Philadelphia’s latest match once again saw a weather delay for the third consecutive contest with the Union’s battle in Orlando for just under a hour due to a Florida thunderstorm. When the opening whistle finally rang out, fans were treated to a clash of two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference that went back and forth. Playing in front of the home fans, Orlando City grabbed momentum early in the match with Benji Michel timing his run after Nani connected with Mauricio Pereyra. Michel found himself in on frame in the 11th minute and slide a shot just under the dive from homegrown Matt Freese.
The hosts nearly doubled their lead four minutes later but the Union were fortunate as Pereyra’s right-footed shot went wide.
With the early wake up call, Jim Curtin’s squad grew into the match and controlled play for the remainder of the half in search of a first-half equalizer. The new midfield tandem of Jamiro Monteiro and Daniel Gazdag combined for a scoring chance in the 18th minute with the Hungarian sending a right-footed curler from distance right after Monteiro’s own shot was blocked by an Orlando City defender.
Philly nearly tied things up with strong set piece play late in the half. Jack Elliott found himself open at the near post off a Monteiro corner kick in the 35th minute while Jakob Glesnes headed a free kick from Kai Wagner wide just before the halftime whistle.
At the start of the second half, both teams vied for control of the game. The Union worked the ball to Gazdag when they found the final third but his radar leaned just left of the goalmouth.
Orlando responded by looking for Nani down the left. When the winger got to the endline in the 52nd minute, he cut back a floater and the ball fell to Andres Perea ten yards from goal. Before the midfielder could lash the ball at Matt Freee, Jose Martinez slid in to break up the play.
Perea could not be denied in the 58th minute when he redirected a low cross from the right across goal and into the far side netting. The goal gave Orlando a two goal cushion and raised the urgency of the Union’s play.
It took time for Philly to break through, but Olivier Mbaizo’s pinpoint low cross from the right picked out Przybylko in stride and the striker eased the ball into the right corner of the net.
Sensing that he needed more bodies in midfield, Curtin pushed Monteiro forward and replaced Santos and Gazdag with Leon Flach and Quinn Sullivan. The latter stayed higher up the pitch but dropped beneath Przybylko to break up play through the center.
With his bench affected by the Gold Cup, Curtin turned to his homegrowns for an injection of energy. Sullivan began peppering the goal with low line drives that Pedro Gallese coolly gathered.
After a lengthy delay for Robin Jansson to be treated for a nose injury, Sullivan had his best chance of the night through a combination with Jack McGlynn, on as a substitute.
A high turnover let Jack Elliott stay up the pitch and he stretched a long leg out to poke the ball to Przybylko at the top of the final third. Sprinting past the defense, Elliott found himself in a position normally reserved for strikers as he collected a smooth pass from Przybylko, twisted his hips to find space, and saw a fizzing shot pushed wide by Gallese. McGlynn was alert to the rebound and crossed for Sullivan at the back post, but the homegrown’s shot smashed into the face of the retreating defender on the goalline.
No more chances were forthcoming and Philadelphia now looks to get back on track a they seek revenge against Inter Miami CF. After Phil Neville’s side ended the Union’s unbeaten run at Subaru Park in April, the Union will come out hungry for three points on Sunday, July 25th. PHL17 and PhiladelphiaUnion.com will be the place for Union fans to take in the action.