Union looks like a first-place team once again in dominant win at Portland

Late on Sunday night, the Philadelphia Union got back to their winning ways beating Portland Timbers 2-0. It was an overall great performance by Philly, who looked like the first-place team they are. Goals from Daniel Gazdag and Sergio Santos downed the Timbers in Philadelphia’s first-ever win at Portland.

PORTLAND, OR – MAY 22: Philadelphia Union midfielder Daniel Gazdag (6) celebrates his goal with Alejandro Bedoya (11) during an MLS match between the Philadelphia Union and the Portland Timbers on May 22, 2022, at Providence Park in Portland, OR. (Photo by Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire).

Union Gets First-Ever Win at Portland

Philadelphia played one of, if not the most, dominant game of their 2022 season at Porltand this past weekend. This domination isn’t in terms of controlling the ball for long stretches of the game; it’s shown by their ability to give the opposition little-to-no-rest and playing a very direct style. When Philly won the ball off of Portland they were quick to make passes up the field to unsettle Portland. Many of these passes went down the right flank, and gave the opportunity for Nate Harriel’s long-throw ability.

Harriel was able to send long-throw-ins into the Portland box, and just five minutes into the game, Philly had the first goal of the match. Harriel threw the ball into the Portland box at the near post. Ale Bedoya was first to the ball and flicked it toward the back post. He was looking for the run of Gazdag, but the Hungarian over ran the ball. Seeing this, Gazdag leapt into the air and hit a picture perfect bicycle kick past Portland’s keeper. It almost looked like Portland was not expecting the effort, but Gazdag gave the Union the early lead.

Philly held that lead to halftime, and was ready to show they could put some demons to rest. That demon being the game’s second goal, which the Union had failed to get after taking leads in six previous matches this season. Philly came out in the second half with intensity, and a willingness to push for the second goal. It came in the 48th minute after a reworked set piece was sent into the box by Kai Wagner. The cross was perfect, and found the leap of Sergio Santos who directed it to Portland’s back post. Philly had the 2-0 lead, and was set defensively for the rest of the game.

After the goal, The Union brought on Aaronson for Santos (who looked to have injured himself again after his goal) and Burke on for Carranza. Carranza was booked for “time wasting” while walking slowly off the pitch, it was his fifth yellow card of the season, prompting a one game suspension. We’ll see if the Union try to have that card recinded as Carranza never stopped walking off the field to waste time. As the match progressed, a frustrated Porltand pushed for a goal, but failed to get one by Andre Blake who had a phenomenal game. The Union took all three points back home with them, and looked like a first-place team once again.

Three Takeaways

1. Getting back to Winning Ways

This was the type of performance that the Union had been looking for in the past few weeks. After drawing five in a row, a win on the road at a place like Portland feels like it could right the ship for the Union. Could this be the end to a Spring slump? Only time will tell, but it’s clear what this performance meant to the group. With one game to play before an international break, it could be the start of the season long quest for MLS Cup and maybe even more.

2. Gazdag For MVP

On this quest so far, Daniel Gazdag has been the MVP of this Union team. With seven goals and two assists Gazdag has been the reason why the Union are where they are in the standings. Philly has been in first-place for 9 of the 13 weeks of the 2022 season, and Gazdag’s ability to be goal dangerous is keeping them there. This team may have an elite goalkeeper and defense, and a unrelenting midfield; now, it looks like they have a true goal scorer as well. Shouts to Zach LoBasso for saying he’d be an MVP candidate before the season even started!

3. This Performance = The Union Way

With one week until an international break, Philly has a chance to hold first place in the east while also staying in the hunt for the Supporters Shield. This type of result against Portland is the blueprint to how the Union want to play, and how they can win silverware in 2022. As they progress into the final two-thirds of the season, the Union will need to their intensity up while also continuing their defensive excelense. If this team can improve their home record, this could legitimately be a double contender (Supporters’ Shiled and MLS Cup.) We’ll have to see if they are up to the challenge!

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Mandatory Credit: Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire