Late last night, the Philadelphia Union played a physical match that wasn’t always pretty but resulted in a 2-1 win over Inter Miami FC.
The win confirmed Philadelphia will make it to the knockout rounds of the MLS is Back Tournament, along with Group A counterpart Orlando City who beat NYCFC earlier in the night. The match was not the best played from either side, but it had its moments of brilliance.
As the match started, the Union were on another level. Their speed and control of play was evident, which led to giving them the early lead. Brenden Aaronson danced on the ball in the box and tried to cross the ball. His cross was deflected and fell to the top of the 18. It looked like Jamiro Monteiro was going to get on the ball to start another attack, but he was called off by left-back Kai Wagner. Wagner was streaking to meet the ball; he hit it first-time on goal, which caught Miami keeper Luis Robles off guard. Robles got a hand to it, but he could not push the ball out of the goal. Wagner’s strike gave the Union an early 1-0 lead in the fifth minute.
As the match progressed, Philadelphia looked like a comfortable team controlling play and snuffing out Miami counter attacks. In the 27th minute, the Union broke on another counter-attack. Aaronson played Kacper Przybylko, who was playing off the shoulder of the Miami backline in on goal. Kacper managed to score but was ruled offside by the assistant referee. There was no VAR check, even though the play resulted in a goal, which shook the Union. After that chance, Miami woke up.
In the 36th minute, Miami stopped another Union attack. Philadelphia had all of their midfielders high up the field which made the defense scramble. A three on three attack for Miami saw some good passes made and Lewis Morgan had the ball in the box. he picked his head up and found Rodolfo Pizarro at the penalty spot. A laser pass came in, Pizarro took a few touches and found he angle to slot a shot past the Andre Blake and the Union defense.
The match stayed at 1-1 into halftime, with Miami having the momentum swung to their side.
As the Union came back out for the second half, they brought in Ilsinho for Sergio Santos. Santos coming back from an injury was only allotted 45 minutes, and the addition of Ilsinho helped the Union stretch the field in the second half. This seemed to provide some better looks for the Union’s attack, but the game was still standing on the edge of a knife. Both Miami and Philadelphia showed some promising moments through the first 15 minutes of the second half. It felt like Miami was the closer of the two to get the go-ahead goal. Then the Union sprung one of their patented counter-attacks.
Miami sent a ball into the box, that was dealt with by El Brujo Martinez. The ball was heading out for an inter corner when Ilsinho jumped on the ball and saw Teammates looking to jump on a counter. The ball was played toward Jamiro Monteiro. Instead of playing the ball into a Miami defender Monteiro jumped over the ball letting it roll past both he and the Miami defender and making it’s way to Brenden Aaronson. The promising teenager took the ball the length of the field, Monteiro and Przybylko made runs with him. A great ball from Aaronson eliminated a Miami defender. Jamiro jumped over the ball and let Kacper run onto it. Przybylko then cut up the last Miami defender, shifting the ball to his “weaker” left foot. He cushioned a perfectly placed shot past Luis Robles to give the Union the lead again! Philadelphia was up 2-1 in the 63rd minute and did their best to hold on.
Miami had to push to try to find the equalizer. The tried and tried, but could not find the breakthrough. Their best chance came in the 83rd minute from a corner kick. Lewis Morgan put in a peach of a ball that came to the head of Román Torres. His thundering effort rung off the crossbar. The Union dodged a bullet. Andre Blake also came to the rescue for Philadelphia once again in second-half stoppage time to secure the three points for his team!
Thanks to the win, the Union and Orlando City are through to the knockout rounds, setting up a huge final match between those two teams.
- Getting a win when not playing well
After the match, the Union head coach commented on how he was proud of his team for getting a win while not playing their best. This is something the Union never used to be able to do. The fact that they are now able to get these types of results is huge step in the right direction for the 2020 season and the MLS is Back Tournament.
- Brenden Aaronson getting deserved attention
Aaronson won man of the match honors in this one and his play has sparked the interest of many who have watched him in these two matches of the MLS is Back Tournament. Ex-MLS and USMNT star DaMarcus Beasley praised his play on twitter calling him silky. Beasley also mentioned that he could really help the US Men’s National Team. Speaking of the National Team, head coach Gregg Berhalter was shown on the broadcast taking in the game and taking notes when Aaronson was subbed off late in the second half!
- Andre Blake comes up big again
Andre Blake made seven saves in the first match against NYCFC, and in this match, he came up big again. While he only was pressed to make three saves, they were big time. His new-found confidence in second-half stoppage time is huge for this team that seems to need a special moment from Andre in the last moments of the match.
- The Union are rising up the MLS Standings
Something that can be forgotten in this tournament style of play is that the group stage matches of the MLS is Back Tournament count toward the 2020 MLS regular season standings. After these two wins in Orlando, the Union have moved into fourth place in the eastern conference. They sit in a tie for most points in the east with New York Red Bulls, Orlando City and Columbus. Each of these teams is sitting seven points, the Union are only behind the others thanks to goal difference.
- Philly vs Orlando will be for the top of Group A and much more
There is one more match to play in the group stage for Group A. This pits the Union up against Orlando City. Each team has won both of their matches and will be battling it out for the top spot in the group. This is important for seeding in the knockout rounds. The top team from Group A will play one of the four third-place teams that make it through, while the second-place team in Group A plays the second-place team from Group C. While this is obviously important, the three points in regular season play up for grabs is also important. These two teams both sit near the top of the eastern conference and adding three more points would be huge for both teams once regular season play resumes later in the year!
These two teams face off Monday, July 20th at 8:00 p.m. on TUDN. Don’t miss that match!
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Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports