The Union opened their 2024 season with a CONCACAF Champions Cup game in Costa Rica on Tuesday night, and after conceding a HIDEOUS own goal in the first half, they came back to thump Deportivo Saprissa with a Julian Carranza hat trick:

Final score: Union 3, Saprissa 2. The second leg of this series will be played at Subaru Park next week, and barring an incredible collapse, the Union are in great position to advance to the round of 16.

The first half really was horrendous. They looked like, well, a team playing their first game of the season. Jose Martinez was stuck in 1st gear, Damion Lowe and Kai Wagner collided in the box, and we were getting ready to lay the Benny Hill theme music over this comical own-goal:

Whatever Jim Curtin said at half time, it worked. They absolutely worked these guys in the second 45. Did they give up a cheap late goal? Yeah, sure, but they looked like the Union of two years ago for most of that half, getting high, defending as a team, and throttling Saprissa in transition.

Joe ran the numbers and noted that this is the 11th hat trick in Union history:

If you want a snapshot of how the good the Union have been in recent years, compared to how mid they were in the previous ten, look at how slanted that list is. From 2010 to 2020, the Union only had three hat tricks, ever. Since turning the corner and putting a competitive team on the field, they’ve got eight hat tricks, including one each from the current front three, and two players that have multiple hatties. That was a professional win last night in a tough environment. They really dug deep in crappy weather conditions, in a hostile stadium, to rip off three goals in less than 25 minutes for a road win.