Our boys in blue put up a valiant fight but lost 2-0 to the defending champions in Atlanta.
Union first XI: Blake; Wagner, McKenzie, Elliott, Gaddis; Bedoya, Medunjanin, Aaronson, Monteiro; Santos, Picault
Atlanta first XI: Guzan; Escobar, Gonzalez Pirez, Pogba, Ambrose; Nagbe, Larentowicz, Pity Martinez; Josef Martinez, Gressel, Barco
Pregame: I have no idea what to expect. The Union bossed Atlanta in the regular season, but Atlanta has all the big game experience. What I do know is I am armed with copious amounts of early Halloween candy and if the Union go down, I am going down with them in a giant sugary mess. Let’s running diary this, shall we?
Also, Andre Blake had better get it together in a hurry.
1′: Sergio Santos takes an elbow to the jaw while in the air. Is it going to be like that?
3′: Atlanta whips a dangerous ball into the box but Josef Martinez cannot get on the other end of it. Let’s try to keep that to a minimum, okay?
5′: An easy touch to get Blake going on an Atlanta pass. The Union need good Blake tonight.
6′: A dangerous cutback through the box by the Five Stars doesn’t connect. The Union cannot sustain this kind of porous defense.
8′: Medunjanin hits a cross over everyone in the box off of a set piece. Wasted.
10′: Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Andre Blake comes out for a ball, can’t get it, Julian Gressel chips him, and the Five Stars take the lead. I will have some more taffy please.
12′: Off of a free kick deep inside Atlanta territory, Jamiro Monteiro collects the second ball and has a go from 25 yards out but misses everything.
14′: The first real Union threat in Atlanta territory ends in nothing as Bedoya fans on an awkward left-footed shot in the box. This is encouraging however.
17′: A Union counter nearly results in a goal when Santos flies down the left and feeds Aaronson, Destroyer of Guzans in the box alone on Brad. Guzan however is up for the challenge, coming out and saving the shot with his body then wincing afterwards.
21′: Union coach Jim Curtin doesn’t want his team to concede in the first 20 minutes. Er, whoops.
23′: Brenden Aaronson draws a foul. Mark it down and store it away.
25′: The Union press is starting to take its toll on Atlanta as the Five Stars cough possession up in their half a couple times in a row.
26′: Picault goes down hard in the box going up for a header and comes off briefly, and then back on.
30′: From a Union corner, Medunjanin gathers a second ball due to some invisible defending by Josef Martinez and whips a ball into the box, but Jack Elliott cannot connect with it. The boys in blue are getting chances now but not putting them away.
33′: Andre Blake comes out for a cross and picks it up and immediately starts a counter with Fafa Picault, who tests Guzan, but Guzan is equal to it. The U are having more of the ball now than Atlanta, who seem content to counter, and counter they do. Pity Martinez breaks down the field and only a Bedoya foul and yellow can halt the play just above the Union box. Bedoya will miss the next match if the Union advance.
34′: Pity Martinez takes a low, hard shot on Blake, but Blake stops it cleanly.
37′: Another Union free kick goes into the box but a foul is called on the U and the play whistled dead.
38′: Gressel sees yellow for persistent infringement.
39′: Another free kick into the box for Medunjanin, but this one is claimed by Guzan. They just can’t connect on anything.
41′: Santos goes down in the box on a run down the left, but the referee is not impressed.
42′: More of Santos making things happening, as he makes another run into the box and appears to control the ball but with his arm, and it’s ruled he handled it.
45′: Two minutes of stoppage.
45+2′: An Atlanta corner finds Josef Martinez unmarked but Martinez misses the goal. That’s a major bullet dodged.
HT: The Union are a second half team. The Union are a second half team. The Union are a second half team.
Curtin: “You’ll see Ilsinho soon.”
48′: More Union pressure right off the kick still leads to nothing. On the other end, Atlanta gets a grade A chance in the box but the shot is deflected out, resulting in a corner. The attacking header is popped up, and Blake claims it.
49′: Picault appears offsides but takes a shot that hits an Atlanta defender in the face. Picault then takes an arm to his face. Nothing called either way.
52′: Here he comes! Ilsinho on, Aaronson off.
54′: Franco falls at the faintest of contact with Kai Wagner and earns an Atlanta free kick in the Union half, but nothing comes of it.
58′: Ilsinho does Ilsinho things, dances past two defenders and wins a corner. Elliott gets a free header but can’t make contact with it.
60′: At the other end, Barco wins a corner with a run down the left and a deflection out. The resulting corner leads to a mad scramble in the box which forces Blake to make a double save and keep the Union within one. How long can the Union’s luck last?
66′: Another Union corner. But first, Marco Fabian on, Sergio Santos off. The corner results to nothing.
68′: Ilsinho tees up Fabian at the top of the box and Fabian puts it into Row 50.
69′: Ray Gaddis possibly saves a second goal as Josef Martinez misses just wide on Blake after being played in. Gaddis came in and challenged just as Martinez got the shot off.
71′: Blake comes out and grabs a free kick into the box. He’s looking more and more like himself.
73′: Barco off, Emerson Hyndman on for Atlanta.
75′: Wagner sees yellow after a bad turnover for the Union and Josef Martinez trying to make a move to goal. The Union break on the kick but Fabian bounces a ball to Guzan.
78′: Out of nearly nothing, Fabian lets loose with a rocket that nearly picks the side netting on Guzan. It doesn’t. Atlanta still leads 1-0.
79′: Josef Martinez misses an open header over the bar. Wow. Pity Martinez off, Remedi on.
80′: Josef Martinez connects on the break as McKenzie misjudges a long ball to him and blows a ball past Blake high and tight into the top netting. 2-0 to the Five Stripes. That might be it.
82′: Andrew Wooten comes on for the Union.
83′: Fafa rolls a ball to Guzan. I am out of taffy.
84′: Adams on, Ambrose off for Atlanta.
86′: Pogba destroys Ilsinho in the box. No call.
88′: I’m not bitter that this match could have been played in Chester. I’m not bitter about this at all, or about the match against the moribund Columbus Crew the Union dropped that could have led to it. Let’s just stop talking about it.
90′: Gressel plays Josef Martinez in on Blake alone with a wide open net and he misses. Three minutes of stoppage.
90’+2: Bedoya misses a shot on Guzan after Ilsinho plays a beautiful square ball to him. That’s just about how the night has gone. Atlanta wins 2-0.
FT: That’s it. The Union’s magical run is over. There’s much to think about in the off-season, but there is a lot to build on.