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Philadelphia Union knock off New England Revolution 2-0 in 2018 MLS opener

Mar 3, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union forward C.J. Sapong (17) reacts after scoring goal against the New England Revolution during the second half at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

CHESTER, Pa. — The Philadelphia Union couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2018 campaign.

The Union knocked off the New England Revolution 2-0 behind goals from Homegrown debutante Anthony Fontana and veteran forward C.J. Sapong.

Fontana became the 59th different player to score for the Union with a 43rd-minute strike, while Sapong opened his account for the new season in the 69th minute.

After Philadelphia threatened for the first 20 minutes, it earned an advantage as Sapong tried to work his way in on goal.

Sapong was brought down by Antonio Delamea, who was given a straight red for his actions.

“I felt like I got a good jump on the run,” Sapong said. “Jack (Elliott) played a perfect ball. I felt like I was in and (Delamea) definitely was impeding me so it was good to see the ref make the right call there and it definitely did change the game for us.”

The Union finally cashed in on their chances in the 43rd minute, as Anthony Fontana scored from the middle of the box to give the home side a necessary one-goal advantage before halftime.

“I try to help the team in any way I can and thankfully I was able to do that with a goal,” Fontana said. “I don’t even know if I was there. I was going on pure emotions, running around doing whatever.”

The flurry of scoring opportunities continued in the second half, but the next Union goal didn’t come until manager Jim Curtin made a bold move by bringing on forwards Jay Simpson and Cory Burke.

In the 69th minute, Burke rounded a defender on the right side of the box and found Sapong, who powered his first strike of the season past Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner.

Sapong’s goal came on his sixth shot of the night, which before the 69th-minute strike was a frustrating one for the American, as he scuffed a few clear-cut chances right in front of the net.

“Obviously I’m a forward, I want to score goals and that’s the best way I can help my team,”Sapong said. “When I don’t do that, it’s going to frustrate me, but I had a feeling I was going to get more and more opportunities. I do pride myself on looking at the positives.”

“For me, that’s the most chances I’ve had in a half my whole career maybe, like really solid chances,” Sapong said. “One, it shows as a team we’re really opening up the other team and I’m finding myself in the right spot so that’s something you know the sharpness is going to get there and hopefully getting this one goal will give me the confidence I need in front of goal to keep scoring.”

In addition to Sapong scoring a goal, recording six shots and earning a red and a yellow against Revolution defenders, the new-look Union attack looked threatening all night with David Accam beating Andrew Farrell on countless occasions on the left wing.

“I think from the beginning of the game we really imposed ourselves and that allows us to do things that we want to and it definitely allows us to execute and put them under pressure,” Sapong said.

Things went from bad to worse for Revolution manager Brad Friedel in his first game in charge in the 87th minute, when Claude Dielna was handed his marching orders for a second yellow card.

New England ended with the same number of red cards and shots on goal, as it failed to produce anything consistent in the final third after the first red card.

The Union return to the field in two weeks, as they face the Columbus Crew at home, while the Revolution take on the Colorado Rapids in their home opener next Saturday.

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