Union match reports

Match report: Atlas 2-2 (2-3 aggregate) Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Philadelphia Union advanced to the semi-finals of the Concacaf Champions League with a 2-2 (3-2 aggregate) draw with Atlas in Guadalajara, Mexico. Julian Carranza scored both goals for the Union, both initially given as offside but overturned by VAR to push the Union through. Julian Quinones and Julio Furch were on target for the hosts but it was not enough as the Union did enough to advance.

Jim Curtin rolled out his third different formation in a week, reverting back to his traditional 4-4-2 after using a 3-5-2 over the weekend in Cincinnati and a Christmas tree formation in the first leg against Atlas. Curtin also chose a strong XI, with Kai Wagner returning from injury to take his spot at left back and Jack McGlynn starting in place of Leon Flach on the left side of the diamond.

Atlas would take the lead on 11 minutes through Quinones. The striker drove at the Union backline from 25 yards out and played a ball in for Jonathan Herrera just inside the box. Herrera took a touch and rolled a pass back to Quinones who fired a low shot into the lower right corner from 18 yards out past Andre Blake.

Philadelphia would equalize in the 29th minute. McGlynn found time to float a ball into the box from 30 yards out and played a delightful chip into the path of Carranza with his right foot. Carranza settled the ball with a deft touch and then swept the ball into goal from six yards out. The linesman initially flagged for offside, but after a quick VAR review, it was obvious Carranza was onside and the goal was given.

Atlas came close to retaking the lead in the 35th minute. Quinones got in behind the Union backline and came in one on one against Andre Blake, but the Union goalkeeper was up to the challenge, denying the striker with a strong save down low with his feet.

Philadelphia should have taken the lead in the 44th minute. A perfectly worked counterattack saw Carranza find Gazdag who played McGlynn in behind on the left side. McGlynn slid a ball across the top of the six yard box that Uhre somehow hit over the bar from 4 yards out.

Atlas would come straight down the field and retake the lead in first half stoppage time. A ball long was played over the top down the Atlas right and Herrera outpaced Wagner, who appeared to pull up lame on the play, to get onto it. Cutting into the box, Herrara avoided Wagner’s retreating tackle and played a ball across the box for Furch to tap in from close range.

Philadelphia would draw level in the 79th minute. Leon Flach did well to win the ball in the midfield and play a clever ball infield for Uhre just inside the Atlas half. The striker drove at the Atlas backline and cut a nice pass back into the path of Carranza, who took a touch and slammed a shot into the right corner of the goal from 12 yards out on the left side. The flag again came up for offside but again VAR came to the Union’s rescue, showing Carranza was just onside and the goal was given.

Philadelphia advance to the semi-finals of CONCACAF Champions League for the second time in their history. There, they’ll face a rematch with MLS Cup Champions Los Angeles FC.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Kai Wagner (Nathan Harriel 46′), Olivier Mbaizo (Matt Real 72′), José Martínez, Jack McGlynn (Leon Flach 64′), Alejandro Bedoya, Julián Carranza (Quinn Sullivan 86′), Dániel Gazdag, Mikkel Uhre
Subs: Joe Bendik, Joaquín Torres, Jesús Bueno, Holden Trent, Andrés Perea, Matthew Real, Damion Lowe, Brandan Craig, Chris Donovan


José Hernández, Gaddi Aguirre (Mauro Manotas 77′), Carlos Robles, Hugo Nervo, Luis Reyes, Diego Zaragoza, Aldo Rocha, Ángel Márquez (Christopher Trejo 84′), Jonathan Herrera, Julián Quiñones, Julio Furch
Subs: Jesús Gómez, Jesús Ocejo, Idekel Domínguez, Jorge Rodríguez, José Abella, Antonio Sánchez, Camilo Vargas, Jaziel Martínez, Edgar Zaldivar, Edison Flores

Scoring Summary

ATL: Julian Quinones – 11′ (Herrera)
PHI: Julian Carranza – 29′ (McGlynn)
ATL: Julio Furch – 45+1′ (Herrera)
PHI: Julian Carranza – 79′ (Uhre)

Disciplinary Summary

PHI: Olivier Mbaizo – 34′ (foul)
ATL: Luis Reyes – 49′ (foul)
ATL: Hugo Nervo – 83′ (foul)
ATL: Aldo Rocha – 86′ (dissent)
ATL: Aldo Rocha – 87′ (dissent – second yellow/red card)
ATL: Jose Hernandez – 88′ (dissent)


  1. Huge gutsy performance in a tough environment! Would have been nice if Uhre converted one of his two excellent chances to give the Union home field in the second leg…..but nonetheless bring on LAFC.

