Photo Cred: Philadelphia Union
The Union were able to coast to a 4-1 victory against the Columbus Crew, but on Saturday night they had their first road test of the season. The AAT Sports Network Crew has all of the match details below!
Steffanelli, Martinez, Jean
Pizarro, Gregore, Mota
Negri, McVey, Kryvstov, Yedlin
Gazdag, Flach, Martinez, Bedoya
Wagner, Elliott, Glesnes, Mbaizo
First Half Summary
To our surprise, Coach Curtin stuck to the same rotation for the Starting XI. The Union have a quick turnaround on Tuesday night and will likely see a share of rotations for their match against Alianza (in the CCL). In terms of Miami, they also stuck to the same eleven from the week prior. If you watched last Monday's Across the Pitch, you know we emphasized two things: getting behind the Miami back line (with 2 changes) and pressing their keeper on the ball. Philly's Continuity vs a lineup with 6 changes from last year was the story for me entering the match. How would Miami's chemistry be able to handle the well-oiled machine of the Union?
Miami started the game in good form. Almost immediately forced a shot on goal, and flirted with creating space by Andre’s net. They were connecting on quick passes and keeping the Philly defense on their toes.
Union did settle into the match a bit more and began to force a handful of turnovers. Wagner in particular had an outstanding tackle to create a shot attempt by Julian. Philly weathered the storm and began to keep Miami in their own half.
An excellent scoring chance from the Boys in Blue came in the 12th minute. Kai Wagner was gifted a ball after a poor clearance by Miami's backline. The left back then beautifully crossed the ball to Alejandro on the other side of the pitch, who sent the ball right back to the left. He found the head of Leon Flach, but Leon's header was poor at best. The ball erratically ricocheted well wide of net. In the first half, I thought Flach had a share of solid moments, but this one really stung for me. If you watch the replay of the header, Flach could not have asked for a better ball. Leon just did not get enough elevation in his attack, and it almost seemed like the ball caught him off guard. A player like McGlynn leaps up and drills that one into the back of the net with ease. In a game where Philly had some few bright spots, they needed to take advantage of that moment. It's a miss like that which has me intrigued to see Perea or Jack more often on the left.
Kai Wagner and Jean got into a heated exchange before the 20th minute. Kai had thrown his arms up during a tackle, but Jean seemed to sell the call. The two went face to face before the official separated the two. It was clear that the game was getting chippy, and Leon Flach soon earned a yellow. It appeared that the ref was taking control of the match before things got out of hand.
Don't even get me started on Penso, the head official. Not a great night, especially with his prolonged discussions.
Weird yellow card just moments later by Jose Martinez. During a restart, a ball was thrown in and Martinez “inadvertently” dropped a second ball into the field of play. Not a great feeling to have both Flach and Brujo with cards before the half hour mark. Thankfully, neither were given another booking.
The Home squad had taken a few long distance chances at net, and they finally connected on one in the 32nd minute. Blake’s clearance was won by Miami, and Corentin Jean took a beautiful strike from outside the box. Andre got his finger tips on the ball, but not enough to save It. From reviewing the play, it's one where we've seen Andre make that save before. It felt like he reacted a bit slow on the strike. Considering the angle and distance, I have to give credit to Jean for placing that in the perfect spot.
Union then had two chances to score. Mikael was chasing down a ball in the box, and after the ball had been pushed away, Callender took Uhre off his feet. Penso did not make a call, nor was VAR called. Just moments later, Callender’s goal kick was easily received by the Union forward’s and Gazdag’s close range shot was kept out of the net. As mentioned above and earlier this week, the Union were making Callender earn his check today. Similar to Leon though, Daniel needed to put that one into the back of the net. The keeper was making mistakes all night, but Philly could not capitalize on their moments.
Despite the yellow card and Penso having multiple conversations with players, we only got 1 minute of stoppage. Uhre ended the half with a volley attempt at net off a Wagner free kick, but It went over the bar. As expected though, It was an intense 45 minutes from these two clubs.
Second Half Summary
Philly had Miami on their toes in the first five minutes. An early Miami foul gave Kai a good chance on a free kick, but his left footed strike went well over the net. Next, off a throw in, the ball was knocked around in the box. Callender ultimately jumped on the ball though. Regardless, the start you wanted to see.
Spoke too soon It seems. Union began to gain possession, but would make careless pass after careless pass. Jim waited to make subs last week, but they already had the lead on Columbus. If there was ever a time to bring Torres in, It felt like the Union could benefit off some creativity.
After the match, Jim was noticeably frustrated by the uncharacteristic performance by the club. I'd say those missed connections all night was a big reason why.
After a Miami injury and some stoppage, Torres and McGlynn replaced Uhre and Flach in the 62nd. Creativity and offensive ability being plugged into the match with Philly knocking on the door.
Despite the exciting subs, Philly had their struggles. Some more poor passing and a terrible turnover by Brujo. His giveaway led to a great shot from Mota, but he rattled the cross bar. Would have been the dagger tonight with how Miami was playing. At this point on Twitter, you began to see fans getting pessimistic with the likely result. I'd also say that some believed the Union were looking ahead to Tuesday.
Finally, that second goal was found by Miami, and It was off a possibly Goal of the Year strike. Robert Taylor brought a ball down with his chest at the top corner of the box, and he laced an incredible volley with his right foot. It was perfectly sent to the top corner of the net. Blake couldn’t do anything about that one. Miami was just the better side. I'm not one to share another team's goal, but this is honestly too nice of a score not to share. Outstanding first touch and volley from Taylor.
Jim continued to make changes. Quinn replaced Brujo and Perea eventually took Bedoya off. Neither played extraordinarily well tonight, and many believed Alejandro would have rested tonight in preparation for Tuesday's match against Alianza. Considering the standard rotation today, you'd have to imagine that we see players like Torres, Perea, and Quinn getting some extended minutes. Do we even see 3 in the back and Lowe or Craig on the back line?
After a handful of injuries and stops, the official showed 8 extra minutes to the clock. It wasn’t enough though and Miami eventually closed out the game with a strong 2-0 win. They have now secured consecutive home wins and are 2-0 to start the year. For the Union, they're fortunate that they have a quick turnaround to get this taste out of their mouth.
- Mike Barrera (Mbarrera1323)