Jim Curtin named an unchanged lineup from the first leg of the Union’s Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League matchup with Deportivo Saprissa, and his squad rewarded him with a stellar 4-0 victory that sees them through to the quarterfinals of the tournament. Jamiro Monteiro was the star, providing two goals and two assists.
Kacper Przybylko and Anthony Fontana were the recipients of Monteiro’s helpers as Philly staked their claim as one of the best clubs in North America at the moment.
The first international match at Subaru Park kicked off with the Union coming out strong behind a high press that had a young Saprissa side on the back foot. The Boys in Blue nearly doubled their aggregate lead in the opening moments when Jakob Glesnes scooped a rebound toward goal from just outside the six yard box, only to see it pop back off the post at him.
Olivier Mbaizo looked to play between the lines from the right side of defense as captain Alejandro Bedoya created space for the newly installed starting right back.
In the 19th minute, Bedoya stepped into a passing lane in midfield and started a counterattack that nearly found Kacper Przybylko at the back post. Mbaizo and Przybylko almost rekindled their first leg magic minutes later but the big striker’s behind-the-leg shot spun outside the near post.
Emotions came to a head in the 35th minute when Jedwin Lester’s wild slide tackle caught Jamiro Monteiro high. A yellow card was shown as both teams gathered to exchange pleasantries around the spot of the foul.
At halftime, Curtin knew his team was close to a breakthrough and he pushed them to make it early. Fancy footwork from Przybylko found Anthony Fontana at the edge of the box and the homegrown weaved through defenders until he was tripped just inside the area. Monteiro buried the penalty to put the home side up 2-0 on aggregate.
The dam had burst, and Philly flowed forward with confidence. Monteiro swerved in a sharp corner kick that flew just over Jack Elliott’s head, but Przybylko rushed onto the scene to pound the second goal of the match into the net in front of ecstatic, bouncing River End supporters.
Monteiro had scored one and assisted another, but he wanted to secure this man of the match status. Turning in space atop the box, he slid an inch-perfect ball through to Anthony Fontana and the attacker powered it ruthlessly into the far corner.
With his side sailing, Curtin provided homegrown Jack McGlynn with his first professional appearance and Quinn Sullivan with his second. Stuart Findlay got his first minutes with the snake on his shirt and Sergio Santos made a welcome return from injury.
As the match wound down with Philly still in full control, Monteiro grabbed the spotlight one final time. Santos played a looping ball across midfield and when it was misplayed, Monteiro galloped down the left channel and coolly slotted home his second of the match.
The comprehensive victory puts the Union into the quarterfinals of the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League and sets up a showdown with Atlanta United FC. The first leg will take place between April 27-29 in Atlanta with the second leg in Philadelphia between May 4 and May 6.
Next up for the Union is a trip to MLS Cup Champion Columbus Crew. Philly was the best team in the regular season in 2020 but the Crew took care of business in the playoffs. Both squads look likely to battle it out at the top of the Eastern Conference again in 2021. Tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET on FS1.