A couple of players missing from the lineup was no problem for the Philadelphia Union Wednesday night, taking care of Inter Miami 2-1 on the road.
Despite three changes to the regular lineup and two along the defensive back line, it was not a problem for a Philadelphia squad currently in first place in the East. Jack Elliott notably missed Wednesday night’s clash due to a knee injury, setting the stage for Stuart Findlay to save the day.
Despite his imminent departure to English side Oxford United, Findlay stepped up for the injured Elliott. Despite the change in center-back pairing, the Union defense was still very solid. Besides an absolute worldie by Gonzalo Higuain, the Union defense was steady as usual, preparing the Union well for a win.
“You know that Sunday he was coming into to say his goodbyes and the injury happens,” head coach Jim Curtin said post-game. “He’s such a professional, and such a man, and a great player that he agreed to stay and on to get us through these two games.”
Also stepping up in a big way was striker Cory Burke. While striker Julian Carranza would have been available to start after the Union made his loan permanent, Curtin said they prepared all week for Burke to start. Burke would score what would end up being the game-winning goal in the 66th minute, driving in a header courtesy of a Kai Wagner free kick.
While Carranza will still be the starter moving forward for Philadelphia, the Union desperately need Burke to be a valuable contributor off the bench. With the departure of Sergio Santos, Burke is the go-to striker off the bench. So far this season he’s scored four goals and has 26 in all competitions in his Union career.
Wednesday night’s victory over Inter Miami was a big morale boost for Philadelphia on multiple fronts. For starters, the Union are now on a two-match winning streak and have already equaled their road win total from 2021 (4). After such a long stretch of draws, it’s good to see a couple of consecutive wins for the club. It is good revenge against Inter Miami, improving on their previous 0-0 draw against Miami earlier in the season. That game was probably the worst Philadelphia has looked all season.
Finally, it shows that Philadelphia can look to the bench for contribution. Curtin’s first team is typically pretty set. There is not a ton of squad change in between matches. In this win, there were three changes to the lineup without a hitch.
It was good to see Olivier Mbaizo get some run out there, and Burke added some much-needed height. Add in some of the young homegrowns fresh off of their fantastic Concacaf Under-20 Championship Run, and the Union squad looks to be a complete unit, poised for a deep postseason run.