goals off of his record of nine goals scored in a season, which he set during the 2015 season. However, his hat-trick does little to alleviate concerns about his overall form, having failed to score from the middle of August onward last season.
Philadelphia's win takes them out of the cellar of Major League Soccer, having sat bottom of the East and joint bottom of the whole league along with the Colorado Rapids. While they remain bottom of the east on seven points, five points off of a playoff spot, they no longer have the worst record in Major League Soccer.
C.J. Sapong and company will travel to the nation's capital on May 13 to take on D.C. United at RFK Stadium as they look to inch closer to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Union fans and coaches alike will be hoping Sapong can continue to find the back of the net to push Philadelphia up the table.