Short-handed Union fall to Atlanta United FC 3-1

The Philadelphia Union kept it close for most of the match, but they ultimately could not overcome a two-man disadvantage and lost on the road to Atlanta United FC 3-1.

Atlanta United starting XI: Guzan; Gonzalez Pirez, Parkhurst, Escobar; McCann (Ambrose HT), Larentowicz, Nagbe, Gressel; Almiron, Barco (Vazquez 76’); Martinez (Williams 84’)

Union starting XI: Blake; Fabinho, Trusty, McKenzie, Gaddis; Bedoya, Medujanin; Picault, Dockal (Creavalle 23’), Epps (Ilsinho 57’); Sapong (Burke 67’)

This was one for the books.

It was your normal Union match for the first 16 minutes. The Union were getting chances, as was Atlanta.

Everything changed in the 17th minute when Josef Martinez was running into the 18-yard box and fell as Auston Trusty went for the ball. It was a questionable foul, as it appeared that Trusty got a foot on the ball, and Alejandro Bedoya must have said something to that effect to the referee Sorin Stoica. Stoica was in no mood to listen to the Union’s team captain, and showed him a yellow card. Unfortunately, it was Bedoya’s second yellow after he had pulled down a racing Darlington Nagbe in the 11th minute. With Bedoya ejected, Haris Medujanin went nuts, screaming at the ref. The referee gave Medujanin two yellow cards in succession, leaving the Union down two men and without their holding midfielders.

Martinez made the penalty kick to give the Five Stripes the 1-0 lead. With over 70 minutes to play and down two men, it did not look good for the Union. Head coach Jim Curtin soon after replaced Borek Dockal with Warren Creavalle as he looked to keep the score close.

With the advantage, Atlanta kept the pressure on the Union with Andre Blake making several big saves to keep the match from getting away from the boys in blue. The Union were relieved to go into halftime only down by 1 goal.

It didn’t take long for Atlanta to seemingly put the game away in the second half as Martinez scored again in the 49th minute. Miguel Almiron made a nice cross from the left side which found Martinez’s foot as he ran in behind Trusty. Martinez didn’t miss, and now Atlanta had 2 goal lead with a two-man advantage. It looked like it would be a long second half for Union fans.

But then, three minutes later, the unexpected happened: the Union scored a goal to get the match back within one. Following a Fabinho free kick which bounced off the wall, Creavalle chipped the ball over the defenders to find Fafa Picault alone in front of the goal with just goalkeeper Brad Guzan to beat. His shot was true, and Union were only down by one.

Atlanta did not let up though, creating chance after chance. Thanks to Blake, some good plays by the Union defense and the crossbar, they struggled to get that insurance goal. If the Union could keep Atlanta from scoring, there was the hope that somehow the Blue and Gold could manage a tying goal, and go home with a memorable road point.

Finally, in the 84th minute, Atlanta United put it away when Martinez completed his hat trick on  a penalty kick that resulted from a Fabinho handball in the 18-yard box.

The match would end 3-1, but if there is any such thing as a moral victory, this would be it. Atlanta had a whopping 31 shots, with 10 of them on goal. Despite the huge disadvantage the Union had to deal with, they managed to keep the game close for most of it.

Phinal thoughts:

  • I don’t like to blame stuff on the the refs too much, but the flurry of yellow cards (which turned into red) was ridiculous.
  • What did Bedoya do to earn that second yellow? He wears the captain’s armband. Doesn’t that give him the right to be the one who complains to the ref?
  • Was it Bedoya’s second yellow or something else that set Medujanin off? He was going beserk. Even so, issuing two yellow cards in a row for this seemed harsh.
  • Blake is from another planet. No Earthling can make saves like him.
  • Looks like this will be an opportunity for Derrick Jones and Creavalle to get some minutes against Toronto FC next week with Bedoya and Medujanin suspended.

The Union start their run for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday at home against the Richmond Kickers. Their next MLS match will be Friday at home against Toronto FC.

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