Thursday, April 17, 2014
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Philadephia Union's Colombian connection delivers in 2-1 win over Montréal Impact

Plenty of people who watch the Union on a regular basis have weighed in on forward Lionard Pajoy's lack of production with the team.

Philadephia Union's Colombian connection delivers in 2-1 win over Montréal Impact

Plenty of people who watch the Union on a regular basis have weighed in on forward Lionard Pajoy's lack of production with the team.

But if it has been rare for Pajoy to score, it has been even rarer for Carlos Valdés to put the ball in the net. Of course that's in large part because Valdés is a defender, but it's worth noting that he has scored just two goals in nearly 4,400 minutes played in league games for the Union.

Pajoy has been more productive - despite the often-merited criticisms leveled at him by fans and the media. He has scored five goals in 14 league games this year, as well as two goals in the U.S. Open Cup and one in a friendly against Schalke.

I'm not going to claim that Pajoy has yet justified the hype placed upon him when the Union signed him. But he is playing with confidence, and has taken real steps towards removing the "bust" label that was placed upon him in late spring.

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After the Union's dramatic 2-1 win over the Montréal Impact on Saturday at PPL Park, Valdés and Pajoy talked with reporters about their confidence and their roles in the Union's improving form.

I also caught up with Impact midfielder Justin Mapp, formerly of the Union, to get his views on the game and his former team.

And when that was all done, I got together with The Inquirer's Chad Graff for a video analyzing the importance of the Union's win.

Philadelphia Union defender Carlos Valdés

On the emotion of scoring the winning goal, especially having given up the tying goal moments earlier:

Nobody expected a goal in the last minutes, but I'm very, very proud and happy for this opportunity.

On how much confidence it gives him and Lionard Pajoy to have scored goals in the game:

Yeah, I think we are getting better now. We trust in ourselves, we trust each other. And you know, we have less pressure now, and the guys are taking advantage of John and his work.

On whether he had a plan to execute from Sheanon Williams' throw-in that set up the goal:

In the last few games, we tried to play the long ball by Sheanon. We didn't have the opportunity to score [from that] in the last few games, but today we had that possibility to score from. It was the last minute - nobody expected us to score and win the game.

On whether he was nervous when the ball came to him:

Not really. I felt before the game that today could be a great day, a great game for me. I didn't know if it was going to happen or not, but I had a good feeling.

On whether he remembers the last time he scored a game-winning goal:

Every time I have scored a goal in a game, our team has never lost. In my career it has always been something nice: that every time I have scored, we have won. It's very impressive.


Philadelphia Union forward Lionard Pajoy (through an interpreter)

On whether it was simply instinctive to score when positioned almost on the goal line:

Yes. The coach has always told me that whenever the ball is coming from the sideline, I should be near the goal playing the No. 9 position. And in that moment, I was in the right place, and luckily the ball went in.

On what it says about the team's mentality that they came back to score after giving up a late tying goal:

It was a tough goal [to give up], because we thought that we had the game in our hands. The goal was more a mistake on our part, not something they merited. We knew that we had a few minutes, so we all pushed forward with confidence and we were able to get the goal.

On what he thinks of Antoine Hoppenot and his potential:

I think the coaches are doing a good job of developing him. He is a young player who is learning, and he is showing that every game when he comes in. He should become a great player and he has a good future with this team.

On whether he has talked to Hoppenot one-on-one, given the language barrier between the two of them, or whether the language soccer doesn't need so much translation:

Yes, Antoine can talk to me because he knows a little bit of Spanish. We learn from each other - I speak a bit of English and he speaks some Spanish. So we make it work.


Montréal Impact midfielder Justin Mapp

On being back in Philadelphia:

It was kind of weird being back, staying in the hotel and everything. I enjoyed my time here and I look forward to coming back again.

On the applause he got from Union fans before the game, and again when he was substituted out:

It was good. I enjoyed my time here, I thought the fans were great. I guess they took it easy on me tonight. I wasn't sure what to expect. They have tremendous support here.

On moving from the left side of midfield to the center in the second half, and whether it changed his playing style:

It doesn't really change, to be honest. Just trying to be dangerous and move around in certain pockets, even similar to the left. I played there a lot last week. So it's not a huge change, just trying to get a different look.

On the dramatic nature of the loss:

We've had a lot of games like that this year. I thought we did well enough to win - maybe didn't put away enough of our chances, had some mental lapses and unfortunately it has kind of been the same story too many times thus far. We can't let these points slip away, or we certainly won't make the playoffs.

I don't know what the answer is, but we've got to turn it around and do it again on Wednesday.

On Impact forward Marco Di Vaio taking eight shots in the game but not scoring, and whether the Designated Player is putting too much pressure on himself:

I don't know. I can't speak for him, but he's working really hard up there. He's getting the chances. That's all you can ask sometimes. As a striker, you don't score, and that's soccer. But I'm sure he'll score, and score plenty. I don't know how much pressure he puts on himself, but we obviously have full confidence in him.

On whether he is surprised by Jack McInerney's strong performances for the Union since Peter Nowak's dismissal:

No. I roomed with Jack and know Jack well. I think he has gotten a chance here lately, and done well with it. He's young and brings a lot of energy - he's a talented young player. So I'm happy for him and I hope it continues for him this year.

On the large contingent of Impact fans who traveled from Montréal to PPL Park, and on how Impact fans compare to other fan bases in MLS:

Montréal fans are great, similar to the fans here in Philly. Very passionate, and it's good to see them make the trip down. It's not really that far. I wish we could have gotten a win for them. It's great to have traveling fans in this league, and I think it's growing more and more.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, U.S. national teams and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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