Photo Credit: Philadelphia Union
Costa, Judd, Boyd
Puig, Brugman, Delgado
Edwards, Mavinga, Leerdam, Calegari
Flach, Gazdag, Martinez, Bedoya
Real, Elliott, Glesnes, Mbaizo
First Half Summary
The Union had a strange and questionable lineup against Atlanta, albeit without the help of Wagner and Lowe. Against LA, however, they were more predictable with their approach. Matt Real earned the start on the left side of the back line, while Jim returned to the diamond on the road. Also, a handful of teams dropped points in the Eastern Conference, so this would be a perfect opportunity to climb the table.
It was a choppy start for the Union, as they were called for a handful of calls, highlighted by Jose Martinez. His aggressive stop of Puig gave him a yellow in the 6th minute. Considering how important Brujo is to the defense, especially without Kai, it was the last thing you wanted to see from Jose.
After Apple decided to glitch for a few moments, Union dodged a huge bullet in their box. A shot from outside the penalty area took a deflection off Judd, but his redirection sailed over the cross bar. Bendik would have been helpless there if it had been a lower touch at net.
Once again, the Union found themselves down 1-0 before the half hour mark. Puig found Delgado on the right side of the box, and his cross found Boyd in front of Glesnes. He had enough space to put a shot on goal, and it squeaked under a diving Bendik. From watching the replay, that is definitely a shot that should have been saved by Joe. We know Bendik can’t replace Andre Blake, but the Union need him to be serviceable.
Philly continued to hang on defensively and do what they could in the final third to make any form of push at goal. They finally had their moment in the 36th minute. Jakob had space and pushed his way closer to the LA box. He took a long strike at goal, which deflected off an LA defender. The ball then found the feet of Uhre, who put a quick, right-footed strike into the back of the net. Not only was this a huge moment in the match, but it gave Uhre a much-needed goal. He’s been contributing with assists recently, but Philly desperately need to get Uhre on a scoring streak.
And just when you thought the Union would enter the half with a 1-1 score, LA hit them with another blow. Stoppage time arrived and the home squad earned a corner kick. The cross went straight to the area of Mavinga and Olivier, and Joe Bendik was caught in between decisions. He didn’t come out strong enough for the deflection, and he was caught helpless when the ball took a deflection off Mbaizo. 2-1 and an absolutely terrible moment for Philly to close the half. Bendik will be rightfully criticized for both goals tonight.
Second Half Summary
Both teams caused worry for their opponent in the opening minutes of the half. A long distance shot from Costa gave Bendik a scare, and the Union’s set pieces tested Klinsman. Mavinga also took a strong shot to the back of the leg when Uhre fell on him, but he continued to play in the match after walking off the discomfort.
Curtin made a sub before the 60th minute. He replaced Matt Real with the right-footed Nathan Harriel. I was happy to see a high-energy player like Nathan thrown into the mix, especially with Real being essentially irrelevant all night. Similar to Bendik, I don’t expect Real to replicate the ability of Kai, but he was far from helpful in the attack for Philly.
Apple had another glitch before we resumed our stream during a Philly sub. McGlynn replaced Leon Flach, but I wanted to see more at that moment. Bedoya was on a yellow and Union needed as much help as they could on the offensive end. I was hoping that Quinn would have been brought in for the captain at this point.
I haven’t had issues with the MLS Season Pass stream so far this season, but tonight it was brutal. A third error in their stream left Union fans waiting for the restart. Just when the stream resumed, we saw Riqui Puig celebrating the third goal for LA. Credit to their star player for testing Bendik from outside the box and putting it perfectly under the cross bar. I don’t know if Blake saves that, but Joe didn’t stand a chance.
More questionable decisions here from Jim. Ale and Brujo were both on yellow cards, and Curtin makes two subs. First, he replaces Uhre who had a stronger evening than Julian in my opinion. Instead of bringing on Quinn, we see Torres again for Mikael. Next, Bueno replaces Alejandro. I just don’t understand a handful of things here. First, we have seen what Torres has to offer. It’s just not good enough in the attack. Sullivan isn’t Cory Burke, but I feel more confident in him off the bench. Next, you cannot afford to lose Brujo to a red card. I don’t mind Bueno coming in, but why not make the switch for Martinez to keep him available for Nashville? Also, what does Perea need to do to see time? You’re down 3-1 and have been playing poorly all night. Why not give Perea a chance to do something on the right-hand side.
LA continued to push for their next goal, and the Union looked helpless in the attack, as they did for most of the evening. The final whistle was a relief for most fans, and the Union were sent home with a poor effort in California. After the match, Jim Curtin highlighted that the Union weren't good enough on the evening, and have missed opportunities on the road throughout the season. It's only 2 games, but this is a tough stretch and way to approach Leagues Cup. Curtin said he would be satisfied with 4 points against Nashville and NYC, but is hopeful for 6 points to enter the new tournament.
- Mike Barrera (Mbarrera1323)