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Match Recap: Philadelphia Union grab late win over New England

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Union score in stoppage time for 2-1 win against 10-man NE side

Photo by Carl Gulbish

Final Score: Union 2 - Revolution 1

The Union entered the match in great form, as they have won three of their last four matches since their draw last time they faced the Revolution. However, there were a number of notable injuries that have forced Coach Jim Curtin to tweak his usually locked in lineup.

Union Starting XI: Blake, Gaddis, Glesnes, McKenzie, Mbaizo, Martinez, Bedoya, Aaronson, Monteiro, Przybylko, Wooten

Revolution Starting XI: Turner, Farrell, Kessler, Polster, Buksa, Bunbury (c), Rowe, Bye, McNamara, Buttner, Penilla

First Half Observations

The first half of this game was similar to the last two matches against the Revolution. There has been a lot of action, but no goals to show for it at the moment. The Union have uncharacteristically been attacking down the left hand side, despite their typical tendency to attack down the right. This can be attributed to Jim Curtin’s forced tactical changes due to the number of injuries in his squad. Mbaizo has acquitted himself well so far, but mainly as an attacking force. He constantly makes himself available on the left wing for long balls pinged by CB Glesnes.

The fluidity of the Union attack means this attacking adjustment has had little impact on the first three, with Wooten coming close on a shot built up through Mbazio and Monteiro. This change in tactic has also meant Monteiro has taken a larger role in the buildup and creative responsibility. He has not disappointed in this department, showing vision and technique when called upon. Monteiro was responsible for the Union’s best chance in the first half, when his diagonal ball found Przybylko in the box. The Polish striker neatly headed it down to Aaronson, who saw his shot deflected out for a corner kick.

Sadly, the Union have not had a great half to remember. The buildup play in the first half has been sloppy at best, with the usually dependable Martinez loose with his passing. In addition to picking up a yellow card in the 20th min, ruling him out of the next match, Martinez was overconfident and played far too many fancy passes which lead to turnovers. Thankfully, he is still a defensive stalwart and was able to recover the ball quickly when possession was lost. The Revolution have been held to counter attack chances throughout the first half, although they seem to be content with this strategy. Few of their chances have resulted in anything other than the Union regaining possession in their own half. There has been little to cheer about this half, but the Union have certainly had better chances.

Second Half Observations

The second half started flat, with neither side showing too much interest in creating any meaningful chances. The Union definitely relied less on Mbaizo for buildup play, opting instead for a more balanced approach. The game started to shift in the 56th minute, when Revolution player Polster received his second yellow card and was ejected from the match. The Revolution were then forced to switch to a 4-4-1 formation, to provide more stability at the back after losing a man.

The Union almost capitalized on this immediately as Aaronson found an open Bedoya on the wing, who crossed to a wide open Przybylko near the penalty spot. Somehow though, the Polish striker failed to convert the easy chance for a goal. The Revolution then started to gain a foothold despite being a man down, as the Union started pushing more men up field in search of the opening goal. This lead to the Union being stuck in their own half for a good 10 min. However, Aaronson came to the rescue for the Union, making things happen. Breaking past three Revolution players, he played a good ball to Przybylko for a chance in the box. Unable to get a good shot away, the Polish striker got enough contact on the ball for it to fall to Fontana, who chipped Turner for the goal.

You could tell the team was happy for him, as everyone got in on the celebration. The joy was not meant to last though, as the Revolution equalized in the 81st minute. This goal is down to a lack of concentration that was growing ever since the Revolution went down a man. The Union failed to establish control and hold onto their slender lead. Not much Blake could do to stop the Revolution from scoring, but the defense is better than that to allow a player to glide through for an easy shot on goal. The Revolution scoring took all of the wind out of the Union’s sails, as they were unable to create anything meaningful after conceding. However, when a disappointing draw seemed inevitable, the Union managed to get the win from a late corner kick in stoppage time. Fontana once again scores by being in the right place, at the right time. What a brace for No. 21, and Union managed to get the win late against a formidable opponent.

Final Thoughts

  • This Glesnes to Mbazio diagonal pass is great new tactic from Jim Curtin. Brings Montiero into attack more, and allows him to be creative in final third
  • McKenzie may be the best CB in the MLS, in this writer’s humble opinion. Pace, size, and reads the game so well for a player his age
  • Blake had almost nothing to do except for one or two shots. There was nothing he could do to prevent that goal from going in, as his defense let him down there
  • Aaronson is going to be something special, but he shows his youth on occasion by holding onto the ball too long. However, he showed great instinct on pass to Bedoya who crossed to Przybylko for open chance that he couldn’t capitalize on
  • Martinez is a stud defensively, but his passing needs work if the Union want to build out of the back more. He gave the ball away unnecessarily more than once, leading to chances for the Revolution
  • Great goal for Fontana. Was in the right place at the right time, and that’s what you need from your attackers against a stout defensive team like the Revolution
  • Set pieces still an issue for the Union, as the best chances for the Revolution came off the corner kicks conceded in the 2nd half
  • Union have no one to blame but themselves for the Revolution’s equalizer, they looked less in control once their opponents went down a man
  • Fontana may be a better strike partner for the Union up top if Santos is out long term, as he definitely showed he deserves more minutes today
  • What a way to win, when all looked lost Fontana stepped up and delivered. Great job by the Union to fight until the end, even when all looked lost