For everyone, including yours truly, that braved the elements for Saturday night’s Union game, I just have to commend because boy howdy, was it a cold one last night. With a winter storm raging on beforehand, those who came out to tailgate or even show up to the game showed how much they love this team, and did the team respond in kind as Union blank Earthquakes 2-0.
The team honored Ilsinho, who just recently announced his retirement and was honored during the game by the team and fans. With the temperature around the mid 20’s for kickoff, it certainly was a cold one and showed early with how both teams seemed to respond. Let’s look at both halves and some interesting things that happened post-game.
Union Blank Earthquakes
As our esteemed and legendary play-by-play announcer mentioned just before the game, the temperature on the field appeared to be around 12 degrees, which made for some interesting play. The first 20 minutes of the game was a slog as both teams settled into the chilly temps and tried to establish some form of possession and cohesion. San Jose did not have a lot to offer on the attack to start the game but did seem to control a bit of the possession as most teams that play the Union do during a match.
The best chance from the first 20 minutes of the game was absolutely the header from Nate Harriel on the corner kick, forcing a spectacular save from JT Marcinkowski. This seemed to kick the Union into high gear because shortly after that moment came the team’s first goal. Sergio Santos got played into space and made a perfect run around Jackson Yueill towards the end line. He cut the ball over to a wide-open Cory Burke for an easy tap-in to take the Union on top 1-0.
A beautiful play that resulted in an easy tap-in for Burke, his second of the season. There were a few other changes in the half, with Santos just missing the net after being fed in on a nice pass from Gazdag being the best chance in the remaining time of the half, taking the 1-0 lead into the half.
The second half definitely had a few more chances to it. The first chance came around the 56th minute with Santos once again fed in on a nice pass, forcing Marcinkowski to come out big and make another big save to keep the margin at one. Within a minute of this chance came the next big break for the Union. Leon Flach won the ball back near the side of the box and crossed the ball in. After an initial clearance, the ball fell once again to Jackson Yueill, who settled the ball down with his outstretched arm in direct view of the ref, who pointed to the spot for PK without any hesitation.
Daniel Gazdag was the PK taker this time around and channeled his inner Ilsinho, slotting home the PK with a very cheeky panenka to put the Union up 2-0. This showed a man who was full of confidence to pull off such a risky move. This wasn’t the final chance from Gazdag, who was fed in on a chance near the 70th minute to only be denied by another solid save from Marcinkowski.
From there, the Union seemed to control the play with the Quakes not really challenging Blake with any real chances after that to wrap up a solid 2-0 win for coach Jim Curtin, his 100th MLS win as manager of the Union.
This was a solid effort from the team, but it wasn’t without some fireworks after the game. Eric Remedi and Jose Martinez had some choice words for each other as the teams walked off the field post-game, which forced both teams to get involved in pulling each other apart. Not sure what Remedi said to El Brujo to warrant such a response, but it did feel like this was just a continuation of the on-the-field activities. Remedi pushed the line of getting a second yellow card the entire game, so it was curious to see him react like this.
Outside of this, the real question that everyone had on their minds was the absence of DP striker Mikael Uhre. Curtin was asked by the media about this and his response was that he had a slight muscle injury that wasn’t super serious, but they did not want to risk it, which explained his absence from the lineup. It was a disappointing answer but one that should hopefully not be too serious and we can see Uhre in the lineup sometime soon.
The team next plays on March 19th when they travel up to the Bronx to take on MLS cup champs NYCFC, a rematch of the 2021 eastern conference final.
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych