CHESTER, Pa. — Roland Alberg is on fire.
The Dutch newcomer ripped the Chicago Fire apart on Wednesday at Talen Energy Stadium, piling in three goals on goalkeeper Sean Johnson for a 4-3 Union win.
He even had the primary hand in a Fire own goal.
“It’s incredible,” Alberg said. “The fans are great. Everybody — the fans, the staff, my teammates — I don’t know the word but, yeah, they love me. It’s good. Look, I’m sweating now. It’s good.”
Wednesday's outburst was just a continuation of potent play from the elated midfielder, who scored his first MLS tally on Saturday against New York City FC. And even that goal was a continuation of momentum, as Alberg potted two goals against the Harrisburg City Islanders in the Union’s U.S. Open Cup opener on June 15.
That’s six (and a half) goals in one week.
“You can see when his number was called he was ready to come in,” midfielder Warren Creavalle said. “Even in the New York game, that shows his mentality. When it’s game time, he’s ready to play.”
But if you ask Union manager Jim Curtin, Alberg’s breakout was expected, if not overdue. Acquired this offseason from ADO Den Haag, the 25-year-old fought to break into the Union lineup since his 53-minute performance against the Seattle Sounders on April 16.
Since then, Alberg only played 15 total minutes, before being set loose against NYCFC.
“He’s great around goal, that’s for certain,” Curtin said. “He hits a heavy ball, he has a great left foot and he makes good decisions around the goal. There’s an adjustment period for everyone coming into this league; it’s a unique league. The dirty running, he’s really improved. We had a group that created a lot of chances tonight and he was a big piece in that.”
And Alberg’s surge happened at the perfect time. With Vincent Nogueira leaving the team as a result of health issues, the Union needed to revamp with Tranquillo Barnetta playing a deeper role.
“The beginning was difficult to find my way,” he said. “I think the last couple of weeks, it’s been going well. The team knows the way I play now so that’s important. I feel comfortable, good, relaxed. It feels good.”