Match Report: Union Earn Playoff Spot with 4-1 Win
The Union entered their mid-week matchup with the playoffs on their mind. A win against Atlanta would ensure that the Boys in Blue would be playing passed the regular season finale. Check out our Match Summary from the big night!
Gutman, Franco, Purata
Sosa, Ibarra, Araujo
Wiley, Almada, Lennon
Mbaizo, Glesnes, Elliott, Wagner
Bedoya, Martinez, Flach, Gazdag
First Half Summary
The first 15 minutes didn't have much action, but there was certainly a physical presence on the field. Atlanta did well to press Philly during their attacks, which made their pushes at net far less exciting than one would hope.
The best chance Philly had in the first quarter of the match came in the 12th minute. A great ball was sent into the box, and Ale was able to bring it down by the penalty spot. The Captain tried firing a left-footed shot, but the visiting defenders did well to keep their goalie unbothered.
Union did well to survive the first 15 minutes, and after the Atlanta Coach earned a yellow, Philly would strike first. Mikael controlled the ball at the top of the box, and he found Julian to his left. The new fan favorite took a left-footed strike, and his rolling shot found the far corner of the net. Even after looking a bit out of sorts, the Union found a way to punish their opponent on the attack. Well done!
Unfortunately for Philly, their lead would not last very long. Atlanta pushed their way into the box, which led to two chances at net. The first was blocked by a defender, while the second took a deflection off Blake. Gutman was at the right place at the right time, and his diving header tied the match 1-1.
Just before the 40th minute, the Union came inches from scoring. Carranza sent a ball across the field to Uhre, who calmly fed Daniel by the penalty spot. Unfortunately, Gazdag appeared to get tripped up on the ball, and he stumbled a chance toward net. The ball trickled its way to the goal, but a diving effort from an Atlanta defender kept the game tied 1-1.
The fourth official showed 4 minutes of stoppage time, and that's all that Philly needed to retake the lead. Kai Wagner's corner kick found its way across the box, and Mikael Uhre fired a strong shot at net. The ball ricocheted off an Atlanta defender, and then firmly into the back of the net. 2-1 Philly as they closed up the half!
Second Half Summary
The first ten minutes of the half were fairly quiet. Mikael Uhre earned a yellow card after taking down Ibarra and then getting into his face. Philly then began to put pressure on the defense. Carranza and Bedoya both had quality chances at net, and Philly was beginning to settle into their offense as the hour mark approached.
Small note about Olivier Mbaizo. Once he reclaimed his spot from Nathan, the right back has quickly found his rhythm. We all knew his offensive abilities, but he has become much more reliable on the defense. It will be hard for Harriel to retake his spot with Olivier playing so well.
Both teams made changes after the 60th minute mark. Atlanta's Josef Martinez and Philly's Cory Burke joined the match. Burke replaced Uhre.
Burke and company would soon deliver. Brujo sent a high cross into the box, which was sent even higher by Julian's header. Cory Burke leaped and collided with two Atlanta players, but his head made contact with the ball. Daniel found the ball at his feet in the box, and he easily put the Union up 3-1. What a finishing blow for Philly, who looked like they were going to be walking away with three more points. Additionally, Gazdag's 17th goal earned him the single-season scoring record for a Union player. Congrats, Daniel!
The two teams continued their back and forth, and things soon got chippy. Dwyer appeared to be displeased with Brujo, and he stormed toward Jose. Brujo was shoved backwards, but Jose sent his own push and words toward Dwyer. The two would need to be separated, and the lead official quickly showed them each a card.
The Union continued their pressure into the last ten minutes of the game, and even Leon had himself a great chance at net. Curtin then brought on his final two subs as stoppage time approached. McGlynn and Paxten replaced Alejandro and Julian, both of whom received a loud applause.
Just when you thought the night was over, Nathan Harriel joined the party. Paxten found himself in the box with space, and he fed the ball to Harriel. His initial shot took a deflection, but he sent the rebound into the back of the net for his first MLS Goal. It also ended a four year drought since a Union right back scored. Great moment for the Homegrown, and the cherry on top for the Union's playoff clinching victory!
Next up, the Union travel up north to visit the New York Red Bull on Saturday evening, 7pm. Doop!
- Mike Barrera (mbarrera1323)