Photo Cred: Paul Frenzel with AATSports
The Regular Season has finally come to a close, and the Union finished off their 2021 campaign at Yankee Stadium. Although the Union are Playoff Bound, this match had huge implications into seeding. AATSports brought you the coverage, check it out below!
Wagner, Elliott, Glesnes, Mbaizo
Flach, Martinez, Bedoya
Amundsen, Callens, Chant, Sands
Rodriguez, Moralez, Medina
First Half Summary
I've seen this field numerous times, but I still can't get over how small it looks.
After eight minutes of back and forth, NYCFC earned their first corner kick. The cross came in from the right of Andre Blake, but the connecting header sailed well over the crossbar.
The first chippy play between the Eastern Conference foes came just after the 10th minute. Castellanos was trying to steal the ball from Brujo, but he dove aggressively toward Jose, cleats up. Martinez was fortunate to avoid any contact, and the ref gave Castellanos a talking to.
The Union's first scoring chance came in the 17th minute. Kai sent a great pass to Kacper, who laid it off to Gazdag. Unfortunately, Daniel's shot went right of the post, and Johnson wasn't forced to make a save. Nice chance though for Philly.
The first yellow card came in the 21st minute. Zelalem was late on a challenge, and his right spike caught the calf of Leon's leg. Flach went down in pain, and the official quickly issued a yellow. VAR was then announced, and the head official changed his decision to a red card! What a break for Philly.
Glesnes was then issued a yellow card in the 25th. He had a strong shoulder barge after a Philly set piece, which was quickly responded with a card. Looks like the ref was trying to calm the match down a bit here.
The Union took advantage of the extra man. Olivier sent a great cross into the box, and although Kacper was the first player in the way of the pass, he let the ball go to Leon by the far post. Flach then sent the ball back to Przybylko, who easily put the ball into the back of the net. Thankfully, I had put an AnyTime Scorer bet on Kacper at +280. Thank you KP!!
The cards continued to come from the head official. Kai leaped into the air for a ball, and he accidentally collided with an NYC player. Although a harsh call, the ref quickly showed a yellow to Wagner. Not sure what Kai could have done to avoid the contact.
Philly continued to do well with controlling the ball, and their next best chance came from Leon Flach. He found the ball at his feet in the center of the box, but he completely whiffed with his left foot. That would have been extremely difficult for Johnson to save, quite the break for NYC.
The first half ended with a bit of a scare for Philly. Olivier dropped to the ground in stoppage time, as it appeared that his foot had been clipped from behind. Mbaizo ultimately got off the ground, but then Kai was the next injured Philly player. Kai went up for a header, but Morales got underneath Wagner. He came up gingerly, but fortunately he too was able to continue. The whistle was heard, and Philly went into the locker room up a goal, and up a man.
Second Half Summary
A great defensive moment came in the 48th minute. NYCFC was forcing the ball into the box, but Ale timed a dive perfectly, sending the ball out for a corner. The cross was then redirected toward Andre, but he made a great save to his left. Even with a man up, the Union were starting the half by giving NY a few close chances.
Another yellow card for Philly in the 50th minute. Brujo brought down an NYC player from the side, and although it didn't seem to be too hard of a foul, the head official gave Jose the yellow.
As I mentioned above, Philly was making it too easy for NYCFC. Glesnes was unable to clear a ball far enough with his head, and an NY cross came in from Kai's side of the field. It sailed across the box, and Castellanos jumped over Mbaizo, sending it passed Blake. Awful moment for a team who played so well in the first half, 1-1.
Two subs were brought onto the field in the 66th minute. McGlynn replaced Flach, and Paxten relieved Daniel Gazdag. Considering the moment, Jim very clearly trusts his homegrown products to perform in a high-pressure situation.
The Union began to settle into the half, and although both teams had some movement into the final third, neither goalie was tested. At this point, Nashville and New York were also even 1-1, with both matches only a few minutes apart.
Johnson was tested in the 80th minute. Philly's counter attack ultimately gave Miro a left footed strike from the top of the box, but he wasn't able to curve it enough to pass the keeper. Regardless, good chance from the U.
The next sub came in the 81st. Burke replaced Kacper.
The back and forth continued, and Philly fans held their breath as the 1-1 draw in Nashville was given 4 minutes of stoppage time. Fortunately, that match was finally called, and Union just had to hold onto the draw to claim second place.
Miro was the next player taken off the field, as he was replaced by Bueno in stoppage.
NYCFC then earned a final set piece, but Glesnes was able to send it out of trouble. The final whistle blew, and the Union secured the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Next up, they will host the New York Red Bulls in the first round. In what has been a chaotic season, the CCL Semi-finalists should be proud of where they ended the Regular Season!
- Mike Barrera (mbarrera1323)