Union clinch playoffs with five matches to play in 4-1 blowout vs Atlanta

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The Philadelphia Union booked their spot in the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs on the final night in August! A 4-1 win over Atlanta sees Philly clinch their spot with five matches still to play in their season! This game was a bit closer than some in the past two months, but Philadelphia’s quality shone through to get yet another blowout win.

Union
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 4-1 Atlanta

The Union has had nothing but success at home this season. They are still undefeated at Subaru Park, and with only two home matches left, it’s looking like they could just go a full 34-game season undefeated at home. In this match against Atlanta, we saw how this Philly team is not just a good team, not just a great team, but they are an elite MLS side!

1st Half

This game started off differently for the Union than the last few matches had. Philly played the same XI as their weekend rout of Colorado. Atlanta saw this and decided to sit deep and force the Union to spread themselves thin to expose counter-attacking possibilities. It frustrated the Union for the first 15 minutes, but their front three are inevitable right now.

Just before the 20th minute, Philly had a good build-up where all three of their front three touched the ball. Gazdag won a reworked ball near Atlanta’s box. He played Uhre who drew players’ attention, and then played a ball back to Carranza just outside the Atlanta box. Carranza took a touch and fired a low shot through three Atlanta players that beat the goalkeeper and nestled ever so nicely in the bottom left corner. It was 1-0 Union in the 18th minute, but Atlanta wouldn’t go without a fight.

Just seven minutes later Atlanta equalized. Philly got a little cute trying to play out of the back which led to a turnover. Andre Blake stoned a good shot, but no Union players were around to clear the rebound and Andrew Gutman was able to dive to get a header in to tie the match. In years past, Philly would have folded after this letdown, but this version of the Union does not fold under pressure.

As the match crept toward halftime, Philly was pushing to get back ahead. In stoppage time they won a corner; Kai Wagner played in a dangerous ball into the box that skipped past an onrushing Alejandro Bedoya. The ball rolled all the way across the box toward Mikael Uhre. Uhre tried to hit the ball with the outside of his right foot to curl it to the left corner, but it took a wicked deflection en route to the goal. That deflection made the ball swerve toward the near post and sneak in. Philly had the lead going into halftime and wouldn’t look back after that!

2nd Half

In the second half, Philly kept Atlanta at bay while also pushing for a third goal. That goal would eventually come, but not until the home side made their normal substitution. In the 63rd minute, the 2022 super-sub Cory Burke came in. He’s been on fire for the last two months in limited minutes off the bench, and he made yet another impact in this game to help ice it.

Four minutes after Burke came on, Philly reworked an attack on the right flank that saw Jose Martinez put in a delicious cross. Carranza tried to get a head on it, but it popped straight up in the air. This allowed for a 50-50 ball between Burke and an Atlanta defender. Both went up for the ball, but Atlanta’s keeper also came off his line. The two Atlanta players collided with Burke, who had a touch on the ball but it didn’t go goalwards. Instead, the ball fell right to a wide-open Daniel Gazdag who thumped home the chance! It was 3-1 Union, and the result was sealed.

Up 3-1, Philly brought on homegrowns, Nathan Harriel, Paxten Aaronson, and Jack McGlynn. While Harriel only played 18 minutes, and Aaronson and McGlynn came in at minute 90. They all still had an impact on this game!

In the third minute of second-half stoppage time. Philly had another attack. McGlynn played Aaronson into a place where he could get a close-range cross. Aaronson was looking for Burke with the cross but it was denied. However, the ball fell to Harriel who had made an underlapping run into the box. His first touch seemed to hit an Atlanta player, but rather than complain the homegrown right back followed the ball and thumped it into the net to get his first ever goal, and secure the Union’s 4-1 victory!

This match was one with a playoff spot on the line for Philly against a struggling eastern conference foe. These types of games used to be trapped for the Union teams of the past; now, Philly sees what needs to be done, does it, and exceeds expectations while doing it. This team is truly remarkable and we’ll see how much more success this team can achieve!

Three Takeaways

Another match at home; another blowout win for this Union team! Here’s a look at three major takeaways from this game!

1. Playoff spot secured with five matches still to play!

The Philadelphia Union will be in the playoffs in 2022. They are the second fastest team to clinch a spot this season as LAFC did so a few weeks ago. Now with five games left to play in the regular season, Philly will look to keep their top spot in the east, while vying for the top spot in all of MLS.

Could we possibly see this Union team make a late-season run toward a historic end to the 2022 season?

2. Gazdag breaks Union’s single-season goal-scoring record with his 17th goal!

After years of struggling offensive output, there is a new single-season goal-scoring record holder for the Boys in Blue. Daniel Gazdag has broken CJ Sapong’s record by scoring his 17th goal of the 2022 season. It is truly a remarkable feat as Daniel Gazdag is a 10 and not an out-and-out striker. His combination play and clever runs have allowed him to break this record.

Now let’s see how many more goals he can score this season!

3. Your defense is terrified, the Union’s on fire!

This Union team has been scoring in bunches over the past two months. Against Atlanta, Gazdag got his 17th goal, Carranza got his 14th, and Uhre got his 10th! This team is damn good and made some history in this match against Atlanta. Philly is the third team in MLS history to score four goals in four straight home matches. LAFC had five straight in 2019, and LA Galaxy had four straight in 2015. Philadelphia is also the second team in MLS history to score four goals in three straight matches. The only other team to do that was the Red Bulls side in 2012.

We’ll see what kind of history this team can produce on the weekend that can top these last two games!

A BONUS TAKEAWAY

All of the other matches on Wednesday night that needed to go Philly’s way, went Philly’s way. Montreal lost to Red Bulls; NYCFC lost to DC; LAFC lost to Houston; Austin lost to Portland. This means that the Union is eight points up on 2nd place Montreal in the east, 10 points above 3rd place New York Red Bulls, and 12 points above NYCFC.

The east is all but won; oh and also, PHILLY IS NOW TIED WITH LAFC IN THE SUPPORTERS’ SHIELD STANDINGS ON 57 POINTS!!! They also hold a six-point lead over the challengers below them Austin FC. Are we witnessing the improbable come to life before our very eyes?

Relive the action

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Doop on Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire

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