The highly anticipated Union season kicked off today, and our Boys in Blue began their campaign with a home game against Minnesota. Check out our Match Report from today's contest!
Mbaizo, Glesnes, Elliott, Wagner
Martinez, Bedoya, Flach, Gazdag
Fisher, Boxall, Kallman, Dibassy
Lod, Reynoso, Fragapane
First Half Summary
It feels like the Eastern Conference game was just yesterday, but after two months off, the Philadelphia Union are back in action. The Sons of Ben tailgate was electric, and even in a chilly atmosphere, the Philly faithful packed Subaru Park! I've been saying it for years, but this venue really is one of the most electric spots in Philly. Also, Mikael Uhre was in the building, and he was welcomed by the River End with his extremely catchy chant.
The ref getting the most attention within the first 10 minutes. Leon Flach was hit forcefully in the mouth, and he may have even drawn some blood. No call from the ref, and no VAR either after the head shot. The boo birds and "No One Likes Us" chant were loud and proud.
The first corner kick came in the 17th minute, with Minnesota getting the chance. A defensive header and a stop from Andre Blake was needed to get the ball out of the Philly box. Jose Martinez then worked some magic to break an ankle and push toward the other side of the pitch. The Philly counter did lead to a corner kick, but ultimately Minnesota was able to keep the Boys in Blue off the board.
Unfortunately for Philly, the game was not scoreless for long. Mbaizo lost Fragapane, who was able to break free toward net and send a pass to Lod. He was wide open at the center of the box, and Lod put it passed a helpless Blake. Mental miscues killed us last year, which makes that error from Olivier even more frustrating.
We have ourselves a tied match! Philly kept the pressure on, and Glesnes soon found the ball on the right side of the pitch. He then sent a spectacular cross into the box, where the Jamaican native, Cory Burke, left no doubt with a strong header. 1-1 with only 10 minutes left in the first half.
Union kept their pressure on Minnesota to end the half, but unfortunately a Minnesota counter forced Glesnes into a sliding tackle. This risky play caught the leg of a Minnesota attacker, which gave Jakob his first yellow of the season. The free kick from outside the box went over the stretched hands of Andre, but fortunately the crossbar kept the match 1-1. The halftime whistle eventually blew, and these clubs entered the break tied up. So far, Jose Martinez had the most impact on the game for Philly.
Second Half Summary
Speaking of Jose Martinez, he started off the second half with getting a yellow card in the 51st minute. Brujo had a forceful tackle on Arriaga, who came up limping. Not entirely surprised for the quick card.
The first 15 minutes were fairly quiet, although Andre Blake was forced to make a leaping punch out after Minnesota sent one into the box. Jose was another topic of conversation entering the 60th minute, as he appeared to take a hard shot to the chest. He soon returned into the match, which was big for Philly considering how well he was playing.
A good chance on net came in the 65th minute. Bedoya found Cory Burke at the top of the box, and he tried bending one passed Jersey-native Tyler Miller. The Union ended up earning a corner, and although initially cleared out, another cross found Daniel in front of Miller. His shot was not good enough to beat the keeper, and he was also offside. Regardless, more chances like that is what we wanted to see in this half.
The first sub came in the 68th minute. Leon Flach was removed by Jack McGlynn.
Another ref issue came when Carranza went for a ball in the box. A Minnesota defender leaped over Julian's back, and the crowd went nuts for a call. The whistle was silent, as was VAR. Not entirely opposed to the official's decision, but I could certainly see the argument for a penalty.
Jim Curtin made two more changes with fifteen minutes left in the match. Gazdag and Carranza were relieved by Paxten and Sergio Santos. Great to see Santos back in action after he took a slight knock in preseason. Minnesota also made a sub, this one in the 78th minute. Hlongwane for Fragapane.
Amarilla was the next sub for Minnesota, he was removed from the match by Hunou. This substitution came with only about 7 minutes left in regulation. Speaking of 7 minutes, the 90 minutes arrived, and the official awarded seven minutes of extra time. With the Union pushing, this seemed like the best chance for them to get a late win.
Minnesota tried to take the road win though. Their attacker snuck behind the center backs, and Andre Blake was forced to make a finger-tip save. Of course he made the save, you'd expect nothing less from Blake. He makes the impossible look simple.
Overall, it was a fairly quiet second half from both teams. The seven minutes of stoppage time soon came to an end, and Philly walked away from the pitch with a 1-1 draw. It may not have been the outcome some wanted, but I'll gladly start the year with a point. To be honest, we really won't know what this team is capable of until Mikael Uhre comes onto the field.
- Mike Barrera (mbarrera1323 on Twitter)