Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 3-0 Inter Miami CF

Photo: Major League Soccer

Facing off in their first ever regular season match, the Philadelphia Union defeated Inter Miami on a rainy night in Chester. This match marked Miami’s recent international star’s Gonzalo Higuain’s first ever MLS match and start, but even more importantly, Anthony Fontana finally got the start we’ve all been craving as he filled in for a suspended Alejandro Bedoya. The match was a bit of a mixed bag, but the result was exactly what the Union needed as they walk away with three points.

It was a slippery start, with Luis Robles slipping on the grass in the first minute of play, hitting a goal kick out of bounds. Half of Miami’s team would continue to slip and fall throughout the match, but the Union did not face such issues. Only Sergio Santos went down at the start of what would have been a breakaway run, had Andres Reyes not taken him out to earn a yellow in the fifth minute.

Philly seemed to dominate and thrive in the rain as it began to come down harder. In the ninth minute, Jamiro Monteiro would get a shot on goal. Anthony Fontana would expertly bring the ball into the box, dancing around three defenders to get the pass off to a relatively open Monterio, who cut inside and ripped the ball, only to have Robles get a hand on it to push it wide for the first threatening opportunity of the match.

Higuain would have Miami’s first chance of the night, hitting a ball just over the crossbar in the 13th. The new signing looked threatening all night, but was always covered by Mark McKenzie. He’d have a beautiful bicycle in the 20th that would glance off the post for Miami’s next chance on net.

Despite Higuain’s prowess, the Union’s own young superstar, Fontana would score first, hitting a rocket past Robles from just inside the box. The pass came from Kacper Przybylko, a little side pass into space for Fontana to run on to and power it home. Soon after, Kai Wagner would decimate a defender with his footwork in the corner and get the pass to the top of the box, only for Brenden Aaronson to hit it high. Remembering what happened in the MLS is Back Tournament, Philly was looking to get another goal as quickly as possible. Both sides would go back and forth, but nothing would come of any attacks, so the first half ended with the Union up 1-0.

But Miami was pressing as the second half kicked off. Santos earned a yellow and a foul by Olivier Mbaizo in the 48th gave Inter Miami a free kick from a dangerous spot that was cleared after a little scrum in the box. The visitors looked to be largely in control of the match as Philly scrambled a bit, looking slower and making some very poor touches in the rain. Santos would get a chance on a counterattack in the 55th though, ripping a shot into the body of Robles after taking it up the far sideline.

Jakub Glesnes would bail out his team two minutes later, blocking a shot from a give an go play that soundly beat Aaronson. It was probably Miami’s best chance of the night, with Blake going 1 on 1, until Glesnes got a leg in the way of the shot to deflect it out. That play would result in Fontana going down and requiring treatment, only to be subbed off and replaced by Ilsinho. Ben Sweat would have had the tying goal in the 63rd minute if not for Blake who made a diving save and just got a hand on the ball to push it barely wide. Miami was really knocking on the door now.

But Philly would double their lead. A wide open Ilsinho would literally slide the ball into the back of the net from the six yard box following a series of nice passes in the 69th. Aaronson’s fancy footwork took the ball halfway across the pitch to make a pass to Montiero, who made a quick pass to Kacper in the box, then a final pass to Ilsinho.

After the second goal, somehow Miami was awarded a penalty kick after VAR showed a handball on the Union in the 76th. Higuain took it and blasted it up and over the net, keeping Blake’s shutout intact. Words were exchanged between Higuain and several Union players as tensions ran high.

There would be a lot of chippy fouls and players down, but no real chances for either team as the match really stretched out in its dying minutes. But then nine minutes of stoppage time was announced, as video reviews and everyone laying on the wet grass at some point adds up. The boys in blue looked like they were already done with the match, struggling to get back on Miami’s counterattacks and rescued by Blake a few times.

Despite that tiredness, Aaronson would score in extra time, capitalizing on a poor pass from Miami’s back line. He ran onto the ball, took it up all on his own, and hit a low ball across the goal, past a diving Robles. It was just the extra cushion and boost of confidence the Union needed to finish the match, winning 3-0.

Catch Philly’s next match on Saturday against Toronto up in Canada, kicking off at 7:30 p.m.

