Jakob Glesnes’ blast was not only the latest game winning goal in club history but it sent Philadelphia Union through to the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a 1-0 win over rivals, New York Red Bulls.
From the opening kick of the Round One playoff match, the atmosphere at Subaru Park echoed the intense clashes of the past that have made Philadelphia Union versus New York Red Bulls a cracking rivalry for both sides. The visitors sought to impose their chaotic defensive system from the start, controlling the tempo for the first five minutes to see if the Union’s vaunted defense would hold strong. They did, and two-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake was dialed in, timing his movements to deny access to far post crosses from the Jersey side.
Veteran Jamaican right back Alvas Powell gave the Union faithful an early chance to get on their feet in the seventh minute. Kai Wager went for the long throw in and connected with best friend Kacper Przybylko at the near post. With a defender on his hip, the forward flicked the header centrally into the box. A 50/50 duel saw the ball bounce to the opposite end of the box where Powell blasted a right-footed shot that was saved by former Union goalkeeper Carlos Coronel.
As the clock ticked on and the pressure multiplied, so did the physicality of the match. Powell and Omir Fernandez crossed paths and exchanged pleasantries multiple times in the opening forty-five but only Red Bulls midfielder Drew Yearwood got his name in the referee’s pocketbook with a yellow card for leaving an elbow high on Paxten Aaronson.
There was far more space available in the second half as the teams looked to turn a back-and-forth affair into something they could control.
Aaronson needed to become his side’s creative outlet, and he flashed the confidence and skill to do so as the hour mark approached. In a move kicked off by a spectacular central pass from Bedoya, the ball popped out to Aaronson at the top of the box. He lashed the opportunity wide but that sniff of action catalyzed the young playmaker.
Next, he found himself in a tight spaces up the left but some incredible footwork and change of pace opened a window for a low leading pass to Daniel Gazdag, who could not produce the separation necessary to drive home the opener.
After 60 minutes, Jim Curtin gave the opponent a new look to deal with by flipping Aaronson for Sergio Santos. The Brazilian striker moved up top alongside Przybylko as the midfield shaped into a diamond behind them.
In the 64th minute, a corner kick for the visitors became a flash point after a scramble in the box saw bodies flying around as shots were fired in from distance.
Any time the Union moved the ball to the flanks, they could progress into Red Bulls’ half. Getting there, however, was difficult. The Red Bulls clipped and harried every Union player, and only the cleanest pass made it through.
Once the 70th minute rolled around, Philly had worn down their opponents and had space to operate with Santos and Przybylko pushing the defense deep.
Santos and Przybylko twice nearly combined for a winner. First, Santos broke through down the left and pulled out a magician’s stop on the endline before finding Przybylko in the middle, but the striker skied his open shot over the frame. The roles switched moments later when Przybylko twisted in a throughball from the right that a required a last-minute sliding defensive intervention as Santos slid through, ready to finish.
The late introduction of Cory Burke and Jack McGlynn further cemented the Union’s ascendancy as the latter immediately proceeded to tear apart the visitors’ defense with angled throughballs that put defenders on their heels. McGlynn’s incisive passing twice sent strikers through alone but the final touch would not come.
In the first half of extra time, the space-destroying styles of both squads met their match as the teams fought for that clean opening that could turn into a winner. Again and again the Union release Santos and Burke, with Daniel Gazdag in constant pursuit of the play to gather a loose ball and find an opening.
At the start of the second extra time period, Burke found Santos alone in the center but the striker’s shot slammed into goalkeeper Carlos Coronel’s body as he made himself big. Burke had a final chance in the 117th minute but the ball was swept off his feet at the last moment.
But fate still had a twist in store, and it had been hinting at this particular ending for two years.
Jakob Glesnes, scorer of the best two goals in MLS since 2019, chested down a bouncing ball at the top of the box after Red Bulls half-cleared Jose Martinez’s low cross. Glesnes turned his body, whipped his leg, and tucked a gorgeous dipping ball behind Carlos Coronel.
Subaru Park erupted; all of Philly heard it.
And that is how the Red Bulls season ended, and the Union’s continued to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
he epic win means the Philadelphia Union will host an Eastern Conference Semifinal at Subaru Park on November 28 against the winner of Nashville SC and Orlando City SC. Tickets for the match are on-sale immediately and can be purchased by clicking the image below or by clicking here! Kick off from Subaru Park is set for 5:30 p.m. ET with coverage on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.