It was not the prettiest of wins Sunday night in Washington D.C. for the Philadelphia Union. Save Kacper Przybylko’s winning goal at the end of the first half, the Union saw themselves mostly on the defensive against United. The Union were outshot and out-possessed over 90 minutes, but still found a way to remain undefeated on the road this season, looking in control even while defending.
“These guys have a belief that they’re not going to concede goals, and we have enough dynamic attackers that they’re going to make a couple plays during a game.” manager Jim Curtin said after his team’s grind-it-out victory.
Normally the headlines surround reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake, who did make some key saves, but the workhorse on defensive end for the Union was Jakob Glesnes.
“I think Jakob’s playing at the highest level since he’s been with us.” Curtin said.
Glesnes totaled 10 clearances, tying his season high against Atlanta United in the Concacaf Champions League. The Norwegian center back also contributed two tackles. Any time the hosts looked to have a chance in the Union’s third, Glesnes was right there ready to snuff out the attack and save the day with a timely deflection.
Glesnes and Jack Elliott have formed a formidable duo anchoring the back line together now through 11 games in all competitions in 2021. They’ve conceded just six times in that stretch of games and just once in their last four.
“It’s not our best game but as a team we are defending so well together,” Glesnes said.
The weather was also a factor Sunday night with temperatures in D.C. humid enough for the Union to have their first hydration break of the season.
“It’s a tough away game,” Glesnes said. “It’s huge from the team to get three points from here and keep the zero on the road.”
Curtin has been talking up the 27-year-old, who made his 31st appearance for the team, as someone he thinks is deserving of attention from his national team.
“He’s a dream for a coach because he plays the game the right way,” Curtin said. “He’s the modern center back… I’ve seen players all over the world. I’ve seen the highest level, and there’s only so good you can be. Jakob is about as good a center back as you can be.”