Goals from Kacper Przybylko and Paxten Aaronson and a solid performance from Matt Freese in goal led the Philadelphia Union to their first win away from home since late May in a 2-1 victory over last place FC Cincinnati.
Missing six regulars to international duty (Andre Blake, Alvas Powell, Olivier Mbaizo, Jamiro Monteiro, Jose Martinez and Daniel Gazdag) and Kai Wagner to a red card suspension, Union head coach Jim Curtin opted to play a 3-5-2 in front of Freese with Nathan Harriel and Leon Flach as wing backs.
The hosts were the better side early attacking the Union’s back three but a confident Freese came up big to deny a couple early chances and finished with five saves on the night. The Union were dealt another blow when Sergio Santos limped off with what looked like a quad injury in the 15th minute. He was replaced by Quinn Sullivan.
The five minutes of stoppage time added on for the Santos injury ended up being a plus for the Union as they opened the scoring against the run of play in the third minute of stoppage time off a through ball from Jack McGlynn and cross from Aaronson to Przybylko, who beat a defender in the box and rocketed a shot into the corner of the net for his 10th goal of the season.
Curtin opted to switch to the 4-4-2 at the break and the Union were able to build off the momentum of the stoppage time goal and extend the lead to 2-0 when Harriel connected with Aaronson on a cross to the far post. Aaronson’s nodded down the free header, which squeaked by Przemysław Tytoń.
The three points seemed to be comfortably in hand for the Union until Haris Medunjanin cut the lead in half against his former team in the 82nd minute to make a game of things. The ball fell to Medunjanin just inside the 18 after an Luciano Acosta shot was deflected and rather than try to power it through traffic, the veteran perfectly placed a chipped shot past Freese.
Though Cincinnati had eight minutes plus 7 minutes of stoppage time to try to find an equalizer, there was a lack of urgency on display for the hosts and the match fizzled out with a welcome wimper for the boys in blue. Medunjanin’s goal was Cincinnait’s last shot registered on the night.
The win moved the Union to within two points of second place Nashville SC ahead of a visit to CF Montreal next Saturday afternoon (1 p.m. kickoff).