The first place Union went to third place Red Bulls and put on a dominating road performance winning 2-0. Philly showcased their adaptability en route to another stellar win that puts them on top of the entire league for the moment!
Union 2 – 1 Red Bull
Philly is the best team in MLS, and this win at Red bull shows just why. The team sheet showed four changes: Cory Burke, Matt Real, Jack McGlynn, and Nathan Harriel came in for Julian Carranza, Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya, and Olivier Mbaizo. After the game, we found out that two of these four changes were made on the team walk to the stadium.
Jim Curtin found out that Martinez and Bedoya weren’t 100% fit on the way to the game. This prompted Matt Real and Jack McGlynn to get last-minute starts, and Leon Flach to shift to the six-role. The team’s adaptability and depth showed through and Philly would get a 2-0 win!
The match began in a frantic fashion. Both teams wanted to showcase to control the match without the ball. This meant that the press was heavily utilized, and challenges were flying in with little regard for the outcome. Neither side was able to build with the ball much at all. When Red Bull had it they looked to play quickly over the top while Philly was further up the field, it didn’t yield too many clear-cut chances, but it did force Andre Blake to make one outstanding stop at point blank range.
Philly was able to be a bit more fluid with the ball. They made short quick passes to try and beat the Red Bulls’ press. It worked a bit, but they couldn’t find the open space or open man in the attacking third fast enough. A lot of chippy plays were the main result of the first half. Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliot, and Cory Burke all had yellow cards in the first half. As the game swung to the second, Philly came out firing taking a bit of a different approach.
In the second half, The Union was able to find more spaces moving forward by actually taking some more time on the ball. In the first half, they were concerned with quick touches and passes to try and beat onrushing Red Bull players. In the second half, Philly took the time and found the open space even while being pressured.
Three minutes into the second half, this was on full display in the work of Jack McGlynn. He was able to take a touch around some Red Bull pressure and had time to advance up the field and look for the run of his teammates. This allowed him to play Mikael Uhre in on goal, and the Danish striker hit a beautifully placed first-time shot into the net to give Philly the 1-0 lead. As the half went on this type of play only got better from Philly.
In the 58th minute Carranza and Bedoya came on for Burke and Real and this Union team ramped up the intensity. The Union was just about back to “full strength” when these subs came in, and after getting a bit acclimated to the game, the top front three in MLS produced a moment of brilliance.
Philly’s press was on when Red Bull tried to play out of the back; Carranza forced a turnover that fell right to Uhre. Uhre played a one-touch ball back to Carranza, and he saw Gazdag streaking into the box. A perfect pass to the Hungarian gave him enough time to settle the ball, force the keeper out to get the angle on him, and slot in his 18th goal of the season! It was 2-0 in the 74th minute, and Red Bull was finished.
Philly won this match in an interesting fashion, and put themselves in a great spot to win the eastern conference and now lead the Supporters’ Shield standings!
The Union took a different approach to this game in than they had in their previous few matches, but the result was still the same. This Union team is something else, and they’re on the verge of something very special!
1. Adaptability under pressure
With forced changes for Jim Curtin’s side, they didn’t play like a team with surprise changes. Each player stepped into the role that was needed and performed like they were starters. This team is a collective unit, that Curtin and Tanner have created this ethos in this club that the collective is more important than individual success. Every single player inside the Union has bought into this ethos, and it’s paying dividends.
There’s so much more to look at about this, and we have in past articles (ESPECIALLY THIS ONE), but the 2022 version of the Union looks to be the culmination of all that Curtin, Tanner, and even part-owner Richie Graham helped to cultivate.
2. An outstanding away fan presence
Speaking of a culmination of greatness! I have to give a huge shoutout to the traveling Union fans. They brought major energy to the match and it truly pushed the Union to get the result they needed while a bit shorthanded. The giant group of Union fans in the second deck could be heard more on the New York Red Bulls broadcast than the home supporters section.
On top of this, there were reports from some fans at the match that spoke to the cooperation between the two Union supporters groups the Sons of Ben and the Keystone State Ultras. The two were working jointly to connect the giant grouping of Union fans in chants and brought the noise! There’s nothing like team success to bring groups together; hopefully, we’ll see more of this at Union home games as well as the limited other road matches!
3. Pushing for the Shield
The Union is now three points clear of LAFC in the Supporters Shield race. Philly is the first team to crack 60 points on the 2022 season; LAFC can crack that tonight as well, but the pressure that is on them is now immense. The run that Philadelphia is on is a historic one, and LAFC’s faltering form could make for a chance of a double for Philly.
LAFC play tonight at 10:30 pm vs Real Salt Lake. If they should fail to get three points, Philly will end the week with the outright lead in the Supporters’ Shield standings. Los Angeles does have a game in hand that will be played in a few weeks, but the race is definitely on with four match weeks left to play!
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Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire