Heavily Rotated Union Squad Falls to FC Cincinnati 1-0

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

In yet another close-fought match, the Philadelphia Union fell to FC Cincinnati by a score of 1-0 on Saturday night at the TQL Stadium. The Boys in Blue were coming off of a tightly contested win against Atlas in the Concacaf Champions League, where a late Daniel Gazdag penalty was needed to seal the deal. It was yet another penalty that decided the match against Pat Noonan’s side, but unfortunately, it was one that Luciano Acosta slotted home.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Union @ FCC Recap

While the match was for sure a disappointing loss for the team, it was one that could have been seen with the upcoming match that the Union has. They will be taking on Atlas on Wednesday night in the second leg, so Jim Curtin rotated his normal starting eleven, and there were some new faces in it. 

A Heavily Rotated Starting XI

As stated previously, Jim Curtin rotated his squad for the match, and he also used a new formation for it. Curtin decided to go with a 3-5-2 look with the following players:

Blake, Harriel, Elliott, Glesnes, Real, Mbaizo, Flach, Martinez, Bueno, Sullivan, and Donovan.

Matt Real and Olivier Mbaizo acted as the wing backs on the night, while Nathan Harriel, Jack Elliott, and Jakob Glesnes held the back line. Leon Flach, Jose Martinez, and Jesus Bueno were the three midfield pieces, while Quinn Sullivan and Chris Donovan were partners up top. In this match, Quinn Sullivan was making his first start in the 2023 MLS season, while Jesus Bueno was making his first-ever start for the senior squad.  

Slow First Half

It was for sure a slow start to the match on Saturday, as the first half ended with a score of 0-0. Neither did have many chances, as was evident with the expected goals from each team. The Union had an expected goal number of 0.07, while FC Cincinnati had an expected goal of 0.16.

When it came to possession, FC Cincinnati dominated the first half possession, which could be the fact that the Union had a lot of newer players in the starting eleven who were not familiar with each other. This caused a lot of missed passes to occur, and also the team was not able to develop a lot of attacking chances. 

Second Half Drama

The second half started off well for the Union, as they were able to develop a good opportunity with the Jesus Bueno shot that went off target. This was easily the best chance of the match for the team, and FC Cincinnati would soon wake up from it. In the 69th minute, Luciano Acosta would score from the penalty spot to give the home team a 1-0 lead, but that was after some drama ensued on the pitch.

Prior to the penalty being taken, FC Cincy striker Brenner was able to put the ball in the back of the net after a Jakob Glesnes goal-line clearance. After the celebration, it was shown that referee Ted Unkel blew the whistle for a penalty prior to the goal, which means that Brenner’s goal would not stand and Cincinnati would have a penalty. It did not matter as Acosta shot it past Blake to make it a 1-0 scoreline. 

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

All Eyes on Wednesday

The main reason for the rotated squad was the fact that the Union will be facing Atlas in Guadalajara on Wednesday night in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League. The Union will be going into the match with a 1-0 aggregate lead, which is a lead that the club should not find comfortable. Atlas is a high-quality team who could put one in the back of the net at any given time, so Wednesday is going to be a highly intense match. But something to look at is the fact that Atlas will be missing two players due to suspension: Anderson Santamaria (red card) and Jose Abella (yellow card accumulation). 

The Union will look to rebound from this loss as they head to Guadalajara on Wednesday night to face Atlas. They will be looking to move onto the Concacaf Champions League semifinals for the first time since 2021, where they fell to Club America by a 4-0 aggregate. Jim Curtin’s side will most definitely be a stronger one, as all the healthy usuals should be back in their starting roles. Kickoff for Wednesday’s match will be at 10 PM EST, and what a good one it will be!

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union