Though the opponent wasn't as glamorous as teams the Union have faced in recent weeks, Saturday's game at the New England Revolution was the Union's biggest of the year.
After squandering a 2-0 first-half lead, they delivered a big 3-2 triumph with a game-winning penalty kick by Fafa Picault. The result, combined with the Montreal Impact's 1-1 tie at Real Salt Lake, pushed the Union into fifth place in the Eastern Conference — the team's highest standing since March.
Union manager Jim Curtin signaled just how big the game was by making a major change to his lineup. C.J. Sapong and Cory Burke started together for the first time, with Sapong lining up at right wing and Burke at striker.
New England came out blazing, with five shots in the first 11 minutes. But the Union (9-11-3, 30 points) escaped and got the opening goal in the 14th minute off a well-worked corner kick. Borek Dockal played it short to Haris Medunjanin, who hit a low cross that Jack Elliott backheeled into the net.
Elliott struck again in the 24th minute, and this goal was even more surprising. After a nice buildup on the right flank, Picault struck a curling shot from nearly 25 yards off the left post. Elliott was in the right place for the rebound, and put it home from just off the goal line.
To start the second half, New England (7-8-8, 29 points) unsurprisingly roared out of the gate again and scored within a minute. Andrew Farrell delivered it, launching a 22-yard shot that took a big deflection off Auston Trusty and left Andre Blake helpless.
Just past the hour mark, Curtin withdrew Burke and sent in Fabian Herbers. The move sent Sapong back to striker, and put a more possession-oriented player on the flank. But New England kept charging forward and tied the game in the 64th minute. Wilfried Zahibo got far too open on a free kick and headed in Diego Fagundez's service.
Just when it seemed that everything was falling apart, the Union got a huge break. New England's Antonio Delamea committed a blatant handball in the 18-yard box in the 75th minute, and referee Allen Chapman promptly awarded a penalty kick. Picault buried it, putting the Union back in front.