Match Recap

Gazdag, Carranza see Philadelphia Union hand Minnesota United first loss of season


Philadelphia Union continued its unbeaten form in MLS play on Saturday afternoon, claiming a 2-0 victory over Minnesota United at Subaru Park.

With a rowdy crowd cheering on the Boys in Blue, the Union got the game-winning goal from Daniel Gazdag and he finished off a Kai Wagner corner kick in the 16th minute of play. Philly doubled its lead late as Julian Carranza lone goal was all the Union needed as they limited the Loons to just 3 shots on goal en route to their first clean sheet in MLS play.

The 2pm match was the team’s first regular season game in their home fortress since their season opener against Chicago Fire, and they welcomed one of only four other teams that had gone unbeaten since their start.

Head Coach Jim Curtin opted to send out one of his strongest starting lineups of the season, despite five of his first XI having just returned from national team duty. One of which was Andre Blake, who made his regular season return to Subaru Park after missing the home opener due to injury. Nate Harriel, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, and Kai Wagner as his last line of defense, while José Martinez started in the midfield with Homegrowns Jack McGlynn and Quinn Sullivan. As for the front three, the Designated Player trio in Daniel Gazdag, Julian Carranza, and Mikael Uhre were back together in their typical formation.

Before the game kicked off, Union faithful celebrated a special milestone for one of team’s most cherished fans. Fearless 43 member Charlotte recently finished her childhood cancer treatment, and she was the honorary drum striker, alongside her best friend Kai Wagner for a memorable rendition of the team’s pre match ritual.

The official start of the game fell as the day’s weather peaked, with 60 degree temperatures and a breeze off the Delaware River setting the stage for the team’s lone afternoon game on the schedule this season.

Neither team created much in the opening five minutes, but in the sixth, cross field ball movement from Glesnes to Wagner led to Uhre finding the ball near scoring territory around the left side of the box, but a unsuccessful pass toward Martinez allowed Minnesota to reclaim possession.

Minnesota got the ball near the River End, in the ninth minute, but a combined defense effort from McGlynn and Martinez, starting with a Nate Harriel header clearance effort, stifled the Loons attack.

In the 10th minute, Jose Martinez was taken down in the Union’s attacking end near the right sideline, winning a free kick that Kai Wagner sent toward Harriel near the right post, but the American right back’s diving effort toward the net didn’t unfold in his routine header chance-fashion, instead went out of play.

Wagner serviced his first corner of the match in the 16th minute, and his pinpoint placement into a crowded box found the foot of Daniel Gazdag, who corralled the chaos to collect and place the ball in the back of the net. Selfless ball movement amidst aggressive defense from Minnesota nearly saw the Union get another, when Mikael Uhre used his strength to maintain possession and get the ball to Quinn Sullivan, who took a powerful shot from the right side, but it landed in the gloves of keeper Dayne St. Clair.

Minnesota fired back, finding the ball near the net, but a collision between their out-of-position Homegrown centerback Devin Padelford and Jack Elliott prevented any creation.

A spotlight was on Jack McGlynn’s prolific left foot when he powered a perfectly-timed pass toward a marked Uhre, who beat his defender and found Gazdag for a cross into the box, but none of their teammates made it down in time to descend on the box.

In the 26th minute, Sullivan serviced a pass across the box that could’ve became a goal, but contact in the busy box caused it to land in an empty left side of the field. Wagner reclaimed it and put it toward where Uhre had been, but the Dane had already switched gears to defense. 

10 minutes later, another Sullivan-led play happened very similarly, but his pass again sailed in  front of the net then out of play. Wagner was able to take a corner because of it, but it went out of play by way of Minnesota again. On the second try, it hit one of the multitude of Union heads gone airborne in an attempt to knock it toward the net, then out of touch again. 

The Loons sought to steal an equalizer just before the break with a quick attack up the right side. Former New York Red Bull homegrown Caden Clark drifted wide before centering a pass at the feet of front man Robin Lod. With the defense stepping up, Lod threaded a lead pass into the box for Teemu Pukki who ripped a quick shot that was denied by Blake.

Philadelphia Union resumed their aggressive attack early in the second half, with a dangerous pass just moments after the whistle resumed play as Harriel sought to hit Uhre advancing toward the net but it was that was just mistimed. It stayed the Sullivan show for half two, has he was centimeters away from becoming a goal of the year candidate in the 52nd minute. A Wagner corner bounced toward the homegrown, who suspended his body in the air to volley the ball toward St. Clair in net, but the near-golazo hit the crossbar instead. 

Both sidelines started to make changes with Curtin being the first of the afternoon with a 66th minute change that saw team captain Alejandro Bedoya to replace Uhre. The midfield for a forward swap promptly saw the Union lineup morph . With his addition, the team morphed into 4-4-2 formation with Bedoya in the midfield. Minnesota’s Head Coach Eric Ramsay answered with subs of his own in the four minutes later with midfield additions Tani Oluwaseyind and Alejandro Bran to the mix to replace Pukki and Trapp. 

The Union were forced into a change in net in the 74th minute as Andre Blake picked up an injury and couldn’t resume. In stepped Oliver Semmle fresh off a MLS Team of the Matchday performance against the Timbers a week ago to continue the clean sheet.

Philly didn’t rest after the keeper swap as they continued to send in crosses from the flank via Sullivan, Wagner, Harriel and even Jose Martinez that saw the Union rewarded numerous set piece chances. With numbers committed for an insurance goal, Minnesota saw its chance to counter in the 81st minute as they cleared quickly and took advantage of their numbers waiting at the top of the box. The Loons converted with a finish from Bongokuhle Hlongwane however the assistant referee raised his flag as Tanitoluwa Oluwaseyi was offside in the lead up to the goal. A quick check from the Video Assistant Referee confirmed the call and the shutout remained intact.

The Boys in Blue went right back to work and doubled their advantage as Bedoya won a second ball in the air and quickly flicked it forward for Carranza at the edge of the box. 1v1 against the keeper, Carranza kept his strong scoring form with the smooth finish in the 84th minute to make it 2-0 for the Union.

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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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