Player of the Week

Player of the week: C.J. Sapong

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Union forward C.J. Sapong never seemed able to hit double digits in goals. Twice, he finished with nine goals, once with Sporting Kansas City in 2012 and most recently with Philadelphia in 2015.

On Wednesday night at Talen Energy Stadium, Sapong finally found number 10 against Columbus Crew SC.

Initially, it looked like the striker would have to continue his wait. After drawing a foul to earn a penalty, a very public dispute with Roland Alberg erupted over who would take the kick. Sapong was left pleading with his coach before Alberg’s attempt was saved.

It would have been the Union’s second goal of the night, and Sapong had played a large role in the first. He picked up his fourth assist of the season after capitalizing on a failed Crew clearance. As the mishit hung in the air, Sapong chased down the play and set a bicyle kick back across the box. Ilsinho set the volley soaring into the net.

A wonderful Haris Medunjanin cross almost gave Sapong what would have been his tenth of the season in the 58th minute. The forward opened his hip and sent the first time volley past the keeper but not past the post.

But he wouldn’t be denied on the night.

Left back Giliano Wijnaldum sent a cross into the box in the 66th minute. Sapong rose above his marker and sent a header bouncing toward the far post. That post, however, stood firm again. The ball ricocheted back into the striker’s path who made no mistake to bury the chance from just a few yards out.

Sapong was finally able to take that weight from his shoulders.

Yet his night wasn’t done.

He collected another assist on the Union’s third and final goal of the game. Sapong won another aerial duel, this time heading a cross into the path of Marcus Epps. The rookie finished the move with his first goal of the season. On the same night Sapong set a career high in goals, his fifth assist also matched a personal best. He last recorded five helpers back in his rookie season with Sporting Kansas City in 2011.

Sapong needs games like this. Setting career highs are a deserved reward for all the work he does before the final product. PhillyVoice’s Kevin Kinkead highlighted this work in his piece last week.

All was not pretty for Sapong, however. Much like the Union as a whole, He backed up his record setting night with a mundane weekend performance in New England. All that work was happening too far from goal, and he couldn’t find the ball in dangerous areas.

Wednesday’s display, however, was more than enough to earn C.J. Sapong PSP’s “player of the week” award.

Honorable mention

Jack Elliott

All Jack Elliott did was add two goal line clearances to his 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year campaign. The week wasn’t without some shaky moments, but the 21-year-old Brit has continued to exceed expectations.

Marcus Epps

The Union’s depth was tested this week, and head coach Jim Curtin turned to another rookie in Marcus Epps. The South Florida product scored his first professional goal and recorded eight shots in the midweek clash with Columbus.

Previous Winners

2 Comments

  1. How many of his goals were PKs? Since people bring up that fact to discredit Alberg’s goal scoring exploits, I feel it is only fair to continuously mention it when congratulating CJ for his 10 goals.

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