Wenger nets two in Union’s win over ‘Quakes

By on August 27, 2014
Lititz’s Andrew Wenger goes on the attack in the Philadelphia Union’s 4-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes last Sunday night. The 2009 Warwick grad scored two goals to lead the offensive assault. (Photo by Greg Carroccio/Philadelphia Union)

Lititz’s Andrew Wenger goes on the attack in the Philadelphia Union’s 4-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes last Sunday night. The 2009 Warwick grad scored two goals to lead the offensive assault. (Photo by Greg Carroccio/Philadelphia Union)

If he had been healthier, Andrew Wenger might have been more of a presence for the Philadelphia Union on Sunday night.

“I haven’t been feeling well for a couple days,” the 2009 Warwick grad said. “I wish I would have been feeling a little better, I could have made a couple more runs and been involved in the game a little bit more.”

That would have been a scary thought for the San Jose Earthquakes.

As it was, Wenger scored two goals, including a key insurance tally in the 79th minute, leading the Union to a 4-2 Major League Soccer victory at PPL Park. The 23-year-old forward now has four goals and four assists on the season for the Union, who closed to within one point of the New York Red Bulls for the Eastern Conference’s fifth and final playoff spot.

“Anything I can do to help the team win is great,” Wenger remarked.

It marked Wenger’s first multiple-goal game against an MLS opponent. Earlier this year, though, he scored twice in a U.S. Open Cup game.

“I forget exactly which game it was,” he said.

His tally in the 10th minute against the Earthquakes won’t soon be forgotten by those who witnessed it on Sunday night. Following a turnover by San Jose, the Union’s Conor Casey and Sebastien LeToux quickly turned it the other way. Wenger cut inside of Earthquakes’ defender Sam Cronin, took a pass in front from LeToux and deposited the ball into the upper right corner of the net behind keeper Jon Busch.

Wenger’s classic finish is one of five nominations for MLS Goal of the Week accolades.

“Just a good counter attack from us,” Wenger recalled. “I just tried to find an easy pass for (LeToux), show him space essentially. I really didn’t have many other options &tstr; I just tried to hit it cleanly.”

That was the first of two shots that he hit cleanly against the Earthquakes. The second one – late in the second half – bookended Philadelphia’s two-goal victory. After San Jose rallied from a 2-0 halftime deficit, tying the game with a pair of goals just 11 minutes apart, Sheanon Williams put the Union back in front in the 72nd minute.

Seven minutes later, Wenger showed his wheels. Le Toux got him the ball at midfield and the Union’s No. 9 outraced San Jose defender Shaun Francis to the box, where he drilled a shot inside the left post behind Busch for the 4-2 advantage.

“I just kinda dribbled down the middle until someone tried to close me down and got all the way to the top of the 18 and just took a chance,” Wenger remarked.

Asked if he surprised Busch by shooting short side, he said, “Yeah, maybe. I wasn’t really thinking about it and just kinda playing.”

The Union’s game against San Jose marked only the second start for Wenger since May 17. Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin, who stepped in as the team’s new boss when John Hackworth was let go in June, moved Wenger from target striker to left-side attacker. While coming in off the bench, Wenger just tried to stay as prepared as possible.

“Some other guys were playing well and it’s a long season and those kinds of things happen,” Wenger said of not starting. “I had to try to stay sharp because my turn would come again and I was also getting some playing time in non-league games. So that was important just to try to stay sharp.”

In an article by Ryan Bright on csnphilly.com, Curtin was quoted as saying, “(Andrew)’s a special player who just needs confidence … He’s a guy with an incredibly high ceiling. I think you’re seeing the start of something.”

Wenger’s confidence was certainly evident in his performance against the ‘Quakes.

“Good things always happen when you’re more confident,” he said. “Being confident always helps, and also just trying to find my spot has been helpful.”

With Philadelphia playing seven of its final 10 regular-season games at PPL Park, Wenger and the Union are hoping to keep the momentum rolling. The Union returns to the pitch next Wednesday, Sept. 3 when they host Toronto FC at 7 p.m.

“We have a bunch of games at home,” Wenger remarked. “We’re trying to take them one game at a time and really trying to raise our level. We have a lot of fantastic players on our team and we’re really trying to put together a good run of results and really raise our level and play with some of the best teams in the league.”

Bruce Morgan is the sports editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at bmorgan.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4451.


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