CHESTER, Pa. -- Andrew Wenger made personal history on Sunday night in the Union’s 4-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes (see game story), scoring a pair of goals for the first time in his MLS career.
And he did it while barely able to breathe.
“Today was a tough day, to be honest,” he said. “I’m not feeling very well. I feel really sick. Half the day was just trying to keep myself going.
“It was hard for me to breathe for a lot of the night. I probably didn’t do as much running defensively as I would have liked. But we had a good team around us. Really, the story is the team played well.”
Fighting through sinus issues, the 23-year-old completed his most dominant performance in a Union uniform and possibly his professional career, burying the Union’s opening goal in the 10th minute and capping off the win with a goal in the 79th. Both goals put his size, strength, and speed on display.
“Let’s be honest, for me to get two goals is probably a long time coming for how many chances I get in my career,” he said. “I'm just happy we won the game.”
But that long-time-coming wasn't random, according to Union interim manager Jim Curtin, who believes the young player is on an upward trend and finally unlocking his massive potential.
Labeled as a target striker, Wenger was moved by Curtin to a left-side attacker, where he has recently platooned with Danny Cruz. Sunday was just Wenger’s second start since May 17.
“He’s a special player who just needs confidence,” Curtin said. "And a night like tonight certainly gives a guy confidence. He’s really learned how to play the position. It’s been a little unique for him to be out wide on the wing, but he’s starting to grasp some of the defensive responsibilities and that’s leading to his goals.”
The manager also believes that Sunday was just the beginning.
“He checks every box if you’re talking about a soccer player,” Curtin said. “He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he has very good feet around the goal. He can smack the ball with the right or left foot, as you saw tonight. He’s a guy with an incredibly high ceiling. I think you’re seeing the start of something.”
But if you ask Wenger, his surge has less to do with his position and more to do with the team around him.
“I think it’s everyone on the team playing well,” Wenger said. “You see connections in the midfield are building. There’s a back four [with] a little bit of consistency there. I think that’s what’s important. Not just certain guys are playing well but the entire team is feeling good about themselves.”
It’s been an adventure for Wenger in 2014. Traded to the Union for Jack McInerney on April 4, expectations were high for the Lancaster native, who didn’t get off to a great start, scoring just twice in his first 18 games.
Yet, while many bashed the trade, Wenger has four goals and four assists in 19 games with the Union, while McInerney has six goals and no assists in 18 games for the Impact.
“I’m enjoying it,” Wenger said. “It’s like a one-on-one battle out there. The important part is being able to pick that last pass and try to be a little more precise there at times. That’s where the challenge is.”