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Philadelphia Union stays hot with 4-1 win over Atlanta United

A comfortable performance on national television clinched a playoff berth for the best team in the Eastern Conference.

Jack Verdeur

The Philadelphia Union took down visiting Atlanta United on Wednesday night, in a 4-1 victory that guaranteed a playoff game for Philly. Goals from Julian Carranza, Mikael Uhre, Daniel Gazdag and Nathan Harriel elevated the Union to the midweek win.

The historically chippy matchup began auspiciously, when Andre Blake came out of the net to attempt to clear a dangerous through ball to Luis Arujo. After making contact with the ball, Blake’s clearance found Arujo’s face, sending him to the ground and causing concerns that the goalkeeper would be penalized. Luckily for Philadelphia, play was just momentarily paused to allow trainers to enter the pitch, and resumed with a drop ball.

After gaining control for the early part of the match, Philadelphia was able to draw first blood. When the ball looked tied up just outside of the box in the 19th minute, Mikael Uhre laid it off to Julian Carranza, who tucked the ball perfectly inside the left post.

It wasn’t long before the Union found themselves in a recently unfamiliar position: scored on. A shot from Arujo forced a great save from Blake, but Andrew Gutman’s diving header was enough to put the ball away from point-blank.

Both sides traded momentum throughout the half, without either finding a goal. The best chance came Daniel Gazdag suffered from a goal-line clearance by Brooks Lennon in the 39’ to stop an impressive counter-attack.

Uhre saw his redemption in stoppage time of the first half, as his shot from a corner kick took a harsh deflection en route to the back of the net. The goal counted as his 10th for the season, meaning that Union’s lead attack of Uhre, Carranza, and Gazdag have all scored double-digit goals this year.

It took some time for the Union to take advantage of the second half, but eventually, they earned a messy goal in the 68th minute. When Cory Burke, Rios Novo, and Lennon all went up for a jump ball in the six-yard box, Lennon was able to win the ball. However, his header laid the ball right in front of the goal, just so that Gazdag could put it away for the Union’s third goal. Gazdag also broke the Union single season goal record with his 17th of the season.

Philadelphia scored one final time in stoppage time as Nathan Harriel finished a homegrown play. Jack McGlynn laid a pass off to Paxten Aaronson, who worked the ball to Harriel. While the defender’s initial shot was blocked, the follow-up found the net without issue for Harriel’s first goal.

When it was all said and done, the Union had won 4-1 and improved to 57 points, while remaining comfortably atop the Eastern Conference.

The Union goes on the road this weekend for a matchup with rival New York Red Bulls. The match with kick-off at 7 p.m. on Saturday from Red Bull Arena.