Fontana’s “next-level” performance gives Union needed boost

Fontana’s “next-level” performance gives Union needed boost

CHESTER, Pennsylvania — Anthony Fontana had been waiting for his chance to make an impact for the Philadelphia Union this season and made the most of his opportunity Saturday in an important win for the club.

Fontana came off the bench at Subaru Park and registered his first multi-goal performance in a 2-1 Union win over the New England Revolution. It was the latest of impressive cameos for Fontana, who also impressed in short time in a 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls the week prior.

Not only did Fontana score both goals in Saturday’s win, but he now gave Union head coach Jim Curtin a decision to make going forward regarding his minutes.

“There was a stretch of games where we did not go to Anthony, and those are moments in your career where you can do one of two things,” Curtin explained. “You can sulk and be upset and be a bad teammate, or you can do what Anthony did, which was come to training every day, work hard, stay after in the weight room, watch more film… It’s not coincidental that you get rewarded in moments like that. Like tonight, where he scores two incredible goals for himself. This game of soccer tends to tell the truth.”

Fontana came into Saturday’s match with two goals and one assist in his prior 13 appearances for the club, but looked like a seasoned pro in his 25 minute spell off the bench. The Union were without super-sub Ilsinho through injury, but it was Fontana who stepped up off and delivered off the bench in Chester.

The midfielder gave the Union a 1-0 advantage in the 73rd minute with a clever chip from close range past Matt Turner. With a slew of players around the box, Fontana kept his cool and scored to put the Union ahead in what had been a sluggish game up to that point.

“Certain players have a knack around the goal,” Curtin said. “The first finish is a next level-type of finish—to have the awareness there. Turner gets on him really fast and makes a good play to almost give him no angle to shoot. To elevate the ball and stay composed in that moment was clinical. But we see that from Anthony in training every week.”

However, the lead didn’t last long for the Union, who saw Tajon Buchanan make an impact off the bench for Bruce Arena’s Revs. Buchanan slotted past Andre Blake 13 minutes after coming on a substitute and looked to earn the Revs a point on the road. Fontana though saved his best for last with a Goal of the Week nominee strike in the final stages of the match.

Fontana picked up a loose ball roughly 23 yards out and rifled a right-footed shot past a diving Turner for the winning goal. He celebrated with his teammates and helped close out the win, the Union’s second-in-a-row overall and its sixth home victory over the Revs dating back to 2016.

“I’ve been working on that shot a lot,” Fontana said. “I’ve been putting in a lot of work on that, and I set it up and hit it as fast as I could. I knew there was pressure coming out at me, but there was that clear pathway, and luckily it found the back of the net.”

Fontana has registered 103 minutes of game time this season, but his latest performance could see him earn his first start in an upcoming Sept. 20th date with the Montreal Impact at Red Bull Arena. The Union jumped back to second place in the East with the win and remain in touching distance of the top spot heading into its next three league matches.

“I couldn’t be happier for him to come in and make a difference like that,” Alejandro Bedoya said. “He did that against the Red Bulls and kept it going this week—well, every week actually, even though he hasn’t really gotten a chance—and couldn’t be prouder of him for taking opportunities tonight.”