CHESTER, Pa. -- Roland Alberg has been a terror for opposing teams.
The latest attack from the Dutch bomber happened Saturday, while the Union were gridlocked in a scoreless draw with Sporting Kansas City. Alberg entered the match in the 65th minute and ended it in the 67th, when he launched a volley that beat goalkeeper Alec Kann.
“I have to be patient, but when I come on the field, I have to do my thing,” Alberg said. “It’s a great team performance. We did a great job, got three points and we are happy with it.”
He added an assist for the 2-0 win (see game story).
“He’s a wonderful player,” said Union left back Fabinho, who assisted on Alberg's goal. “He came on and changed the game. I saw him and I know what he likes. I give the ball to him and he scores. He has nine goals. It’s nice for him. I hope he scores more.”
That type of impact hasn’t been irregular for Alberg. With nine goals on the season in just 925 minutes played, the 26-year-old leads MLS in goals-per-90 minutes with 0.88. Only New York City FC’s Frank Lampard is close with .85.
“He’s far and away the leader in our league,” said Union manager Jim Curtin, who originally cited Alberg’s goals-per-90 stat. “He has a special quality.”
Yet, despite that “special quality,” Alberg remains a super sub, buried behind Tranquillo Barnetta at the center attacking midfield spot. He has two goals in his last four games — all coming off the bench.
“I have to show it every training, and then it’s the coach’s decision,” he said. “If [Curtin] uses me as a sub, I’ll do 100 percent my best. And if it’s as a starter, it’s the same thing for me. Of course every player wants to play as a starter, and me too. But it’s a long season. Playoffs, they are coming. So I’m patient.”
Alberg’s potency isn’t lost on Curtin, even if the manager doesn’t switch his winning formula. Though Alberg is pushing for a starting spot, the Union might just be more dangerous with him off the bench.
“He’s a starter on most MLS teams,” Curtin said. “It’s just a matter of having depth at that spot. He’s a very valuable player to our team and shows we have a deep squad. I can’t say enough about how well he’s played in any role. As a starter for us, he’s won us a bunch of games, and his role off the bench, he’s won us some games now, too.”