Match Recap

Recap | Bedoya's equalizer sees youthful Union claim point


Philadelphia Union continued its unbeaten run to start 2024, with Alejandro Bedoya’s equalizer in stoppage time propelling the club to a 1-1 road draw at Sporting Kansas City.

With one of the youngest lineups in club history, Philadelphia Union stuck to its gameplan to give its veterans some rest before calling upon a loaded substitute’s bench to battle back for a point. That plan paid dividends with Bedoya fresh and ready to battle until the end and ultimately scoring the game-tying goal in the 95th minute with a reaction putback off a set piece.

How It Happened

Head Coach Jim Curtin’s starting lineup on Saturday night was one of his youngest to date with an average age of 24.4 years old and four homegrowns on the pitch at the opening whistle. After playing 120 minutes against Saprissa in Concacaf Champions Cup action earlier in the week and the next round kicking off Tuesday evening against Pachucag, Curtin gave multiple veterans some rest amidst the team’s busy opening schedule. The rotation presented opportunities with midfielder Jeremy Rafanello on for his first Major League Soccer start while Quinn Sullivan teamed up with Chris Donovan.

Behind the front three, Jesus Bueno, Jack, McGlynn, and José Martinez comprised the midfield that was relied upon to be the engine on both sides of the ball. Nathan Harriel moved from his natural right back to left for just the seventh time in his career, Olivier Mbaizo took over the right, and Damion Lowe manned center back with Jack Elliot, who wore the captain’s armband.

Sporting Kansas City nearly put their first goal on the scoreboard in the 11th minute, with impressive ball-movement between Daniel Sallói to Erik Thommy, who finally found Alan Pulido for a shot at the top of the box. The sell-out crowd at Children's Mercy Park began celebrations for what could’ve been their first home goal of the 2024 season, but the offsides flag was quickly raised, negating their attempt.

Less than 10 minutes later, Kansas City found their first true goal on their home pitch this season, when senior midfielder Rémi Walter took a blast from outside of the box to the left corner, grazing the post before hitting the back of the net for his seventh career Major League Soccer goal.

After allowing the opening goal, Philly’s young lineup settled down and grew into the match as halftime neared. Three minutes before the break, the Union almost equalized after Bueno flicked a McGlynn pass toward Quinn Sullivan, who powered it past Melia in net for what could’ve been his second goal in two games. However, the ref blew his whistle, calling a foul on Bueno for jumping over his defender at the edge of the box.

SKC nearly doubled its lead going into the locker room with a dangerous chance created by Salloi outside the box that forced a stop by Union goalkeeper Oliver Semmle. The 26-year-old blocked it with his body but the rebound fell to the ever-dangerous Johnny Russell got hold of the rebound, but wasn’t able to place his shot between the posts, sending it out right instead.

Curtin stuck to his pregame gameplan during the break, with veterans Alejandro Bedoya, Kai Wagner, and Daniel Gazdag brought on with the Boys in Blue down by a goal. The positions shifted again with Bedoya slotting into the right side of the midfield diamond and Bueno taking the No. 6 slot. Wagner’s injection to the game saw Harriel back to his natural left side, and Gazdag replaced Rafanello, putting an end to his first starting shift. 

The Union started the first half aggressive, with Sullivan taking a shot early in the 47th minute, missing right. Bedoya continued the attack in the 54th, faking a cross at the top right of the box to beat his defender and rip one toward the net, finding the gloves of Melia instead. 

In routine Philly fashion, one of the team’s closest chances of the night came in transition when Lowe booted the long diagonal pass from the center stripe to Sullivan. The homegrown quickly flicked it to the Union’s No. 10 which saw Gazdag collect with his chest then fire a shot off the volley and just miss wide.

Curtin continued to tap into his experienced options off the bench just before the hour mark bolstering his striker corps with Mikael Uhre on for Donovan.

Wagner brought his dangerous free kick capabilities to second half play, attempting to create a chance with a free kick in the 72nd minute. His pinpoint pass found Gazdag for a diving header, but his touch sent the ball above the net and into Kansas City’s supporters’ section.

McGlynn finished his night in the 83rd minute, with Curtin deciding to inject speed and pace into the group with recent signing Markus Anderson entering the match in his place. The substitution marked Anderson’s Major League Soccer debut after having appeared in both of the team’s Concacaf Champions Cup matchups against Saprissa.

Sporting Kansas City’s Homegrown midfielder Jake Davis broke away to find Russell for an attempt to increase their lead, but Oliver Semmle came up big with his fourth save of the night, preventing the chance. 

Anderson almost made his first MLS minutes that much more special with a header following a Sullivan send-in, but it landed just shy of the net, missing left.

In the 5th minute of stoppage time, Damion Lowe took a shot that spurred a last-chance Wagner corner, and it proved to be the chance Philadelphia had been searching for all match. Wagner’s service was punched away by Melia, but Alejandro Bedoya was prepared and positioned for the rebound, pushing it through the crowded box to the back of the net for an energizing equalizer.

With Bedoya’s score, Philadelphia maintains an unbeaten record over it’s first two league matches, leaving the midwest with one point in tow.

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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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