Photo: Frank Fimmano

Photo: Frank Fimmano

Aaronson scores in his debut as Union draw Atlanta United 1-1

The Philadelphia Union gets their first point of the season at the home of the defending MLS Cup champions, Atlanta United FC, with a 1-1 draw.

Union Starting XI: Blake; Wagner, Trusty, Elliott, Gaddis; Medujanin, Craevalle (Jones HT), Bedoya, Aaronson (Ilsinho 74′); Picault (Accam 89′); Burke

Atlanta Starting XI: Guzan; Gonzalez Pirez, Parkhurst (Shea 59′), Robinson; Nagbe, Larentowicz (Carleton 79′), Remedi, Gressel; G. Martinez, J. Martinez, Villalba (Barco 67′)

The Union were 0-2 going into this match, and had not even scored a goal in the run of play yet. Many fans had already started to despair. The club needed a result, yet it wouldn’t be easy, playing at the home of the defending MLS Cup champions, and they were without the services of Marco Fabian.

Fabian’s absence, however, would provide a great opportunity for 19-year-old Brenden Aaronson (from the great town of Medford, NJ), who would get the start in what would be his MLS debut.

While Atlanta would dominate possession in the first half, they could not take control of the match, as the Union defense did a good job of dealing with any pressure in the Atlanta’s final third of the field.

The Union did get some chances of their own. In the 35th minute, Alejandro Bedoya played a perfect ball to Cory Burke at the top of the box with a clear look at goal, but Burke blasted it over the net. Seven minutes later, Fafa Picault ran through the defenders towards the goal, all alone, but took a weak shot that Miles Robinson was able to catch up to. The Five Stripes’ most dangerous chance in the first half was a sliding shot by Josef Martinez that hit the crossbar. With that bullet dodged, the score remained 0-0 going into the half.

It didn’t take long into the second half for the boys in blue to make some noise. Aaronson took a run from the corner of the box to the top of the penalty arc, and let loose on a shot that took a slight deflection off the calf of Leandro González Pirez. Brad Guzan was leaning the other way and ball carried into the net for Union’s first run-of-play goal this season.

The match went on with the Five Stripes continuing to dominate possession. They nearly tied it in the 65th minute when Josef Martinez made a beautiful bicycle kick with pressure around him, but Andre Blake was there to make the save.

Atlanta finally broke through in the 70th minute, when Ezequiel Barco ran into the box and headed the ball in to tie up the game.

Atlanta United looked more and more dangerous as the game went on but they could not finish their chances. Despite the lack of possession, the Union did a get a couple of chances near the death of the match. Picault had a shot on goal, but Guzan made himself big and kept the ball out. Haris Medujanin took a free kick from just outside the box that just barely went over the crossbar.

While it would have been great for one of those chances to fall in, Jim Curtin and his club must be happy with a road point in a difficult environment.

Final thoughts

  • Burke had a terrible night. He doesn’t seem to know where the goal is anymore.
  • Picault wasn’t much better. The weak shooting he showed in this match isn’t going to threaten any MLS goalkeepers. He has to do better.
  • Medujanin didn’t have a great game either. He was caught out of place on the Barco goal, and many of his passes were off-target.
  • What more can we say about Aaronson? He showed that he can play in this league, and his performance merits more playing time for him. This Medford resident is proud of you, Brenden!

Next week the Union return home to take on Columbus Crew SC.