Union / Union match reports

Match report: Atlanta United 2-2 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Philadelphia Union mounted a furious comeback in the final ten minutes, with a close-range finish by Cory Burke in the 84th minute and a spectacular blast from distance by Jakob Glesnes in stoppage time erasing a two goal deficit to Atlanta United and earning the visitors one point at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

With Jose Martinez and Daniel Gazdag out on international duty, Jim Curtin started Leon Flach and Anthony Fontana in their places in the midfield. Sergio Santos earned the nod over Cory Burke as Kacper Przybylko’s strike partner.

Kickoff came on Father’s Day in front of a raucous Atlanta crowd, eager to avenge their side’s elimination from the Concacaf Champions League by the Union. The hosts had the first half-chance of the match, with Cubo Torres just unable to control a cross that had sent him in on Andre Blake’s goal. Santos scuffed a similar chance ten minutes later, as he failed to redirect a sharp ball from Kai Wagner on net.

Only a brilliant save by Brad Guzan prevented the Union from taking a 17th minute lead. Santos redirected a centering pass from Alejandro Bedoya into the path of a streaking Fontana, who had only the keeper to beat from eight yards. The ex-U.S. international just managed to get his foot on Fontana’s first-time finish, keeping the Union off the board.

Philadelphia carved Atlanta up on the counterattack in the 35th minute but couldn’t find the back of the net. Santos, at the center of the action all half, found Przybylko in the box, but Striker Muffin’s shot was saved by a Five Stripes defender. Santos saw his follow-up shot blocked over the bar.

Leon Flach sparked another counterattack in the 42nd minute with a lung-busting run through the heart of the pitch. He found Przybylko, who cut in and whipped a right-footed shot at the far post, but Guzan got down and made a strong one-handed save. After a full six minutes of first-half stoppage time, the sides went into their locker rooms scoreless.

At halftime, Curtin made a concussion substitution, replacing Santos and bringing in Burke.

Atlanta’s Torres had the first quality chance of the half in the 55th minute off a corner kick. His free header, however, was right at Blake. Moments later, Marcelino Moreno flashed a shot wide of the post on the counterattack.

On the ensuing corner, Kacper Przybylko proved a friendly striker for Atlanta, depositing the ball in the wrong net. The inswinger from Brooks Lennon came off the back of the striker’s head and left Blake helpless.

Atlanta found themselves in the ascendancy after the own goal, with Wagner just getting enough of the ball to avoid a penalty moments later. Chasing the game, Curtin pulled an ineffective Fontana for Jack McGlynn in the 69th minute.

Jakob Glesnes had a chance to even the match off a looping free kick from Jamiro Monteiro, but Guzan closed off the near post and kept the Norwegian’s header out of the net.

Anton Walkes doubled Atlanta’s edge in the 84th minute. After the Union cleared a corner, Atlanta worked it wide to Lennon, who pumped in another cross. Walkes rose up above Burke and thumped a header into Philadelphia’s net.

Seconds later, Burke brought the Union right back into the match. Monteiro hit a low blast from outside the box right at Guzan, but the veteran keeper couldn’t corral the rebound. The bouncing ball fell to Burke, who’d done well to follow up the shot, and he blasted it into the top of the net.

With the game stretching like saltwater taffy, George Bello looked to finish things off for Atlanta, but Blake made a typically acrobatic save to keep the Union in it.

Jakob Glesnes saved the day in stoppage time with an incredible howitzer of a goal. The long-range master found himself with space 35 yards from goal, unleashing a furious strike that curled away from Guzan and hit the top corner of the net. No keeper in the world could have stopped it.

After the Union’s long break, it’ll be a short turnaround with Columbus Crew coming to town in midweek. Kickoff from Chester is on Wednesday, June 23, at 7:30 p.m.

Three Points
  • Set piece struggles. Philly conceded two goals off set pieces, with both strikers finding themselves culpable. Something to clean up on the training ground.
  • Fontana’s foibles. It was a big opportunity for the struggling Homegrown to make his mark. But after failing to finish his best opportunity, he faded from the match.
  • Don’t call it a comeback. This writer’s first draft of the match report stated that Walkes’ goal sealed the win for United. It didn’t, thanks to great effort from the Union and another goal-of-the-season contender from Glesnes.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Olivier Mbaizo, Jacob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner, Leon Flach (Matt Real 90+7′), Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro, Anthony Fontana (Jack McGlynn 69′), Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos (Cory Burke 45′)
Subs: Joe Bendik, Alvas Powell, Aurelien Collin, Stuart Findlay, Quinn Sullivan, Paxten Aaronson

