For the second time in four weeks, the Philadelphia Union produced a blowout win at home. Back on July 8th, it was a 7-0 beat down of DC United; 12 days later it was a 6-0 battering of the Houston Dynamo! Philadelphia is on a five-game win streak, which sees them three points ahead of NYCFC to top the east, and three points behind LAFC in the Supporters’ Shield standings. This team is beginning to show some very special qualities.
Union blast six past Houston
This Philadelphia team is starting to show their quality in all aspects of the game. The team has an elite defense giving up only 15 goals in 23 matches. They’re pushing for the record of least goals allowed in MLS history (record held by RSL for only allowing 20 goals in 30 matches) with 11 matches left in the 2022 season. To go along with what could be a historic defense, the Union’s attack is clicking as of late. The team has scored 18 goals in their last five matches, spearheaded by their front three of Uhre-Carranza-Gazdag.
The 2022 Philadelphia Union is entering a level that can only be matched by what the 2020 team did in the shortened season. An unbeaten record at home, pushing for a Supporters’ Shield, while also showing they are the most complete team in club history has them on the verge of doing something very special. Before we too far down that rabbit hole, let’s look back on the 6-0 thrashing of Houston!
With Jose “El Brujo” Martinez being suspended, the Union had to move some players around in the midfield. Leon Flach dropped to the six spot, and Jack McGlynn stayed in the starting 11 on the left side of the midfield diamond. Ale Bedoya came back in after he served his suspension, and Olivier Mbaizo kept his spot at right back solidifying the right side of the field. It wouldn’t take long to see that this Union team would dominate the night.
Houston X-factor, Darwin Quintero started the match on the bench as Houston tried to surprise Philly with a changed formation. It did surprise the Union, but they were able to adapt to the change quickly by keeping more of the ball. Philadelphia is usually a counter-pressing side but were able to change their style and it resulted in utter domination of the game.
Inside the first 25 minutes, the match was flowing Philly’s way. The hosts thought they had won a PK, but VAR took that away from them in the 20th minute. Two minutes later they worked the ball down the field with beautiful passes and found the game’s first goal through Daniel Gazdag. It looked as if the match would stay 1-0 heading into halftime, but Philly kept the pressure high at the end of the half.
Jack McGlynn was able to take and make a perfect free kick in the 42nd minute. His cultured left foot and eye for the perfect pass or shot far exceed his 19 years. This was evident with his passing on the night, and also this goal. It’s one hell of a way to get his first of hopefully many for the club. Not three minutes later the Union attacked again, finding space down the right wing. Olivier Mbaizo bodied a Houston challenger and put a perfect cross to Mikael Uhre, whose first-time finish gave the Union a 3-0 lead into halftime.
Philly started the second half just as they ended the first, on the front foot. Ale Bedoya had his most impressive assist out of the three that he had on the night with a long-range-inch-perfect to a streaking Mikael Uhre. He slotted home his second goal of the match and the Union were up 4-0 just three minutes into the second half!
Not 10 minutes later, Philly would score their fifth goal. This time it was Carranza’s turn to score. He received the ball in Houston’s box and had time to completely turn around and blast a shot with his left foot to beat the Houston keeper. The Union had five goals in 55 minutes and the vibes were all the way turned up in Subaru Park.
In what ended up being the fifth-highest attended in the history of Subaru Park, fans were jubilantly watching the team’s dominant performance. A full stadium wave broke out, and made its way around the stadium three full times! In years past the wave died in the River End, but not after watching this display! Fan’s also organically started to turn on their phone flashlights and hold them in the air. It’s a great time to be a Union fan and the scoring wasn’t done yet.
Second-half substitutes, Cory Burke, Paxten Aaronson, and Quinn Sullivan wanted to get into the action late on in the match. Aaronson disposed of Houston, and Mexican National Team star Hector Herrera deep in the Houston half. He pushed the ball forward and got it to Cory Burke. He found a streaking Jack McGlynn who laid off a perfect pass to Quinn Sullivan. Sullivan blasted home the Union’s sixth and final goal of the match in the 90th minute.
The Union ended the night with six goals, 50% of the possession (which is very high for Philly), yet another clean sheet, and three more points earned, This team is looking more and more dominant each week.
The whole team played just about perfectly in this match, but there are three major takeaways from this game that could produce even more success in future matches.
1. Jack McGlynn deserves more minutes
The first surrounds a 19-year-old homegrown that should be a starter for the rest of the season. Jack McGlynn had a goal and an assist on the night; but more importantly, he is someone who is trusted to be on the ball. One thing the Union has lacked in years past is someone who can hold the ball, control the pace of the match, and make pin-point perfect passes. This is Jack McGlynn, and he allows the Union to attack down the left.
Usually, the Union attacks down the right; Bedoya holds the ball and the right back can push up to provide width. Against Houston, this happened, but it also happened on the left through McGlynn. If McGlynn starts from now on, then the Union has options in the attacking build-up that will make the opposition spread out, allowing for more lanes forward to attack.
2. Uhre, Carranza, and Gazdag are clicking
Speaking of the attack, the Union’s front three is firing on all cylinders right now. The DP strikers Mikael Uhre and Julian Carranza both have eight goals on the season, while MVP candidate Daniel Gazdag leads the team with 11 goals. That’s 27 goals in 23 games from the front three. These guys are playing on another level currently, and this bodes well for the Union’s hopes to win some silverware this season.
This front three is not only scoring, but they are combining well in the attacking buildup. There were moments where these three put multiple one-touch passes together to totally draw out the Houston defense and get in on goal. This is how the Union scored the opening goal, and it’s something to watch going forward as this chemistry keeps getting better and better.
3. Leon Flach was calm, cool, and collected at the Six
We all know how good Leon Flach is for this Philadelphia Union team, but against Houston, we saw him play what could be his most important role for this team. Flach moved back to the defensive midfielder role with Martinez out, and he was calm, cool, and collected in the position. He has been on the record saying that in the Union’s system he likes to play as a defensive-minded box-to-box midfielder, but that his ideal position is as a defensive midfielder.
Now moving forward, Union coach Jim Curtin has a decision to make. If he wants the team to have a calm head at CDM, and wants to keep McGlynn on the field, then he might have to keep Falch at the six and move Martinez to the bench. This is a tough ask as El Brujo has been one of the best CDM’s in MLS this season. It’s a tough choice, but there are so many players right now that deserve those starting minutes in Philly. We’ll have to wait and see how this goes in the final 11 matches.
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Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire