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Union underdogs show out to earn road point vs. LAFC

Teamwork and grit gave the Union their first point of 2020 in a hostile environment in the early hours of Monday morning our time

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Los Angeles FC Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

For those Union fans who decided to go to sleep and not watch Sunday night’s match, you missed a good one.

I could rant all day about the best things that happened, but I’ll focus just on the most important aspect of the game: the players.

Firstly, José “El Brujo” Martinez belongs in Philly. Despite having his face bloodied multiple times and multiple jersey changes, the Venezuelan almost played the entire match, and made excellent plays the entire way through until he finally came down with a quad strain late in the game. Martinez demonstrated that he has what it takes to make it in Philly, grit and determination. Union fans should be excited to see more of the magic of “El Brujo.”

The entire attack is placed together on this list because they played together. Throughout the match they worked as a unit, moving the ball around and pushing the ball up the field, trying to find gaps in LAFC’s defense. While they did struggle at the beginning with taking shots, they clicked after Sergio Santos’ opening goal and put up two more by the time the final whistle had blown. They demonstrated what lower-skilled players can do against a better team when they work together, and ended up securing the Union their first point of the season.

Andre Blake also makes this list, given that he made a total of eight saves throughout the game, and despite letting three goals past him, kept the Union afloat, and displayed skills that reflected his earlier years as a keeper, hopefully signaling a return to glory for the Jamaican international. While Blake wasn’t perfect, and it is easy to make the case that he dropped two points for the Union, it is also easy to say he saved the Union a road point, and showcased his potential once again as a keeper.

I saved the best for last in Jakob Glesnes, given that he had a performance for the ages. Even without scoring from 35+ yards out, Glesnes had a terrific game, making several clearances from the box, and keeping LAFC’s attack at bay. Again, Glesnes wasn’t perfect, and wasn’t always aware of what was around him, but he was still a key instrument in the Union’s defensive blockade on the constant attack of LAFC. And with that deep goal to put the Union up 2-1, the soccer world should know Jakob Glesnes’ name by the end of the day today.

Few of these players were expected to make huge impacts. Glesnes had only played one MLS game prior to Sunday, Martinez had his MLS debut, Blake was coming off a weak 2019 season leading to many doubts, and Sergio Santos only started five games last season, and spent much of 2019 injured. Nevertheless, they were able to go to LA and earn a point, showing that this team has what it takes to be special.