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Union secure third place finish after VAR-aided comeback in San Jose

VAR went in the Union’s favor three times in a 2-1 win over the Earthquakes

SOCCER: SEP 25 MLS - Philadelphia Union at San Jose Earthquakes Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

SAN JOSE, CA — Video review was the Philadelphia Union’s friend on Wednesday night in San Jose as they had three reviews go in their favor in a wild 2-1 comeback win over the Earthquakes.

The first was for a possible DOGSO against Kai Wagner for a tackle just seven minutes into the game that could have spelled disaster for the Union’s chances at doing something no team had been able to do since Minnesota United on March 9: win at Avaya Stadium.

As they did in their loss against the New York Red Bulls, the team looked disjointed through the first 45 minutes and were in a deserved hole courtesy of a goal from Jackson Yueill’s 35th minute strike.

The second half didn’t start off any better as the Earthquakes found the back of the net seconds in when Magnus Eriksson hammered home a rebound off a save from Andre Blake. The goal was taken away after video review showed Danny Hoesen offsides on the play and the Union got a do-over on their start to the second half.

Going to his bench with Ilsinho and Fafa Picault, head coach Jim Curtin shifted fromt he 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 with Andrew Wooten giving way to accommodate the tactical change and Picault taking up a spot opposite Ilsinho on the flank. As it has so often this year, the tweak proved to be the right formula to unlock the Union offense and snap a 250-minute road goal drought.

Alejandro Bedoya benefited from a slip by Yueill defending on the play, which gave the Union captain time and space to line up his shot and tuck it inside the far post. Kacper Przybylko leveled the score six minutes later when he headed in a cross from Jamiro Monteiro but the Quakes were back on the front foot and in position to tie the game when a penalty was awarded for contact from Aurelien Collin in the box on Andrés Ríos.

But like the two previous VAR calls that went against the Quakes the penalty didn’t stand up to review, leaving the stunned San Jose fans to lash out with chants of “ref you suck” and some fans to throw water bottles and other objects onto the field.

Clinging to the 2-1 lead, the Union were able to kill the rest of the clock and six minutes of added time to earn all three points and clinch no worse than a third place finish, which guarantees a second home playoff game if they are able to advance out of the first round.

The win also moved the Union into second place after Atlanta United lost to NYCFC earlier in the day. A win in Columbus on Sunday for the Union and an NYCFC loss at New England would reduce the gap between first and second place to three points and set up a winner take all match at Talen Energy Stadium on October 6.