On a perfect night for Soccer and Fireworks at Talen Energy Stadium, the Philadelphia Union (6-8-3, 21 Pts, 8th Place Eastern Conference) welcomed the top team in MLS, Atlanta United FC (11-4-4, 37 Pts, 1st Place). This match was much more important for the fighting for playoff positioning Union, as they were 2 Pts. below the red line.
Unfortunately one of the best crowds of the season at 17,025, saw the Union shut out by Atlanta 2-Nil, so they would make no advance with this match.
Atlanta United FC Starting XI:4-2-3-1
GK: Brad Guzan; D’s Franco Escobar, Michael Parkhurst(C), Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Mikey Ambrose; MFs Julian Gressel, Jeff Larentowicz, Hector Villalba, Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco; F Josef Martinez
Union Starting XI: 4-2-3-1
GK Andre Blake; Ds Raymon Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie, Keegan Rosenberry; MFs Alejandro Bedoya(C), Haris Medunjanin, Ilsinho, Fafa Picault, Borek Dockal,; F CJ Sapong
It was an entertaining but scoreless first 45+ as each team had chances to score. The Union had more shots 11-6, but United had more SOG 2-1. Possession was just about even.
As the shot total tells you the U, as we have seen so often from this team, made some very nice runs to get in scoring position, but had problems with the final touch.
That continued in the second half, and the best team in MLS did what good teams do, taking advantage of the Union’s missed chances.
That came to be when in the 57′, Blake tried to make a save on the charging Miguel Almirón, but instead tackled him earning a Booking and a PK for United.
Josef Martínez (18) easily buried it to Blake’s left as he guessed middle. 1-Nil Atlanta 58′
That goal really seemed to take the fight out of the Union. 15′ later after most of the action was in the Union end, Villalba (3) on a beautiful pass by Almiron, tipped it past Blake, for the eventual 2-0 final score in the 76′
Even though for much of the match the Union played well and it was closer than the final score would indicate, the difference in shot differential from the first half, 18-16 Union vs 11-6, and especially on target with Atlanta surging ahead 8-3, where it was 2-1 after the first 45, really showed how Atlanta took over after that PK goal in the 58′
Atlanta United FC Subs:
Chris McCann for Ambrose 73′
Brandon Vasquez for Villalba 84′
Kevin Kratz for Barco 45’+
Cory Burke for Sapong 64′
David Accam for Picault 76′
Marcus Epps for Ilsinho 83′
Atlanta United FC Cards:
Not that I was expecting a W for the Union against the best team in MLS, I would have been more than happy with a draw, but with all the good chances the U had and squandered early, it made the L a bit tougher to take. In the first half at least they showed they could hang with the best, but in the end they showed why they are just out of contention, while Atlanta showed why they are the best. As I often say in my baseball tweets, Good things happen to good teams, and Bad things happen to bad teams. That applied tonight.
On the positive side, besides giving up the PK, Andre Blake had some incredible saves, which especially late in the second half when the rest of the team seemed to lose its spirit, kept the outcome from being worse, and I will show a few here courtesy of the Union twitter:
After many posts admonishing the Union “fans” lack of attendance, I do want to say that they really turned out tonight and were in full cry through much of the match, so kudos to them. I realize the Fireworks and the perfect weather may have added to the turnout, so I still implore the fans to keep coming out as I feel they will bounce back from this against closer competition, which we hopefully will see in the next match noted below.
In just four days the Union head to the Mid West to face the Chicago Fire (6-7-5, 23 Pts, 6th Place) for another pivotal Eastern Conference match. The Fire play the Vancouver Whitecaps later tonight.