Saturday night’s Philadelphia Union victory shows exactly why you invest over the offseason.
After the most successful campaign in club history, the Union could’ve just ran it back in 2022. A year after taking home the Supporters Shield, Philadelphia reached the Eastern Conference Finals of the MLS Cup Playoffs. If not for losing nearly the entire starting 11 to Covid protocols, the Union might’ve defeated New York City and then the Portland Timbers for the entire MLS Cup.
Few were hotter than the Union down the stretch, losing only one match of their last 12 after their Concacaf Champions League Finals run. As soon as they could focus on the league, they were contenders. Again, despite losing nearly the entire starting lineup for their conference finals clash against New York City they nearly pulled off the win.
Philadelphia could have decided that it was good enough, that they were just extremely unlucky. Instead, they decided to invest and really go for it in 2022. Don’t leave it up to chance, fix the problems and win the league!
The investment started midway through last season, Hungarian attacking midfielder Daniel Gazdag brought into the fold in May. Young Argentine Striker Julian Carranza was loaned in from Inter Miami in exchange for a second round pick in the 2022 MLS Superdraft. His loan was made permanent in July for the small sum of $500,000 dollars in General Allocation Money. Of course the big signing over the summer was forward Mikael Uhre. The Union paid a club record $2.8 million to acquire the 2020-21 Danish Superliga Player of the Season.
All three played a massive role in Saturday’s 5-0 triumph over D.C. United, a glimpse at the impact the terrific trio have made all season.
“We’re not selfish at all. We’re just trying to play for the team. Whoever scores will be happy,” commented head coach Jim Curtin on the unselfish chemistry his trio has built this season. “I think we have opportunities to score and then we choose to do the final pass to our teammate. So that’s the difference I think we have with this trio.”
Mikael Uhre started the goal party in the 37th minute. Carranza played in a powerful cross to Uhre at the edge of the box. Uhre used his size to box out center back Victor Palsson, turned to his right and lasered one to the right of goalkeeper Rafael Romo. Right at the end of the first half, Uhre used some crafty footwork in the box to cause a penalty kick. Daniel Gazdag buried the PK for his team leading 13th of the season.
The second half was the Julian Carranza show. A nice bit of interplay between Alejandro Bedoya and Gazdag set up a Carranza wonder strike from outside the box. Carranza’s curled effort was his 10th of the season. He would poach two more before the end of the match to make it his second hat trick against D.C. this season.
12 goals including two hat tricks… Not bad for only $500,000. Don’t forget, Carranza is only 22.
Philadelphia’s dangerous trio up front has come alive in recent weeks with everyone healthy. Uhre, Carranza, and Gazdag have tremendous chemistry going forward, all three able to put their heads down and create magic when needed. Add in Burke off the bench who added a goal and assist off the bench tonight and the Union have a formidable attack capable of winning the league.
For a club renowned for their defensive proficiency, deservedly so with a league leading 20 goals allowed, the Union also lead the Eastern Conference with 51 goals. Lost in the goal party is the shutout for Blake and the defense, their 11 clean sheet of the season. They look like a team with all of the confidence in the world at all levels on the pitch.
The Union will close out August with an inter-conference matchup against Colorado.