Atlanta United

Brad Guzan, Miles Robinson, Santiago Sosa, Anton Walkes, Brooks Lennon, Franco Ibarra (Alan Franco 71′), Ezequiel Barco, George Bello, Erik Lopez (Jake Mulraney 82′), Marcelino Moreno, Erik Torres (Jackson Conway 90+1′)
Subs: Alec Kann, Mikey Ambrose, George Campbell, Tyler Wolff, Mo Adams, Machop Chol

Scoring Summary

ATL: Kacper Przybylko (own goal) — 58′
ATL: Anton Walkes — 83′ (Brooks Lennon)
PHI: Cory Burke — 84’ATL: Kacper Przybylko (own goal) — 58′
PHI: Jakob Glesnes — 90+3′ (Jamiro Monteiro)

Disciplinary Summary

PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 30′ (foul)
PHI: Leon Flach — 41′ (dissent)
ATL: Gabriel Heinze (manager) — 45 + 1′ (leaving technical area)
PHI: Anthony Fontana — 53′ (foul)
PHI: Jakob Glesnes — 60′ (foul)
ATL: Erik Lopez — 76′ (dissent)
PHI: Jamiro Monteiro — 90′ (foul)


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Is there a reason to even bother to have a vote for goal of the week?
    Union gave up way too many corner kicks. They need to work on that.
    Union were lucky not to go down 2-0 earlier as Wagner committed a foul that should have been a PK.
    Once again, the Union announcer is far superior to his non Union counterpart on a nationally televised game.
    I’ll take a point in Atlanta just about any time. But they really need to outlaw turf and require real grass.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      ….spot on, watching games on turf (especially that turf) is the worst as it takes a game already moving fast and makes it (the ball) TOO fast this frenetic chaos mechanism of which bodies and limbs are constantly out of control makes one as breathless as this run on sentence which embodies the spirit of what I mean.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I was actually thinking of player safety. Two of the three times Santos had to be looked at were directly due to hitting the turf wrong.

    • The one benefit to the turf in this game was on the Glesnes goal. After the first rebound down from the crossbar, the spray of rubber that rose showed very clearly that the ball had landed behind the goal line. The second bounce was on the goal line, and the third was again behind the line, but that first cascade should have been enough for the VAR and review team to show that it was a goal. Until goal line technology is approved, that rubber spray would not have been available on a grass field, and can be seen as having helped with that goal being called a goal. I, too, hate turf, but it has that as a singular positive.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    There’s a good deal to take away from this match. Some positive. Some critical. I’ll try to stay with the positive as the post game commentary then table the other factors at a later time. Congrats to Union for battling back in a game they already should have won from my POV. They were the aggressors and protagonists from jump. I though the few weeks off had them firing nicely and in general sync with on another from opening tap. Some excellent combinations and moments of pleasing-ness.
    The Glesnes strike was surreal.

    • HopkinsMD says:

      Glesnes! Couldn’t believe what I saw at first, then started laughing more and more with each replay angle.

  3. Great strike from Glesnes. For the life of me, I can’t understand why Atlanta just let him gallup through the midfield over and over again. Had they not seen the highlight reels?

    I’d love to hear from those smarter than me — in abundance here — what this team’s plan of attack really is. I can’t figure it out. I don’t know what Santos is supposed to be doing. He just runs, loses the ball and falls over. Przbylko is frequently incredibly deep. He can hold up play really well, but it never amounts to much. It can’t be solely Fontana’s fault. Because I feel I’ve been watching this aimlessness for a while now.

    I may be off base. This team defends really well, if a little shaky at times. It can counter with high speed, but I don’t see a method at work. It’s bugging me. I don’t think Atlanta is particularly that good. In fact, I think they’re pretty soft. A better team should be able to put them down more reliably.

    • Well the plan of attack is to turn the ball over and spring fast counters and score. We did that a few times, and Guzan actually came up big in the first half.

      But yeah, if that doesn’t work we look worse but I’d say thats the bane of most counter attacking teams. I think Gazdag will help a lot with this.

    • LacticacidMCB says:

      I am not sure if there is a plan of attack. I think it is win the ball in the opponents third and attack.

      My daughter’s team just went 1-1-1 against three teams in the top 20 in the US with that strategy. They have no US National players and the teams they played did.

