With a national television audience tuning in to see Major League Soccer’s newest venue, the Union opened the stadium with the first scoring chance in its history in the third minute. Julian Carranza laid off a wide pass for Nathan Harriel on the right flank. The homegrown quickly drove a pass into Mikael Uhre but the Danish forward saw the keeper position himself well to turn away the near post shot.
Head Coach Jim Curtin said during his midweek press conference that the first 15 minutes of the inaugural match would see Nashville push for an early goal. Curtin was proven correct with captain Dax McCarty firing a blast from 20 yards out that crashed off the post.
The first half saw once again two-time MLS Goalkeeper Andre Blake remind everyone that he is the best keeper in the league. In the seventh minute, Blake made a finger tip stop to deflect an Alex Muhl shot from the edge of the box from going in to rocketing off the cross bar. In the 23rd minute the two met again, this time at the door step of the Union goal after a Nashville SC corner. Walker Zimmerman flicked a near post header to the far post which forced Blake to race to the other end and get a hand on another Muhl shot that again was saved.
Dre racked up another key stop this time against the ever-dangerous Hany Mukhtar in the 30th minute, sending another right-footed shot after a pass from former Union forward CJ Sapong. Nashville continue to be stymied by Blake as they continued to try to get past the Reggae Boyz captain. Just before the halftime whistle rang out, Nashville tried once more to score from a corner kick. The Boys in Blue cleared out the service centrally which allowed for a long-range blast from Daniel Lovitz. Eyeing up a golazo for the 30k fans in attendance, he too saw his shot turned aside.
When asked his thoughts on the opening half by ESPN, Curtin said that he expected Nashville SC to open up more as the clock ticked up in order to send their full stadium home happy. Curtin once again was right as the hosts turned up their pressure. Randall Leal had a go from a long way out with a low-shot that Blake turned aside. On the other end the Union turned to patience with a second chance from a set piece nearly opening the scoring. Captain Alejandro Bedoya found himself open in the box in the 53rd minute but saw his shot stopped at the doorstep by Zimmerman.
Looking to exploit on the counter, Curtin brought on Cory Burke for a more direct approach as the hosts. The Union capitalized in the 66th minute as Daniel Gazdag intercepted an attacking throw in from the hosts. Seeing the high line from the center backs, the Hungarian sent a volley over the top and into the path of Uhre. The Dane patiently chased down the pass and then shrugged off Zimmerman with a cut back. With only the keeper to beat, he timed his shot perfectly as it slid under Joe Willis for Uhre’s and GEODIS park’s first goal.
Trailing by a goal, Nashville went into a full attack mode as they looked to equalize. The tying goal would come via the penalty spot, rewarded after the referee spotted a handball by the Union during a Nashville corner kick. Leal stepped to the spot and again went with a low shot to Blake’s right but this time it snuck in by an inch with five minutes remaining.
Fueled by the equalizer, Nashville went into overdrive as they sought out a winner. In the 90th minute the match nearly took another turn as referee Chris Penso was summoned to the monitor by the Video Assistant Referee for another potential hand ball. After a long look, Penso stayed with his original decision and waved play on. The Union tried to spoil the match in the dying moments with a final try from a set piece but Wagner’s service was snatched out of the air by the keeper.
Philadelphia Union continues its busy match road swing as they head to the west coast for an East vs. West showdown against LAFC. The two sides will face off for the first time since March 2020 on Saturday, May 7th with kick off set for 11 p.m. ET. Union fans can watch the late night contest with coverage beginning at 11 p.m. ET on PHL17 and PhiladelphiaUnion.com.