The starting XI remained unchanged Sunday night in Chester and Philadelphia Union earn second-straight win thanks to goals from Kacper Przybylko and Jack Elliott.
Union Head Coach decided to withhold creative midfielder Jamiro Monterio out of the starting XI Sunday night, instead deciding to leave the same group who smoother DC United a week ago to start yet again.
The first half was unconvincing from Philadelphia despite tallying the first goal of the match in the 18th minute.
The goal (above) was all thanks to Haris Medunjanin. Haris sprinted forward with the sneaky quickness he possesses and simply weaves through Houston’s midfield and back-line thanks to a few short passes. He found Kacper and received a perfect pass back onto his feet and fired off a hard-hit shot which Houston keeper Joe Willis failed to handle and Philadelphia were on the board first.
The goal was the 11th for Kacper and Haris registered his team-leading 9th assist on the play.
Though Philadelphia may have controlled the majority of the play throughout the opening half, the focus needed to make the possession meaningful was lacking. Continually, Philadelphia displayed some sloppy passing and were disorganized when pressing which allowed Houston to threaten a number of times throughout the first 45 minutes.
In fact, by the time the half time whistle blew, Philadelphia completed just 76.5% of their passes which is roughly 10% lower than average when entering the locker room at half.
Houston deserves some credit for the disjointed performance from Philadelphia but ultimately, Curtin’s group lacked the grit needed for a home match in mid-August.
But the second half proved to be a different story.
Seven minutes into the second-half Curtin finally decided to input Monteiro into the match swapping Warren Creavalle – who helped defensively but ultimately had a less effective passing performance compared to DC.
Five minutes after Monteiro was sent on, Curtin decided to push the envelope offensively and decided to throw Ilsinho on for Andrew Wooten – who similar to Creavalle helped Philadelphia in build-up but lacked the killer instinct in the final third.
For the next 10 minutes Philly, would focus on Monteiro, feeding him passes to get him acclimated into the match. Meanwhile, some tactical changes took place with just Kacper being the lone striker on the pitch.
Eventually, the offensive changes paid off for Curtin. Philly’s center back duo of Aurelien Collin and Jack Elliott created the game-winner in the 78th minute.
Above, a short corner kick allowed Ilsinho to navigate toward the middle of the pitch but was chopped down. Monteiro gathered the loose ball, picked his head up, and sent a curling ball into the box. Collin then jumped and banged it forward where Elliott bruised his way through Houston defenders to win the initial jump ball.
His initial contact sent the ball on frame and off the crossbar but Elliott moved closer toward the goal and headed in the ricochet into the back of the net.
Houston never really threatened following the goal from Elliott and Curtin’s decision to throw speedster Fafa Picault on for Marco Fabian in the 86th minute put Houston further on their heels.
The win puts Philadelphia back atop the Eastern Conference table with a comfortable 3-point lead over Atlanta United FC. Now, Philadelphia are set to travel to Chicago next week before enjoying a three-match homestand that begins with DC United August 24th.
The Union needed three points against a lesser opponent Sunday, and the accomplished that target. Philly fans enter a new week smiling.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Graduate of Pennsylvania State University ’16. Interests include sports and history. Follow on twitter for Philly sports news – @MMcClain_PSN
Philadelphia Union writer.