Dániel Gazdag (right) could become the first player in Philadelphia Union’s club history to reach 17 goals in the MLS regular season (Photo: Imago Images)

 

– Shall we make a bet?
– On what? – asked Dániel Gazdag, the 26-year-old midfielder of Philadelphia Union in the North American Professional League (MLS), who scored three goals in the 6-0 win against Colorado on the last matchday, and now has 16 goals in the regular season.

– That you would lose a bet with your manager Dušan Vasiljević.
– That's possible. So much that if I score one more goal, I'll pay for his dinner. I'd be happy to invite him, of course, because it means I'd be setting a club record: no Philadelphia player has ever scored 17 goals in the regular season. Dušan Vasiljević claimed a few weeks ago that I would get there easily, but I was less optimistic. I'm glad I was wrong! I've already set the record with Sunday's hat-trick, and I'll break it with my next goal. There are six more league games before the playoffs, hopefully, I'll score at least one more goal.

– You could have done it against Colorado...
That's true, but after I had already scored one penalty, I let Julián Carranza take the second one. On the one hand, we have a good relationship, and on the other hand, he, Mikael Uhré, and I understand each other very well and help one another, and I owe it to them that I'm playing so well. We score a lot of goals, and we enjoy football.

– You scored the first triple of your career, didn't you?
– 
In a topflight league, yes. Two years ago, I scored four goals in a Hungarian Cup match against Tiszaújváros, while still playing for Honvéd. That is a good memory, but this will be even better. It didn't take much, though, because during the break, when I had already scored two goals, our coach asked me if I would like a hat trick. The reason for this question was that we had a tight August schedule, with another clash on Wednesday, and Jim Curtin didn't want me to be too tired. When I said yes, he said he'd take me down as soon as I scored the third, and if I didn't score by the 85th minute, he'd also take me down. Well, I scored my third goal in the 84th minute, and then I ran to the manager and told him he could substitute me then.

– That shows how much Jim Curtin trusts you.
Not just him, but everyone at the club. I'm part of a good team, a good community, everyone helps each other where they can. That's why I let my partner take the penalty. Also, I thought I'd have plenty of chances to score that third goal. I was getting nervous as the game was approaching to an end, but fortunately, what was not lost was not delayed.

– Do you get a match ball for scoring three goals in the United States as well?
Yes. I got it after the final whistle when my teammates signed it and some of them even added a nice message or two. Like at every home game, my family was here as well, and my eldest son Danika took the ball. I'm afraid he'll want to acquire it, but if I can, I'll get it back from him because I'd like to keep it as a souvenir.

– You could even catch up with top scorer Sebastian Driussi with another hat trick...
It's not as easy as it sounds. The Austin striker is in excellent form, he scores in almost every game, not to mention that his team plays as good attacking football as ours. The way I see it, I'm going to do my best to win the title, but if I don't, I won't be disappointed. Winning the league is more important to me.

– Could Philadelphia win the gold?
– 
Right now, we're looking at keeping our lead at the top of the Eastern Conference Standings until the end of the regular season, because that would mean we'd only have to join the playoffs in the conference's semifinal, and we'd play at home in the semifinals and the final. If we get there, as things are not, we would only have to play the league final away from home, but even that could change. And could we win the gold? We believe it more and more.

DÁNIEL GAZDAG SCORED HIS TEAM'S FIRST, SECOND, AND FOURTH GOALS

 


UNITED STATES
MLS, REGULAR SEASON
Philadelphia Union–Colorado Rapids 6–0
Philadelphia Union: Dániel Gazdag scored his team's first, second, and fourth goals before being substituted in the 85th minute.

Translated by Vanda Orosz.