Match Recap

Donovan’s stoppage time winner sends Philadelphia Union to Leagues Cup Semifinal!


Chris Donovan provided the highlights with the game-winning goal in the 11th minute of second half stoppage time to help Philadelphia Union defeat Queretaro F.C. and advance to a semifinal showdown against Inter Miami CF.

Entering in the second half to provide a lift to finish the match in regulation, the 23-year-old forward did just that with a smooth finish in front of goal to redirect past the keeper a cross from Kai Wagner for the winner. Midfielder Jesus Bueno continued his breakout performance in the inaugural tournament, finding the back of the net in the 10th minute to put the Union ahead early in the contest. Queretaro F.C. continued to demonstrate their fighting spirit as they found the equalizer in the 65th minute to set up the tense but thrilling conclusion on Friday night at Subaru Park.

How it happened

Due to an unforeseen power outage delay, kickoff was pushed to 9:09 p.m., but after the first kick, it was all business for the Boys in Blue, who created a lead early and maintained it fiercely to secure another game at home.

Head Coach Jim Curtin trotted out a 3-5-2 formation to start, opting for a pair of changes to the Starting XI than he used in the teams’ first match against Queretaro in the Leagues Cup group stage. This time, Olivier Mbaizo and Jack McGlynn earned the start in place of Nate Harriel and Daniel Gazdag, who had each contributed goals in the Union’s initial 5-1 victory over the Mexican side on July 26th.

Queretaro started the game with fresh faces and a new formation as well, lining up in a 3-5-2 instead of their previously used 4-1-4-1 setup. Midfielder Kevin Escamilla, midfielder Rodrigo López, right back Jaime Gómez, and goalkeeper Tapia Fernando were all new to the lineup, presenting an unseen challenge for Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s attack started early – in the 10th minute, midfielder Jesús Bueno scored his first-ever Union goal, putting the Boys in Blue ahead 1-0. The 24-year-old Venezuelan found a pass into the box from homegrown midfielder Jack McGlynn’s renowned left foot, sending the ball to the bottom left corner of the net for the score.

Queretaro’s Kevin Escamilla had a chance to equalize in the 15th minute with a shot to the top left corner from more than 35 yards out, but Union’s unshakeable net protector Andre Blake made the save.

Philadelphia’s attack didn’t slow as the first half carried on. The team took six shots, three on target, in the first 25 minutes, putting pressure on Queretaro’s young 22-year-old keeper who joined the team at the start of the year as a loan from Club América. The team finished the half ahead 1-0, preventing any opposing attacks through the first 45 minutes.

The second half started chippy with yellow cards dealt to each team in the first five minutes – one went to José Martinez in the 48th and one for Queretaro’s Óscar Manzanarez in the 50th, both for bad fouls. In the 61st, both sides made their first substitutions of the night, injecting the match with new energy. Leon Flach and Chris Donovan replaced Jack McGlynn and Mikael Uhre and Queretaro made two substitutions of their own.

Two minutes after the team changed their lineups, Queretaro’s possession control unfolded into an equalizing goal off a quick forward ball. Gomez sent a cross into the box, finding Angel Sepúvelda who sneaked it past Blake with an airborne shot to the opposite corner of the net. The play was reviewed for a potential offsides call, but ultimately ruled a goal.

In the 76th minute, the physicality of the matchup continued with forward Julián Carranza paying the price as he earned a free kick chance for the Boys in Blue. While the team couldn’t create an opportunity on the play, the Argentine forward was unable to continue the match and forced the quick insertion of homegrown Quinn Sullivan. As the substitution happen, Head Coach Jiim Curtin went full offensive to put the match away in regulation with a shift into the 4-4-2 diamond with the additions of Joaquin Torres and Nathan Harriel.

Sullivan’s impact on the match was noticeable from the start, forcing a tough save from the keeper in the 83rd minute with a right-footed shot from well outside the box. Kai Wagner took an 85th attempt of his own but the powerful shot soared above the goal and instead landed in The River’s End.

Despite the squandered chances, the Union’s offensive attack persisted; in his first Leagues Cup minutes, Torres used his speed to battle through midfield Queretaro traffic, drawing a yellow card from Marco García that earned Jakob Glesnes a free kick that went high and wide of the target.

Bueno took one last blast before time reached the 90th minute, and after the miss, the officials announced that an additional 10 minutes of stoppage time would be added to the game, allowing each team a vast window of opportunity to take control of the knotted match.

In extra time, the Philadelphia Union took unsuccessful boot after boot toward the net before leaving it to Torres, who’s finesse allowed him to drive toward the goal where he was fouled in the 7th minute.

The referee dealt Queretaro’s Omar Mendoza a red card, giving the Union an opportunity to score, but the play ended with the ball ricocheting off the net.

Moments before the game was sent to penalty kicks, Chris Donovan scored a 90+11th minute goal off a Kai Wagner cross, securing the win and sending the team to one of its best games at Subaru Park in Inter Miami CF and Messi.

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