Updated: Saturday, March 3, 2018, 9:02 PM
Anthony Fontana spent much of his MLS debut Saturday on the move: running to pockets of space when the Union had the ball and pressing high defensively when they did not.
But when his biggest moment of the night came, the 18-year-old from Newark, Del., knew his best choice was to let the game come to him.
Fontana scored the opening goal in the 43rd minute as the Union beat the New England Revolution, 2-0, before 16,452 wind-chilled fans at Talen Energy Stadium.
The goal sequence started with Haris Medunjanin springing Alejandro Bedoya down the right flank with a great pass over the Revolution’s back line. Bedoya centered a pass for C.J. Sapong, who redirected the ball toward Fontana. All Fontana had to do was stick his left foot out and guide the ball home.
“I was going on pure emotions, running around doing whatever,” he said of his emotions upon scoring. “I know when I get an opportunity, I have to take it, and thankfully I feel like I did pretty well tonight.”
It was a well-deserved opening win, as the Union dominated play almost from start to finish.
Their work was first rewarded in the 24th minute, when Sapong got past Revolution centerback Antonio Delamea and was forcefully tackled from behind. Delamea was shown a straight red card for denying a goal-scoring opportunity.
Sapong scored the game’s second goal, in the 69th. Cory Burke, a new Union signing from their minor-league USL affiliate Bethlehem Steel, had the assist after coming in as a second-half substitute.
Burke’s night included drawing a foul in the 85th minute that got Revolution defender Claude Dielna sent off for a second yellow card.
It was a rough end to a long night for New England coach Brad Friedel, a U.S. national team legend who was making his bench debut.
Fontana was one of two Union academy products in the starting lineup. The other, Auston Trusty, was also making his MLS debut — and delivered an outstanding performance.
The 19-year-old centerback from Media matched up one-on-one with Revolution striker Juan Agudelo, and held his own quite well — including an inch-perfect tackle to stop a breakaway in the 21st minute. He is 6-foot-4 and has terrific athleticism, and both traits will have opposing teams’ full attention this year.
“It’s one win, but in a lot of ways for the club, a big win,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. He praised Fontana, Trusty and Derrick Jones, another academy product who was a second-half sub, for “leaving huge impacts on the game.”