  2. Congratulations on tap tonight.
    McGlynn proved his worth… and so did Flach coming on for defense.
    Carranza finished. Uhre did not, though 100% credit for the assist to seal the semi-final appearance.

  3. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Uhre is playing bad soccer and it’s in his head. Hopefully that assist will knock him back on track. How a player can miss from right on the doorstep is one thing and that wasn’t really that surprising, it was the run when be went to the middle instead of going wide. Carranza would have either had a shot with the defender going left or Uhre would be in for a shot and even giving it back to Carranza alone in the front of the goal. The offence needs to find its groove and fast.
    By the way, the backline finishing with two homegrowns and two draft picks in Mexico. Well done gentleman.

    • You are counting the keeper as part of your backline, yes?

    • We all thought Urhe’s 2 goals would have done that…… he needs a home cooked meal!!!!!

      Give Torres a full time spot up top v Fire, Sat….

      and I just think it’s terrific to watch the McGlynn, Flach combo… FINALLY.

      Flach is NOT offensive (all meanings).
      His skill is hunting down the ball…. Defensively.
      Use him that way.

      Now if Curtin can figure out a role for the Captain, after 60 minutes each game, we just might salvage this season.


      PS: gutsy performance last night. Kinda wish we would just focus on MLS Cup… but OK.

      Put out the Fire Sat night.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Agree it is a confidence issue. You can almost see it on his face. His movement lacks the decisiveness of last season which seems to be compounding his finishing (when the chance even arises).
      I am pulling for him because his skill set fits the playing style very well (whether I like it or not) is constant probing of the back line. I locked him in for 20 gols this season without a blink.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      I’m not disagreeing about confidence and chemistry. The run Uhre makes to cut off Carranza probably is the best example of being off the page. But the layoff should have also come before that.
      That said, stretches in the second half the interplay of the front three was reminiscent of their best from last year, so I do think they’ll get there.
      On the one “miss”. Guys. That was a clearance. The defender sliding in 100% gets that ball and sends it hard up and over the other way. Uhre never touched it. And Both Carranza and Uhre protested to the ref about it being a goal kick instead of a corner.

      • John P. O'Donnell says:

        It might have or might not have touched the defender but only because he used the outside of his foot instead of the inside away from the defender.

  4. I have to admit I did not think the Union were going to survive that one. Atlas hit them a with everything they had, including a long line of black clad paramilitary members of some sort marching laps around the stadium. It was a fantastic spectacle of a match.

    This win should help restore some of the belief that has been missing from this team. They’ve been tentative and unsure. Hire is a great examiner. He just can’t get out of his own way. Maybe if his first name was Julio or Julian, he’d have had more luck.

    Other notes: Thank god for VAR. That linesman needs glasses. And during those last six minutes of extra time, we gotta do better at possessing the ball. Atlas lost it and were down a man, and we kept giving it right back to them. Need to be better against LA.

  5. And PLEASE, Herr Tanner, sign another goalie with MLS or MLS2 experience. Joe Bendix is a great guy. Will be a great coach, soon… but com’mon.

    Blake needs a break, every few games… Please.

    • 1. Almost certainly the salary budget is fully spent.
      2. Indications are that Andrew Rick is doing very well. He flew from Bradenton to Boston, to be the 2nd keeper for Union II the afternoon after the evening on which the U17s won the GA cup.
      Probably a waste of money in the longer term to sign someone else.

  6. Also, regarding McGlynn. Great to see him continue to take the free kicks despite Kai on the field. No disrespect, but Kai’s corners have been ‘wanting’, dating back to last year. Maybe Kai was/is still injured, but McGlynn places the ball in good spots… Kai has not, mostly.

    Sec 114 yells ‘over the defender’ when Kai lines up for corners.

    Keep McGlynn on the field, somehow.

  7. And sorry…. I just dislike the new “southern California surfer’ kit. This uniform replaced the ‘lightening bolts?… com’mon.

    Could this kit be the reason we started off ‘soft’?

