Two second half goals drove a late comeback as Philadelphia Union knocked off San Jose Earthquakes in dramatic fashion Wednesday night. Alejandro Bedoya pulled one back off a Ray Gaddis helper before Jamiro Monteiro and Kacper Przybylko combined to complete the stunning win that vaulted Philly back into second place in the Eastern Conference.
The Union’s 4-4-2 shape congested the center so San Jose immediately sought to spread out their buildups and attack through Vako down the left. In the 13th minute, the earned a corner kick, played short, and Magnus Eriksson nearly found the recently signed Carlos Fierro at the back post.
The home side broke through just before the hour mark with Eriksson setting up the move. The midfielder found striker Danny Hoesen with his back to goal, and Hoesen was able to roll his man and lay the ball across goal for Jackson Yueill’s late run and easy finish.
In the 40th minute, the Union finally got the early movement they needed, with Andrew Wooten breaking free down the left and Kai Wagner picking out the striker’s run. Wooten laid the ball across goal but couldn’t find a teammate.
The move spurred San Jose to life and when Philly’s defense was sucked to the right, the QUakes found Fierro breaking free alone. The Mexican winger drilled the ball at goal but Andre Blake was off his line in an instant to close the angle and make the save.
As the half wore on, the Union became more aggressive going forward, with Monteiro’s movement freeing him up to create. After helping earn a corner, the midfielder latched onto a half-clearance and laced it around the near post.
The half ended with Marco Fabian drilling a half-volley at goalkeeper Daniel Vega’s feet, but the Quakes were determined to regain momentum in the second frame. Moments after the whistle blew, Eriksson thought he had doubled his side’s lead, with Hoesen’s hold-up play once again proving key. However, Hoesen was offside during the play and VAR pulled the goal back and granted the Union a second life.
They took it.
Jim Curtin wasted no time moving to a 4-2-3-1 and installing Ilsinho and Fafa Picault in the wide positions. Picault’s energy and aggression immediately made a difference up the wing, and the moves freed up Monteiro to prowl the center of the park.
Philly was clawing their way back into the match when Vako was allowed to turn in midfield and pick out Fierro streaking through the channel. The winger had been impatient though, and replays showed he strayed offside near the halfway line.
That left the score at 1-0 when Ray Gaddis broke down the right and cut the ball back for Alejandro Bedoya. On a night when the ball was popping off every foot, the captain took a wonderful first touch to steady himself, picked out a shooting lane, and buried the ball past Daniel Vega at the back post.
Bedoya celebrated with teammates before taking off his captain’s armband and holding it up to the sky to show that Lucy McCabe, the three-year old that was part of the Union’s Fearless 43 that passed away last week, was inspiring his and the team’s play.
Then, with Bedoya showing the way, the Union pulled ahead through a wonderful play by Jamiro Monteiro. Pulling out to the left, the midfielder picked out a beautiful cross to Kacper Przybylko, and the big striker met it perfectly, nodding down past Vega into the net.
The Quakes thought they were about to even things up when referee Baldomero Toledo pointed to the spot. Aurelien Collin was adjudged to have hauled down his man as he sought to body him out of the play, but Toledo humbly turned to VAR and correctly ruled that Collin’s actions were perfectly legal.
In extra time, former Union winger Shea Salinas got to the endline and centered for Hoesen, but the striker’s touch put the ball outside of the near post.
The Union picked up a huge three points as they collected their sixteenth win of 2019, setting a franchise record. The win guaranteed that they can finish no lower than third in the Eastern Conference, and now the Union close out the season with a trip to Columbus and a home match against New York City that is guaranteed to have a playoff feel.