Cory Burke made his first matchday squad since his return to the United States and Jim Curtin gave Jack Elliott a chance to boss the midfield, but once again it was a homegrown goal that lifted the Union to victory. Anthony Fontana’s acrobatic second half finish was the difference as Philly moved back within three points of Toronto FC in the race or the Eastern Conference crown.
The return of Ray Gaddis and Jakob Glesnes boosted the defensive corps while Alejandro Bedoya’s absence due to yellow card suspension opened the door for Jack Elliott to step into midfield behind Anthony Fontana.
As the Revs sought to hold the ball, the Union pressed forward to disrupt the hosts’ game. Elliott dropped deep to start plays for Philly but long passes out of the back often meant they couldn’t get numbers around the recipient.
In the 9th minute, Elliott collected a pass from the right and found Aaronson alone in the box. The pass was so good that the Homegrown midfielder didn’t realize he had enough time to take an extra touch and rushed a shot.
DeJuan Jones answered with a long shot that Andre Blake corralled with ease. The Revs were dominating the ball but settling for crosses and attempts from distance. Although Bruce Arena’s side created space by switching the field regularly, the Union worked tirelessly and saw defensive support from Aaronson and Jamiro Monteiro help keep the defense tight and in control of their box.
A 33rd minute counterattack led by Kacper Przybylko gave Aaronson a chance to send the ball back to the big striker at the top of the box. No opening presented itself and Przybylko was forced to lay the ball off and Philly settled for a corner kick.
Although the initial ball in was half-cleared, the Union broke through on the second ball in. Kai Wagner ran onto Przybylko’s pass to the endline on the left and drilled in a low cross that Andrew Farrell turned into the net under Matt Turner’s outstretched arms.
Anthony Fontana struggled to assert himself on the match as New England used two holding midfielders to bracket him. In the 41st minute, though, Fontana had a chance to turn and start a break only to be hauled down at midfield.
Adam Buksa looked to give his side a jumpstart in the second half by firing from very deep. He followed that up with a 52nd minute glancing header that spun outside of Blake’s goal.
Blake was finally troubled in the 65th minute when Teal Bunbury, who had been lurking all evening, connected from the center of the box with a vicious header. Blake sprang to his right and took the ball on a short hop, brushing it away without fuss.
And then Fontana, who had remained quiet in the second half, asserted himself. The Revs gave Monteiro too much time to scan the pitch and he spotted Fontana swerving a run around Matt Polster. As the ball bounced, Fontana arranged his body and executed a stunning, awkward, and beautiful finish that looped over a stranded Turner.
In the 77th minute, Cory Burke made his first Union appearance since April 2019. Jim Curtin had already switched in Ilsinho for Sergio Santos and now he gave Andrew Wooten and Burke a chance to lead the line in place of Przybylko and Fontana. The positivity surrounding Burke’s return was short-lived as Tajon Buchanan pulled one back for the home side. Patiently moving in on Wagner, he unleashed a rocket that snuck under the crossbar beyond Blake.
Moments later, Buchanan thought he had a second but was rightly judged just offside.
The Revs continued to press forward and a swerving free kick from Lee Nguyen was nudged around the goal frame by Blake in full flight.
Aaronson was nearly set up for a blast by Ilsinho but New England surrounded him and he couldn’t get a shot off. In the final moments, Aaronson almost picked out Burke with an eye-popping throughball but the Jamaican striker was a step off the pace in his return and couldn’t reach it.
The Union are now set up to face Toronto FC on October 24 at home, live on PHL17, in a showdown to decide who belongs atop the Eastern Conference. A few tickets are still available for that match, so nab yours tonight.