Nate Harriel to have big role for the Union in crucial clash against New England

Union nate Harriel
MONTREAL, QC – MARCH 05: Look on Philadelphia Union defender Nathan Harriel (26) during the Philadelphia Union versus the CF Montreal game on March 05, 2022, at Montreal Olympic Stadium in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire)

As everyone around Major League Soccer knows, it was announced that Union left back Kai Wagner was suspended for three matches due to using a racial slur against Bobby Wood towards the end of the first match against New England. Jim. Curtin will look for his players to step up for the match, and there is one name in particular who has an important job ahead of him. That man is Nate Harriel, who will most likely be playing left back during the time that Wagner is suspended, and maybe even in the future if Wagner does leave the club. 

Nate Harriel’s big leap

While the young right-back did have 25 appearances (20 starts) in all competitions for the club throughout the 2022 season, Harriel took a huge leap forward so far in 2023, as he has appeared in 37 matches, with 26 of them being a start. He has obviously become someone that Jim Curtin trusts in his backline, and he has earned that trust with some great efforts.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Harriel has appeared in multiple competitions for the Union this year, such as the MLS, the US Open Cup, the Leagues Cup, and the CONCACAF Champions League. Along with his top performances in the backline, Harriel has also scored four goals this season, truly showing his worth to this Union side. He has shown why Jim Curtin has trusted him to be the starting right back for the club, and also play along any position in the backline when needed. 

A tough task at hand

Harriel will have his toughest task of the season tonight, as the Union will be looking to knock off New England at Gillette Stadium, and move onto the next round of the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs, where FC Cincinnati is waiting.

This will not be an easy task for the Union either, as New England have been absolutely dominant at home this season, only losing one match at Gillette Stadium throughout the entire MLS season. In fact, the Union lost at Gillette a few weeks ago by a score of 2-1 in the last match of the regular season. 

In addition to the already hostile environment of Gillette Stadium, the Union will once again be using a makeshift backline. Jakob Glesnes is still out due to his surgery, and now Kai Wagner is suspended. This means that Damion Lowe and Jack Elliott will most likely be starting in the two center back positions, with Nate Harriel at left back and Olivier Mbaizo at right back.

This defense will have an important task in helping the Union advance, as they will look to stop New England’s Spanish midfielder, Carles Gil. Gil is the main creator and playmaker for the New England Revolution, leading the team in a number of offensive categories. Gil was taken out of the first match early due to an injury, but he is back for game two and will be looking to help New England tie the series up at one. 

All in all, it will be a tough test for Nate Harriel and the Union defense tonight, with the tough home field advantage, the makeshift defense, and with Carles Gil coming back. Harriel will also be looking to help replace the production that Kai Wagner brought to this Union squad, along with his other teammates as well. 

Match Preview 

For more information about tonight’s match, check out the match preview by Jimmy King, which can be found below.

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Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire