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Union Fail to Score, but Shutout Pachuca at Home: 0-0



Photo: Mike Barrera of AAT Sports Network.


Last night, the Philadelphia Union continued their grueling schedule as they hosted Pachuca for the first leg of their CCC matchup. I was at Subaru Park last night taking in the game.


Lineup

Curtin had a tall task ahead of him with the absent players from his rotation. Elliott and Lowe were both serving a suspension, and Julian Carranza was not in the lineup due to a thigh injury that was lingering during the week. On a positive note, Andre Blake, who had missed a few games with an adductor strain, was back in net.


Jim got a bit creative with the lineup, and he put Nathan Harriel at center back alongside Jakob Glesnes. Also, with no Carranza in the Starting XI, Gazdag and Quinn Sullivan were paired behind Mikael Uhre in the attacking side of the formation.


First Half

In the first half, the Union looked like a team that has been playing a very compacted schedule. They weren't playing poorly, but it seemed that every pass was a second too late, or their reactions to the adjusting Pachuca defense was a bit slow. In the attacking third in particular, the Union seemed to be missing that final pass or touch to really test the visiting keeper.


For the visitors, I want to first mention the Pachuca fans. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't have a bigger turnout. Saprissa fans came in droves, but the Pachuca faithful were few and far between at Subaru Park. We never want our stadium to be completely overtaken by opposing crowds, but in these CCC matches, the added Hispanic fans provide a different type of energy than MLS games.


Pachuca had a great chance at goal as the second half was closing. Glesnes turned it over by Blake, and Andre was brought out of net. Somehow, Pachuca was unable to score despite a gift from the Union defense. We've seen Jakob make a few mistakes already this year in the CCC, and we really need one of our top defenders to find some form of rhythm. Mistakes like that in Mexico will likely be costly ones.


Just when you thought the Union were going to take a 0-0 draw into the half, we had some last minute drama as stoppage time approached. Pachuca was attacking and one of their shots clearly hit the extended arm of Nathan Harriel in the box. Not only was Pachuca awarded the PK, but Nathan was given a yellow.


Union players began to protest the call and the head official paused the game as he waited for the call from VAR. Sure enough, VAR was announced, and a Pachuca handball earlier in the build up nullified Nathan's error. Harriel's card was removed, and the Union barely squeaked away with a clean sheet in the first 45 minutes.


Second Half.

Unfortunately for Philly, it was more of the same in the attacking third, but this time they had a bit more chances to really test the keeper. To start, Quinn Sullivan was very involved in Philly's attack down the right side of the pitch, and again the young homegrown was showing how dangerous he can be with the ball at this feet.


I shifted my seat to The River End for the second half to get a closer view on the action, and the moans and groans from the Union supporter's section grew with each passing minute. The Union were finally getting some looks at net, but in my opinion, they seemed hesitant to pull the trigger.


The most aggravating moment for us came in the 77th minute. As you can see in the video from Fox Sports that Jose shared, Daniel Gazdag had a golden opportunity to take a 1-0 lead. Quinn had an excellent cross into the box, and Uhre timed his run well to force the Pachuca keeper into a difficult block. The ball is sitting there for Daniel on a silver platter, and he chipped it onto the net. That summarized the evening for the Union. They were just one or two moments away from putting one into the back of the net.



The final whistle blew, and the Union walked away from the first leg of this Round of 16 match with a 0-0 draw. In the press conference, Jim tried to shed some positivity into the outcome. First, he mentioned that it was the first time Pachuca had been shut out at home. I'll have to give some credit to the Union and their staff for accomplishing that last night. Even with the changes on the back line and in the formation, Philly did enough to keep their opponents off the board. We have seen a few careless goals so far from the Blue and Gold, so a home shutout is a sight for sore eyes.


In terms of players, we saw Harriel, Quinn, and others have solid performances, but Curtin made sure to highlight Jack McGlynn. Curtin applauded Jack for his ability to work his way out of tight areas, and we've now seen McGlynn grow into a very dangerous player on the ball. We will need his creativity and vision on Tuesday evening.


What's Next?

Once again, Philly does not have much time to regroup before their next match. They host Seattle on Saturday evening at 7:30pm. The Boys in Blue then quickly travel to Mexico, where they will face off against Pachuca at 8:15pm. Similar to last Saturday, the Union must maintain their focus on the CCC. We should see some form of rotation again like we did in Kansas City, and we are hopeful that the Union can find the back of the net. Despite Bedoya's late-game heroics against SKC, the Union have now played back-to-back matches where they've been unable to score in open play. They'll look to find some momentum on Saturday to then carry it into their Tuesday contest.


Mike Barrera (Mbarrera1323 on Tik Tok and Twitter).

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