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Wenger on joining Union: 'We're going to be great this year'
Andrew Wenger celebrates after scoring a goal in the Union's 2-2 draw with Real Salt Lake on Saturday. (USA Today Images)
CHESTER, Pa. - The last time Andrew Wenger entered PPL Park, boos followed his name.
On Saturday, the crowd was chanting it.
“That was pretty damn cool,” smiled Wenger, who was traded from the Montreal Impact to the Union on April 4. “Much better than the F-words they were giving me last week.”
The Lancaster native, who had 10 to 15 family members in the house, made the most of his Union debut on Saturday against Real Salt Lake. Lining up as the team’s primary striker, he finished with 86 minutes, multiple chances and a timely goal in the Union’s 2-2 draw (see story).
“I was pretty anxious,” said Wenger, who helped the Impact draw the Union on March 29. “If you saw my first touch of the game, it was pretty donkey. I actually gave the ball away, then fouled [Javier] Morales. It was good to get that one out of the way.”
Getting the nervous out with his “donkey” first touch, Wenger’s impressive night began in the 15th minute, when he got the ball in space and lofted a promising shot on net. The attempt floated over Jeff Attinella but deflected off the crossbar and stayed out.
“Just found myself in behind and saw him, he was five yards off his line and I just tried to get something out of it,” Wenger said. “Maybe it’s six inches lower or maybe it’s not. I knew there was a chance.”
Wenger corrected his miss in the second half. Gaining the zone and firing off a perfect right-footed cross into the box, Vincent Nogueira hit Wenger in stride, who moved the ball from his body to feet before calmly pushing a clean shot past Attinella for his first with the Union.
“I was just trying to play in the moment, that’s the best way to play,” Wenger said. “I don’t really remember what exactly happened, I just took a touch and slipped it in.
“It would have been a lot better if we could have gotten three points. But it’s good to open the account early.”
It was just what the Union needed from their new No. 9. Though the expectation was a lack of chemistry between Wenger and his teammates, it was a surprisingly smooth transition.
“He’s a perfect fit for our team,” said Antoine Hoppenot. “He has good feet, he can hold the ball up, make good runs and score goals. He’s going to have a lot of goals this year.”
But it wasn’t just a scoring touch that impressed Wenger’s new teammates.
“He showed a lot today,” said Maurice Edu. “Not only did he score the goal but he worked his tail off, he was tracking back, making tackles and breaking up plays. He showed a lot of good traits today and we’re pleased he got that goal. He’s going to be a good asset for our team, we’re happy for him.”