The first place Union welcomed another visitor to Subaru Park, as they faced off against the Columbus Crew for the first time on this young season. I was in Chester for the match, and you can check out our report for AAT Sports Network below!
Harriel, Glesnes, Elliott, Wagner
Bedoya, Martinez, Flach, Gazdag
Moreira, Mensah, Degenek, Santos
Yeboah, Zelarayan, Etienne Jr.
First Half Summary
The Union came into this match in first place, but this would certainly be one of their toughest contests of the season. The Crew have always been a difficult opponent for the Union, but last year Philly proved to be the better squad. They won two of three games, and did not allow the Crew to score against them all season.
Well....the Union did not wait long to get themselves on the board. Mikael Uhre absorbed a foul within the first few seconds, which led to an early free kick for Philly. The cross ultimately found the feet of Jose Martinez, who stormed down the far right side of the pitch. He then sailed a high shot toward Room, who inexplicably dropped the routine catch. Unlucky for the Crew, who watched the ball trickle into the net. What an amazing start for Philly, and you can check out my footage from the goal below.
We had another scoring chance in the 14th minute. The Union did a nice job to possess the ball and be patient. This ultimately led to a corner kick, which found the head of the team's newest star, Nathan Harriel. Unfortunately for Nathan, his header was just wide of the net, but another great moment for this team on the offensive end of the pitch.
Just a quick note about the atmosphere. The River End was electric from the moment the whistle blew, and they sarcastically cheered on Room throughout the first few minutes. Overall, the energy in Subaru Park was excellent!
The Union's offense continued to look dangerous, and they could have easily made it 2-0 in the 23rd minute. Philly forced a turnover, which led to numbers against the Crew defense. Bedoya then sent a cross to Carranza, whose blocked shock ricocheted to the center of the box. Gazdag and Uhre were both within striking distance, but ultimately Daniel took the shot. Room came up with a big save, but that was a point blank chance that you needed to capitalize on.
Columbus began to settle into the match a bit more, which led to a few dangerous pushes toward Blake. The defense was just spectacular though for Philly. Anytime you thought the Crew was going to get a shot off, the backline was there to put out the fire. They've really been a huge difference this season, and have been very stout in front of Andre.
As I typed that above paragraph, the Crew get a strong shot at Blake in the 39th minute. It was a low and hard strike from the left side of Andre, but he quickly dropped to the ground and secured the ball.
Andre Blake made another save right before stoppage time, but this one came at a cost. The Crew earned a free kick from just outside the box, and a great shot forced Blake to leap for the fingertip save. Unfortunately, Andre"s left shoulder caught the near post and he immediately grabbed for his left arm. Subaru Park went quiet, but then let out a sigh of relief when Blake finally stood up and continued to play.
The whistle finally blew, and Philly was able to enter the break healthy and up a goal.
Second Half Summary
Not what you wanted to see during halftime. Matt Freese came out of the tunnel much sooner than you'd want, and he began to warm up before the rest of the club joined him on the field. Thankfully, Blake soon walked right into his net and began to warm up. Another relief for Union fans, as we absolutely need Andre between the posts.
Columbus came out ready to roll, and they made sure to test Andre early. Just from watching Blake move, you wouldn't expect that he was dealing with any form of discomfort. We shall see though later this week.
The Union's offense began to get their feet under them in the 52nd minute. Bedoya and Carranza both forced Room into a save, and Uhre even had a chance at net (although he sailed it over the goal). Regardless, it was good to see Philly get out of their own half for a few moments.
The first substitution from Curtin came in the 62nd minute. Carranza was replaced by Cory Burke, which gave Philly fans a chance to see Mikael Uhre for a bit longer.
The next ten minutes proved to be quiet overall, but Columbus was beginning to figure out ways to get open chances. One of those opportunities just barely missed hitting the far post and going in. We all knew this was going to be a tough test against Columbus, but the fans were growing restless knowing they only had a one goal lead.
The next sub came in the 76th minute, when Uhre was removed by Sullivan. Considering Quinn doesn't typically play up top, I was a bit surprised. That said, Sullivan did just have a good scoring performance for the US Youth National Team. After the match, Curtin called Quinn a Swiss Army Knife, who could play well in multiple spots. That seems to suggest that Sullivan may continue to be a consistent reserve off the bench.
Philly could not seem to buy their second goal. Around the 80th minute, Burke forced an excellent turnover and drove the ball into the box. He then passed it to a wide open Daniel Gazdag, who had his shot blocked by Room. Despite several golden opportunities in the game, Philly was unable to put the nail in the coffin.
The third substitution for Philly came in the 90th minute. Gazdag was replaced by young Paxten Aaronson. The ref then declared for four minutes of stoppage time. The Crew had one last chance to get the tying goal, as they earned a corner kick in the final seconds. Thankfully, all danger was avoided, the final whistle blew, and Union kept their spot in first place!
We hope you can join us again next week, as the Union take on Toronto FC on the road. DOOP!
- Mike Barrera (mbarrera1323)