Match Recap

Carranza's Brace, Brick Wall Blake lead Union to Leagues Cup win over Club Tijuana


Behind a brace from Julian Carranza and a crucial penalty kick save from Andre Blake, Philadelphia Union defeated Club Tijuana, 3-1, in their Leagues Cup opener.

The intensity of the tournament was on display just 30 seconds after the opening whistle rang out from Subaru Park as the visitors forced a turnover and looked in on goal. The Xolo’s leading goalscorer Carlos González was on the ball and drove into the 18 but was chased down with an incredible hustle display from MLS All-Star Jose Martinez to defend the net and earn a goal kick.

After another impressive tackle inside the box from Martinez, the Union went direct with Julian Carranza out side against Miguel Herrera’s 3-5-2 formation but the visitors survived the first attack from the Boys in Blue.

With a new opponent on the other side of the pitch, set piece chances were elevated with Philly nearly getting the first goal inside five minutes. Wagner served up the first corner of the night that was punched away by goalkeeper Jose Rodríguez but only to the top of the box where Quinn Sullivan was positioned. A quick touch from the homegrown saw Sullivan send quick pass out wide to Jesus Bueno on the right side of the attack. The Venezuelan cut inside and ripped a shot with his left that forced a difficult save by the keeper who again had to punch it aside. The punch took it right into the path of Carranza for the one-time shot but it was again stopped by the keeper.

A few minutes later the Union turned defense into offense as Carranza disposed his marker and put the Boys in Blue on the the attack with a 3v2 opportunity. Racing down the right side of the pitch, he shot a centering pass to Daniel Gazdag who took it to the top of the box and forced the center back duo to collapse on the Union’s No. 10. Homegrown Jack McGlynn raced up the left side and took a pass from the Hungarian for a quick left-footed shot that again forced a save from Rodriguez.

In the 18th minute again it was Martinez and Carranza with key plays to set up a scoring chance. El Brujo blasted a ball over the Tijuana defense that sprung Carranza in on goal. Battling a defender, Carranza was tackled as he fired a shot over the crossbar. The referee quickly raced over and pointed to the penalty spot and seconds later issued Tijuana’s Nicolas Diaz for DOGSO.

As Union fans have seen over and over in 2023, Gazdag was the player at the penalty spot where he remained perfect with right-footed conversion to his left to make it 1-0.

With a goal and man advantage, Philly found itself on the verge of another goal on its next attack but somehow were denied the two-goal lead. With a pass out wide to Olivier Mbaizo to unlock the defense, Philly was into the open field. The Cameroonian cut a pass into the box for Bueno that forced the keeper off his line for the first save of the sequence. The rebound spilled back outside the box for a huge blast from Jack McGlynn that was turned aside with a kick save. Again the ball stayed in the box where Carranza had three chances to make it 2-0 but was turned away with goal line stops by a pair of defenders.

Four minutes later the goal for the Argentine forward finally came but from normal. As the visitors cleared a corner, the Union regained possession via Wagner. The left back sent in a hard cross that crashed off a defender and right to the boots of Carranza who turned and put it into the back of the net. Celebrations were muted after as the offsides flag was raised. Another lengthy pause for a check from the Video Assistant Referee overturned the original decision with Carranza timing his run perfectly on the initial service from Wagner that was deflected off a Tijuana defender.

Despite the circumstances, the Liga MX side didn’t hang their heads and continued to test the Union and gained momentum to end the half. A quick throw in from the Xolos presented a scoring chance for Diego Barbosa who was denied with a rising save by three-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake. Carlos González capped off the half with a chance from inside the box that again was stopped by Blake and brought out the halftime whistle.

Tijuana came out of the locker room on a mission to equalize and were on the correct path early as Francisco Contreras sent in a cross to an unmarked Gonzalez for a blast that right in front of Blake just :42 seconds after the second half kicked off.

The visitors earned the opportunity to tie the match after the Video Assistant Referee intervened to award a penalty kick for Club Tijuana for Mbaizo’s tackle at the edge of the box against Alexis Canelo. With the match hanging in the balance the Jamaican international again proved why he’s one of the best in Concacaf with a diving stop to his left to block the bottom corner.

Head Coach Jim Curtin turned to his substitutes for an impact with Mikael Uhre and Nathan Harriel on in place of Mbaizo and Sullivan. It took just ten seconds for Uhre to do just that as Bueno punted a ball over the top for the forward to use his pace against the defense. Uhre was in on goal before getting tackled from behind by Kevin Balanta who was immediately sent off for DOGSO.

The Union turned their 11v9 advantage into the crucial insurance goal in the 71st minute with a clinical finish from Carranza. With a patient build up to find an opening in the defense, Gazdag sent a pass into the box for Carranza who backheeled a pass for Bueno. With the end line approaching, he sent it right back to Carranza for the right footed shot that went into the back of the net to make it 3-1.

Full of confidence and in search of the hat trick, Carranza looked destined for another as he raced into the box and got around substitute goalkeeper Jose Corona. With the keeper on the ground for the low block attempt, Carranza chipped the keeper but saw the cleared off the line by Rafael Fernández.

Philadelphia Union concludes its Leagues Cup Group Stage matches against Queretaro F.C. on Wednesday, July 26. Kick off from Subaru Park is set for 7:30PM with the match featuring postgame fireworks shortly after the final whistle. Tickets for the match are still available and can be secured by clicking here!

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Every match matters! In 2024, you do not want to miss your favorite matchups as the Union take on the best MLS has to offer! When we score, make sure you are there to get Subaru Park shaking!

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