Three points
  • Unbeaten streak continues. The Union are now undefeated in their last 11 of 12 games and have won all of their matches at home this season.
  • Some credit to the defense. With players like Gonzalo Higuain, Rodolfo Pizzaro and Juan Aguedelo leading Miami’s attack and you didn’t see many of their usual plays, credit the Union back line. Both Mark McKenzie and Jakub Glenses had strong nights, pressing more and making superstar attackers pretty ineffective all night to help Andre Blake record another shutout. It wasn’t their best 90 minutes, but it was effective.
  • Welcome starters. Anthony Fontana finally got his start this match, which was the second of his career. Strange considering he is only the second person in club history to score back to back braces as four goals in two games since Conor Casey in 2014, and opened the scoring tonight. Another welcome starter was Kai Wagner, who’s last start came against D.C. United back on August 29th.
Lineups

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake (c); Kai Wagner (Matt Real, 86′), Mark McKenzie, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo; Jose Martinez Jamiro Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson, Anthony Fontana (Ilsinho, 61′); Sergio Santos (Andrew Wooten, 78′), Kacper Przybylko

Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Aurelin Collin, Matej Oravec, Jack de Vries, Michee Ngalina

Inter Miami

Luis Robles (c); Andres Reyes (Dylan Nealis, 68′), Nicolas Figal, Ben Sweat, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez; Lewis Morgan, Blaise Matuidi, Rodolfo Pizzaro, Victor Ulloa (Wil Trapp, 81′); Gonzalo Higuain, Juan Aguedelo (Robbie Robinson, HT)

Unused subs: John McCarthy, Mikey Ambrose, A.J. De La Garza, Jay Chapman, Matias Pellegrini, Julian Carranza

Scoring summary

PHI: Anthony Fontana — 25′ (Kacper Przybylko)

PHI: Ilsinho — 69′ (Kacper Przybylko)

PHI: Brenden Aaronson — 90’+6′

Disciplinary summary

MIA: Andres Reyes — 5′ (unsporting behavior)

PHI: Sergio Santos — 47′ (unsporting behavior)

35 Comments

  1. Hard to call that a weird game for compared to Saturday’s Union II game (where they outscored NJ II 4-3 after they went up a man…yes, they gave up 3 goals up a man…and Freese was their best player).
    .
    Fontana has 2 career starts and has the game winning goal in both.
    .
    I believe Monteiro is out of yellow card jeopardy as I think this was the 5th game since his last one so he should have one taken off.
    .
    Union picked up 3 points on Columbus although they have to go to Hartford next weekend to play Toronto. Unless Orlando can win by 3 in Dallas (and it is scoreless early in the second half) the Union will move back into 2nd place.

  2. What a difference four days and real grass make. Stingy team defense and a few real “beautiful game” moments tonight despite the soaking. Well deserved W tonight.

  3. Fontana. Very impressive. Slipping balls. Clinical finishing. Hard to believe …well let’s leave that horse to die.
    .
    Jamiro Montiero. If you were playing as good as previously before the injury last year I’d argue this team could be a Cup finalist. But something is off with you..call it the MLS Effect or not- he’s far too casual. There’s an attention to detail missing in his play. It’s a bummer because he’s that good but isn’t that good lately. It’s an issue. And I’m overly annoyed by it.
    .
    Kacper. Continuing to play very well. When your striker is scoring assisting and building play by checking back what can u do but tip your hat.
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    Mbaizo needs earlier recognition to fill that flank channel…. way too often he’s too slow to make the run and it’s messing up good play. Area for improvement.
    .
    Andre that save against Sweat was not of this planet.
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    Jack Elliot may have a tough time getting back on the field. Good problem to have I guess.
    .
    Gonzalo. You’re a career underachiever with 300 goals. Suck on it, bitch. Go cry an orange blossom Indian River back in Florida…. Fuck off.

    • Casual is a good word. I would add too nonchalant (the bad version, not the Mark McKenzie version) as well. Feels like he still thinks it 2019 and the league hasn’t caught on to him yet. Needs to bump it up a notch.

      It will never happen, but giving him a start off next game could do wonders. Same lineup as tonight, just replaced Monteiro with Bedoya.

    • You could make a drinking game of the amount of times Tommy stated “ Glesnes has a great air game”………..I was almost wonder8ng if he forgot he said it ten seconds previously……..

  4. Sara missed the biggest story of the night- Wooten caught on camera smiling and trying to sort-of hug Aaronson after his goal. I’ll sleep better tonight.

  5. Grady Seasons says:

    Resounding applause for the Union for salvaging what was to this point a pretty dismal day in Philadelphia sports. There are no more games to blow for the Phillies bullpen and regretfully thirteen more games to mismanage and misthrow for Pederson, Schwartz, and Wentz’s *MASH* Unit. Also my preferred club in English football lost which was a real bummer. The manager for this aforementioned club left two regular starters at home for failure to show adequate fire and desire to play for the club, not “on the ball,” so to speak. I wish more managers showed that kind of chutzpah, if I may put on my Lombardi horn-rimmed glasses.

    For a good portion of the match I thought Inter Miami looked threatening to score, but thanks to a gutsy performance from the back line and another first-class showing from Andre Blake, the clean sheet was preserved.

    Necessity is the mother of invention, and sidelined chiseled in stone starters the genesis for creativity in Curtin’s Union lineup tonight. Accommodating the formation to suit Fontana’s start was encouraging but my confidence that such flexibility will become a mainstay in future Curtin lineups is minimal.

    In spite of the weather, I thought the Union looked pretty fluid in their passes and movement. I think Higuain was aiming for wherever the hell he came from with his penalty kick. Good luck with the Inter Miami Wet T-Shirt Contests.

  6. So what excuse does a coach use to not start his second leading goal scorer and hottest player? I’m just curious.
    .
    Kudos to the boys. I’m not complaining about anything they did tonight.

    • I’m not sure I’ve seen Fontana’s finishing ability in another Union player during the Curtin years. Only Roland Alberg had as good, perhaps better, a boot. The pace that kid unfurls on a strike is sensational. Of Curtin doesn’t think he connects play well enough or doesn’t defend as tenaciously as he likes, why not give him some runs up top with Przbylko?

      Got a good laugh at Higuain’s penalty miss. And then he wants to fight about it? Can’t for the life of me understand why Miami were thinking.

      • Fontana plays without fear. He plays the game with an ignorance of youth, as if in a local pickup game, where the only ones who are watching are the other players. I mean that as a compliment. His game is all about being positive.

      • Agreed on the GREAT finishing.
        Noticing that Curtin put him at #10 and watching him play, I think it is his defense that Jim doesn’t think enough of.
        It seemed last night that his primary goal was to make his mark pass the ball away whereas Aaronson will try to take the ball and may just take a piece out of you in the process.
        I think that is why he didn’t put Fontana at #8 and instead moved Brendan out there.
        If Fontana can develop a more hard-nosed approach to defending at #10 like Aaronson has, he may be the heir apparent when Brendan goes to Salzburg.

  7. Jeeze Philly
    .
    Maybe the most complete game the team has played in ages and 10 comments by 09:30 the next day?
    .
    Are you all listening to the Phillies and Eagles list mortem on the radio? Do yourself a favor.

  8. So I’m a season tix holder since the beginning and am always rooting for the Union, but was just a little piece of me that wanted Higuain’s first MLS shot on goal to be a bicycle kick off the goalpost and in – just for the sake of the beautiful game.
    That said, McKenzie shutting him down was perhaps the best indication yet that Mark is ready to go play with the best in the world.

  9. 3 points….nice goals. Keep it moving! Santos provides an element Wooten doesn’t….he can get in behind with pace.

  10. Atomic Spartan says:

    Nice soccer coverage in the Inky the last couple days, but…

    Union won despite their struggle against international stars and a deluge, and no Sports front page coverage? Hard to fault the deep disappointment in the other two teams that led the editors to give them a page one pillorying. But as my beloved Eagles’ season drones on in an appointment with insipidity, the U’s march to the playoffs should at least merit below-the-fold placement.

    Not holding my breath. But one can dream.

  11. What a great season!! Hope that some of us can get back into the stadium before this great season ends. Was watching the F1 race yesterday that took place in Stochi, Russia, and the stands were packed! When will ours be again?!

    • Most of the F1 races have been without fans. Assuming the Union are not planning on packing the stadium, it may be tough to decide which fans get to go to a game and which don’t. I’m a STH and I would love to go to a game, but not if the people who sit near me (besides my wife) are there too. Normally I look forward to seeing them at games but I don’t want to take my life in my hands.

    • I guess it has to do with how many are allowed in. If they did 33% each over the next 3 home games I would use mine in an instant and buy anyone else’s for other games who didn’t feel safe going. Just would wear a mask, touch as little as possible and wash hands regularly.

  12. Only two things really need to be said in the aftermath of this bog soggy:

    1). Somebody get to that Fontana kid and tell him if he keeps scoring like this he’s NEVER going to get to play consistently!

    2). Martinez: a complete prick-but you gotta love him! (:)) He’s like Chara-but without the subtlety. Never change Warlock, never change.

  13. Great game from the whole team! McKenzie and Arrinson both had Higuain’s #!Glesnes needs a set of wings on his Jersey! Dude can fly! Really enjoyed Higuain’s temper tantrum. Nice to see our boys getting into someone else’s head for a change! Come on the U!!

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