      It used to be not pretty. Now you have to respect that they turn those teams over and get 4 v 3. Used to be boot and run as that was how the girls understood direct. Now they complete quick passes and transition really fast. U15.

      You just have to respect owning transition. Possession and pre-planned auotomation is for teams that have talent Davy.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        this is the direct experience of my own little cauldron of hell with my son.
        its effective. it’s so hardcore there is no time for any rhythm short of heavy metal head bangers ball.destroy the guitar and smash the snares and cymbals to make it sound ‘like’ music. Personally, i’m good with time signature changes for sure… but all out every note with a throat metal singer screaming into a mic… I hate it. It’s not for me —
        —but this is how US Soccer has figured out to be successful. You don’t really have to teach the game- just transition transition transition… forward forward forward. FUCKING FORWARD!!!!
        there is nothing beautiful about the beautiful game in almost every corner of this country. there is little creative flair, little Pausa, just all out head bangers soccer.

      • Perhaps getting Martinez back and Gazdag at the 10 will help establish just a little more order to the chaos. I still think there’s a lot of wasted running. It was so jarring to take in Italy – Wales and transition straight into the Union match. Maybe I just don’t like this system. But if it works, it works.

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    One point I forgot to make was regarding Kacper’s attitude at the end. When Glesnes tied the game, Przybylko ran to the goal to get the ball and tried to get the game started again. He wanted a chance at 3 points rather than just one.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      THIS. I mentioned to someone Burke as well. He was about to celebrate then he remembered there was work to be done. It’s a real pet peeve of mine when players celebrate after the 70′ when tied or trailing. Pick the ball outta the net and get back to work.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Completely agree when trailing. I can see a case being made for celebrating the tying goal on the road during stoppage time (as most of the team did), but personally support Kacper’s position that going for another 2 points is what you should be doing.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        If that was a tap in, I’m not okay with it. But forget being professional, how in the world do you just go straight to the kickoff after something like that? The little kid in you will naturally come out every time. So yeah I have no gripe with them celebrating that particular goal.


    Watched this one with my six year old just enjoying playing. He saw how pissed I was as the ref was a lil unfair and the Union where a yard off on passing.

    Glesnes. Thing of power of beauty. Glad my kids got to watch why we say our team, they’re not playing well today. But they keep fighting!

  6. I want to know what the coaches handshake looked like

  7. Doug Remer says:


  8. Vince Devine says:

    Anyone else tired of watching Montiero play with the ball, only to lose it, when he had clear passing options if he move the ball immediately? Seemed like he unnecessarily gave the ball away too often, and it’s becoming a trend with him.

    • I do think he does this way too much, he is just so good he gets away with it. But I think good defenders are going to be able to take advantage of it. This is also why I like him better at the 8.

    • As Arena would say “he tries shit”. It was noticeable he was getting his pocket picked fairly often when other options were available. It wasn’t just him either. It seemed Atlanta was dispossessing multiple players in the final third at critical moments as a build was underway. A second later the back line would be under duress. It’s one thing to make the brave pass that goes awry, but to have a ball poked away from behind is just so wasteful in a game where scoring opportunities are generally hard to come by.

    • I was watching the game on ESPN Deportes and the Spanish-language commentators kept commenting and making fun of Monteiro for this. At one point one of them asked “how many times is he going to try it?” (The Spanish-language commentators tend to be a lot harsher lol)

  9. Andy Muenz says:

    One of the Atlanta United players, Ronald Hernandez, did score in stoppage time today. Fortunately for the Union it was the tying goal for Venezuela (although it may mean the Union are without Martinez for an extra few days). Jose got subbed out midway through the second half.

    • Martinez also assisted on the first goal for them. A good performance here can be raising his price tag.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        Exactly, a great cross. I’d love to have him back but it’s good exposure

  10. George Rawling says:

    Can Glesnes play as a forward? He really should shoot more often

  11. Union were lucky that Cubo Torres is a huge step down from Martinez for Atlanta. The chances Torres left wanting today were truly incredible. Union did well, but this could have gotten out of hand quickly with some better Atlanta finishing.

    Overall though, I thought the Union played decently and the 2-2 result was fair. A draw at Atlanta will probably be seen as a positive result when the table looks a little clearer.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      It was a Martinez exchange as both teams were missing one for Venezuela at Copa America. The difference is that the Union’s is actually playing while Atlanta’s hasn’t seen the field in the first 3 games (not sure if it’s COVID or injury).

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        Josef Martinez had covid I’m pretty sure. Don’t quote me but I’m almost positive I saw something about it over the weekend.

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