Philadelphia Union became the second club to book a place in the Quarterfinals of the MLS Is Back Tournament when a 1-0 victory over New England Revolution. Andre Blake was outstanding once again in a matchup of the top two goalies in the competition, and Sergio Santos’ second half goal was enough to see the Union through.
Jim Curtin made few changes to the team that has been one of the best in Orlando. Jose Martinez returned to the holding midfield position and Jack Elliott retained his spot next to Mark McKenzie in back.
Chances were at a premium in a match where both sides struggled to build attacks. New England trapped well in midfield and the Union ensured that Gustavo Bou had little space to create in the attacking half. Wilfried Zahibo was tasked with marking Brenden Aaronson as the Revs looked to make Philly play the perfect ball in behind to breakthrough.
After both sides sent sighters past the opposing goal, Tajon Buchanon found the first big chance of the match in the 35th minute when Bou’s surprising flicked ball spun away from Kai Wagner. Alert to the danger, Blake raced off his line and forced Buchanon to rush a dinked shot that the goalie pushed away easily. The speed of Blake’s decision-making was the difference.
Five minutes later, Sergio Santos sent a warning shot across Matt Turner’s goal. Alejandro Bedoya’s excellent read cut out a flighted crossfield ball. Antonio Delamea took out the Union captain’s feet — though he escaped a caution — and the ball fell to Santos. The Brazilian cut to his left and wrapped his body around a curling shot that swung around the far post.
Santos was back at it after halftime. Replicating the shooting drill the Union do in pregame, he turned on a ball into feet from Wagner and spun a shot wide of the post. Clean contact was needed to trouble Turner and Santos didn’t get it.
Bou, the Revs expensive Designated Player, lashed a free kick at Blake’s goal in the 56th minute. From the touchline on the left, Bou sliced a shot toward the far post that Blake sprawled to push wide.
And then it was finally Santos’ time.
Jamiro Monteiro rotated into the center to collect a pass and picked out Santos with a feathered ball in behind. A loose first touch pushed the Brazilian striker wide but he made no mistake with the next touch, powering a shot from no angle into the top of the far corner and leaving Turner helpless.
Adam Buksa nearly equalized moments later when he met Buchanon’s cross with a sharp header, but Blake somehow reacted to push the ball over the frame.
Ilsinho and Warren Creavalle helped see out the match and as the final whistle blew Bruce Arena was shown a red card.
Arena and his team leave defeated while the Union roll on to face the winner of Vancouver and Sporting Kansas City on July 30 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.