    It’s not MLS Cup hang over…. we’re too relaxed in our new SoCal kit.


    • Hahaha I will forever call it the SoCal Surfer kit.

      • it’s step down, from the by U kit for sure. it displays well though, which is more than i can say for many of the kits after doop hoops. the current home kit is a snooze, so this is why we have as cool … SoCal Surfer cool

  8. el Pachyderm says:

    That game was bat-shit crazy. Congratulations to a well earned aggregate.

    My lord the defensive lapses though- I don’t know whether to be amped or terrified.
    Beyond that ….the post this morning is about Jack McGlynn.
    If I were Ernst Tanner I’d build my entire team around the kid, and seek 70+ touches a game for him. I’d also pay him well and lock him in Philadelphia through the next 5 years.
    He is a pure Regista. Let him control the tempo of the game– there is a fine line in the style they aim to play and what often just appears to be rash indecisive ‘panicked’ passing forward to no one. People can argue me on this but even Stu Holden argued for it for 60+ minutes last night so I’d assume he knows a bit more then me.
    I’d even consider a double pivot with Jack and Brujo…
    He is an absolute joy to watch play. Almost every first touch he takes is oriented to deceive his opponent or buy time and space… which is the hallmark skill set of a player who’s never been faster then anyone on the pitch.
    Reminds me a bit of Pirlo to be honest.
    Jack McGlynn. Thank you. You bring the art.

    • “If I were Ernst Tanner I’d build my entire team around the kid, and seek 70+ touches a game for him. I’d also pay him well and lock him in Philadelphia through the next 5 years.”

      Yes. He makes things happen in ways no one else on this team can. That first goal owes so much to his vision and ability to put that ball on Carranza’s foot (excellent touch and finish from Julian, too). I think Jim has come to this conclusion, too, because that lineup was, I believe, what he thinks is his absolute best XI.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      The assist was magical. But I do think McGlynn still showed some defensive lapses. That is most likely why Jim preferred to force Wagner into an early return rather than start Real. (Too soon. He wasn’t ready and now may be hurt again.)

    • Gruncle Bob says:

      Please do not assume Stu Holden knows more than you. That’s just not true.

  9. Matt Custer says:

    I don’t want to intimate that there may have been a wee bit of favoritism in play by the AR’s but…. OK, yes I kinda do.
    Since when is “Even = Offside?” One of two explanations: inadequate foot speed to eliminate a parallax view or favoritism, either due to innate bias or due to the pressure of the social environment.
    I’d like to think inadequate foot speed, but blown calls by each of the two AR’s? C’mon Man.
    Without VAR, this would have been another CCL victory for an MX side.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      The second one was REALLY close. When I was watching live I thought he was offsides. And even on the replay I still wasn’t 100% sure. (The first was just a bad call.)

    • Unless the AR has the recipient in his line of vision when the pass is struck he has to move his head to the recipient . That takes a fraction of a second and over time he develops a sixth sense about what distance is still on side and what distance is not.
      I suspect we were seeing the difference between the speed of human senses and of the Var cameras.

  10. A few quick points here:

    1) Great result in an extremely difficult environment–it must have been a happy flight home.
    2) Yes, it was great to see the homegrowns play such a vital part in the win.
    3) Worth noting, in years past without VAR, the Union would have lost this game 2-1 and not have moved on. The first goal looked onside in real time, but so did the non-called penalty on Gazdag in the 16th minute of the first leg, which VAR apparently passed on.
    4) I did not think that the ref should have given a double yellow to the Atlas player yelling at him, although it did look like the player touched the ref as the ref was trying to keep his distance from the player. Refs should do everything in their power to avoid deciding the outcome of games.
    5) It was very clear that Wagner was not fit last night and probably should not have been playing. Atlas figured that out and created many dangerous chances in the 1st half on his side. A fit Wagner stops the run before the opponent hits the corner of the box. I hope he will be OK. This season will test the Union’s depth like no other.

