Photo Cred: Jose Nunez of AAT Sports Network
Flach, Gazdag, Martinez
Wagner, Lowe, Elliott, Glesnes, Mbaizo
Boateng, Gil, Buck
Jones, Romney, Farrell, Bye
First Half Summary
Before the Union took the field, we had a familiar face hitting the drum before the match. Former Union Center back Stu Findlay was in the building! Despite limited playing time, his locker room presence and efforts on the field made him a fan favorite. We know that Stu enjoyed his time in Philadelphia, so it's good to see him back in the area catching up with his old crew.
The notable absence from the Union lineup was their captain, Alejandro Bedoya. After the match, Coach Curtin said that Ale had injured his quad during training. The results show that it is a grade 1 strain, which is the best scenario for Philly, but Jim did not want to put a time table on Ale's return.
Philly went with three in the back, and early on Leon Flach made his presence felt. Throughout the season, Leon has received a fair amount of criticism from fans (by us as well). His offensive woes have been brought to light in key moments, and even his defensive abilities have been questioned, particularly when playing as the 6 in the diamond. Tonight, however, he was paired with Jose Martinez in front of the stout back line. Jim Curtin highlighted the first 20 minutes from Leon, and I can see why. He was active defensively with his pressure, completed simple passes, and started a strong attack in the 12th minute. Leon perfectly intercepted a pass in the Union half and single-handedly brought the ball to the edge of the Revolution box. Leon's deflected shot then gave Daniel a shot that forced Petrovic into a save. After the keeper's punch out, Flach recovered the ball and gave Olivier a chance to complete a cross. Although it did not end in a goal, this sequence was exactly what you want from Flach. Creating turnovers and starting the counter.
As a whole, the Union were looking more energetic and more comfortable compared to Wednesday night. With that said, it still felt like their final touch was just a little bit off. Curtin highlighted this as well in the post match press conference. Philly looked better, but still has some work to do in finishing their chances and creating goal scoring opportunities.
A notable injury came in the first half. Carles Gil was removed from the match in the 35th minute. Although you never want to see an injury, the Revs losing one of their key pieces would be very important for the Union's chances to earn three points.
Second Half Summary
The first half ended 0-0, but the Union dd not wait long to get themselves on the board. The first goal of the night came in the 56th minute from Daniel Gazdag, but let's give credit where it's due. Jose Martinez was very involved this evening, especially moving toward goal. Curtin mentioned the trust that Jose and Leon had in the back line of Lowe, Elliott, and Glesnes. Knowing that those three could hold down the fort allowed Martinez to be braver toward net. Before the goal, Martinez had an excellent tackle to initiate the attack. Even though the ball went out for a throw, Union continued their push. Uhre quickly found Daniel, and his one-time strike beat Petrovic. In the post match presser, Coach emphasized the importance of a quick throw at that moment, and hopes for the Union to make that a habit. If you recall from last season, the Union were assisted by Throw In specialist Thomas Gronnemark, who we also interviewed on Across the Pitch (Can watch that Interview Here). This assist from Mikael had Thomas' name written all over it!
The Revolution would make a handful of changes but the Union would continue their attack. In the 74th minute, Mikael Uhre was clearly brought down in the box by Farrell. Philly's PK Specialist stepped up to the plate, and Gazdag snagged the 2nd goal of the night. Mikael had earned an assist but also played 80 minutes on the night. We know Curtin has been quick to replace Uhre around the 60th minute, but without Quinn Sullivan, our Forward depth is limited. Furthermore, Mikael is still recovering from having his knee drained. Seeing Uhre performing for nearly a full match is a promising sign for his health.
Although Bueno and Real would replace Daniel and Wagner in the final moments of the match, the key sub tonight was Chris Donovan. He replaced Uhre and made his presence felt in the 88th minute. After forcing a turnover, Chris and Julian were off to the races against Farrell. Donovan then split the legs of Farrell and laid a perfectly placed ball to Julian. Carranza brought the Union lead to 3-0! Donovan has been another player to receive a lot of criticism, but he did well to make the most of his moment tonight.
Stoppage time eventually came to an end, and the Philadelphia Union earned their 7th point in the last 3 matches. Furthermore, they brought their MLS Unbeaten Streak to 6 straight games and placed themselves just four points behind 2nd place. Curtin's willingness to be flexible with the lineup and formation paid off tonight. It was the performance the fans have been waiting for, and it gave us a glimpse of what the Union were in 2022, and what they could be this season.
Next up, Philly travels North to face NYCFC. DOOP!
- Mike Barrera (Mbarrera1323)