    • Refs should do everything in their power to avoid deciding the outcome of games. I totally disagree, because coaches aim for this and then the team that cheats the most wins. (see NBA)

    • My son and I watched both legs of this tie and came to the conclusion that we think the officiating on the whole was better than most of the MLS matches we watch. It definitely leans A LOT more to ‘just play on,’ but on the balance, it just seems to work better. These guys never let the game become an absolute farce, which can happen on any given Saturday in MLS, it seems. That Atlas player who was sent off should have just shut up after he got the yellow, but he doubled down. I can only imagine what was coming out of his mouth…

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Without knowing what was said, it’s impossible to judge whether the second yellow was appropriate or not. Even if you don’t want the ref to decide the outcome, there are still lines that can’t be crossed.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        And, well, we DO know what the crowd was saying. So if it was anything like that…

      • The ref should have turned his back and walked away. Then, if the player followed him, issue the red card. Of course, the player should have shut up, but a proper official should do his best to de-escalate the situation.

  11. The depth on this squad is beyond impressive. Harriel, Real, Flach all coming off the bench and contributing mightily to securing the aggregate.

    This schedule is a killer. To play that game at altitude and have to come back to league play Saturday is a killer. We will undoubtedly see an 11 filled with reserves and thus lacking cohesion.

    My hope is that as the summer moves on, the top of the roster will have time to find their rhythm and settle in. The ability to play at a high level is certainly there.

    • It would be a good game to pull the 3-5-2 out again with Mbazio and Wagner both having hamstring issues. Let Bueno and McGlynn play holding mids & swap out McGlynn for Martinez at half. Uhre & Sullivan up top with Torres AM. Donovan for Uhre at half. Kids on the wings.
      Bring Bedoya on at half if needed.
      If Sullivan and Torres are in together, might also be interesting to see them switching back and forth from time to time.

  12. Andy Muenz says:

    The good: Carranza getting his timing down perfectly with his runs (especially given the high number of offsides so far this season). Uhre being able to go the full 90 (although I’m guessing he’ll get a rest in Chicago Saturday). McGlynn’s passing, especially the one to setup the first goal.
    The bad: Not pushing for the win at the end when that would put the second leg of the semis at home, especially since a risk of a 3-2 loss wouldn’t be a significant difference from a 2-2 draw. Also, the defense still has a ways to go to get to the level they were playing at last season.
    The ugly: Mbaizo probably should have received a second yellow for a tackle from behind just before he came out. He needs to play smarter when on a yellow. I also realized that if the Union get past LA, McGlynn, Sullivan, and Craig probably won’t be available for the final as it overlaps the U-20 world cup.

    • John P. O'Donnell says:

      I believe they just missed a third goal at the end but we just won the the first at home and went to Mexico to get the result. Although LAFC have a great atmosphere, it’s something that they experienced before. I also wonder if McGlynn would go to the U20 World Cup if they make the final? Would the tournament be as big of a deal playing against basically talented prospects compared to a two game series with another game in Mexico or Honduras for the Federation club championship? You would think he might rather play in this game.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        They did have one decent chance at the end, but other than that they looked pretty content with the current score after the red card.
        My guess is that the kids will go to the U20 tournament since that will have more international exposure than a CONCACAF tournament (plus it will be 3-7 games rather than just 2). One hope though is that FIFA has to push back the U20’s since right now they don’t have a site for it given that Indonesia has been pulled as host.

      • If the Union are in the CCL Final, I don’t think it makes sense to release McGlynn for the U-20 World Cup. They need him.

  13. Incredible!!! Can’t wait for the game against LAFC in Philly!

  14. Stumbled onto something interesting at transfermarkt. I have always searched for individual player values there, but did not know that you could do total team roster value.
    According to transfermark, the Union were the favorites for this Champions League match with a total team roster value of $49.5M vs $43.7M for Atlas.
    Curious, I checked out Club America and found they are $76.0M with Monterrey at $71.1M. Interestingly second place MX team Toluca is only $54.6M, which is less than LAFC’s $55.1M
    Clearly MLS still has a way to go to catch up with clubs like America and Monterrey, but even 5 years ago who would have thought the Union would have a roster value of $49.5M?

  15. The other positive from starting Jack is that Leon Flach is really great defensive sub coming off the bench. He has that “instant on” thing where you don’t have to worry about being up to speed in the match and he’s got that annoying energy that is so demoralizing for the opponent late in the game.
    Atlas completely stopped trying to attack down the right after Flach came in.

  16. Though to see the injuries to the U. Thought VAR had a great game. That wasn’t as chippy at the end as I thought it would be. There was plenty of fouls but not the player confrontation I was expecting. Jack McGlynn is just impressive. Sees the game better than most. Hell better than me at home with replays. Doop on boys …

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