Mikeal Uhre erupted for his first hat trick with Philadelphia Union, as he helped guide the club to a 4-2 win over Toronto FC on a rainy Saturday night clash.
Uhre bagged a pair of goals in the opening half and rounded out the night with a third in the 56th minute to net the ninth hat trick in Philadelphia Union history.
With rain pouring from the skies, the Boys in Blue offense out of the gates on the front foot maintaining possession and forcing their Canadian visitors inside their own half. A poor back pass saw Toronto’s Italian playmaker Federico Bernardeschi onto the attack but midfielder Jose Martinez hustled back to chop down the play.
The Union tightened up their passing and had Toronto chasing side to side in their defensive block. With the trusty left foots of Kai Wagner and Jack McGlynn the Union’s attack were on top of the match with the duo forcing the Canadian side to overload to their side. Quick passes to the right side presented opportunities as Martinez collected a quick throw in in the eighth minute and floated in a hard cross near the penalty spot. Julian Carranza rose up and connected a headed glance which redirected wide of Sean Johnson.
The Union kept pushing with Wagner cutting a soft pass to the endline which Toronto FC thought would just trickle out of bounds. Instead McGlynn made a veteran run to get inside the defender to collect possession and rifle a cross along the slick grass to Carranza. With the defense surrounding the Argentinian, he quickly pushed a shot for the upper corner that went wide. Philly weren’t done as they immediately regained possession from the goal kick where Martinez went for his another Brujo blast that went inches wide.
Wagner to McGlynn, hard cross on the slick grass but Carranza slips as he goes for the shot and its wide.
Toronto briefly got a break from defending just past the 13th minute as outside back Richie Laryea combined with Lorenzo Insigne on the counter attack. Isolating Wagner on the left side, the German left back stayed with both to deny any sniff of goal. Using the endline as an extra defender, Wagner forced a tough centering pass from Layrea which Nathan Harriel cleared out for a corner.
After the quick stand, the Union finally broke through in the 16th minute with a bit of déjà vu from earlier in the month but to the benefit of the Boys in Blue. Attacking on the left side, McGlynn sent a pass out wide to Wagner to create the triangle of passing lanes. Thinking direct as the Union do, Wagner sent a forward pass to Carranza to lead the forward to the end line. A quick cut back pass synced up with an opportunistic run from Daniel Gazdag. With just the keeper the beat, Gazdag blasted a shot that crashed off Sean Johnson and right into defender Lukas MacNaughton whose momentum sent the ball right into the net to make it 1-0.
Philly kept pushing for more, looking to put the contest out of reach with a first-half knock out. Four minutes later after grabbing the lead the Union doubled its lead through Uhre. Martinez again on the right side of the play kicked things off with a long volley to center back Jack Elliott. The Union defender popped it up into the air where Johnson and Carranza went to collect with the forward coming out on top. Turning quickly to find an outlet, Carranza slotted a pass to Bedoya who ended up down on the ground but behind him was Uhre. Seeing the ball all the way, the Danish forward quickly hit it with a one-timer with his right that flicked off a defender and into the net for a 2-0 lead in just 20 minutes.
Setting up so many chances, McGlynn got into the mood for a goal of his own in the 26th minute, seeing the Toronto defense sagging off. Assuming the pass would be coming, McGlynn went for a strike on goal, rattling a shot off the crossbar with a left-footed blast.
The Union’s playmaking trio were back to work just past the half hour mark. After a Toronto FC offensive build up, the Union sent a pass forward to Uhre for hold up play. With the center backs pushed high up the field in search of a goal, the forward laid off a pass to Gazdag. Seeing the defense out of shape, the Hungarian threaded the defenders to spring Wagner into the offensive attack. Taking four dribbles to get into the 18, Wagner cut a pass to Carranza but the shot went wide.
Two minutes later the Union looked like they had another goal with Harriel hitting a pass on the ground and into the red zone. Gazdag connected with the pass and redirected it into the back of the net but the assistant referee deemed his run a tad early and thus offside.
Just before the halftime break, the Union did make it 3-0 with Gazdag threading a perfectly placed pass to send the forward wide open on net. With just the keeper to beat, Uhre’s blast was right on the mark to get the first-half brace.
Toronto FC tried to sneak a goal back during first half stoppage, with Italian national team playmaker Lorenzo Insigne testing Andre Blake but the three-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year went full reach to keep the scoreline unchanged going into the break.
Head Coach Bob Bradley made a pair of changes at the break with Jordan Perruzza and Shane O’Neill entering in place of Bernardeschi and MacNaughton. The move injected some life for the trailing side with Perruzza collecting a half clearance at the top of the box and sending a curler just wide of the far post.
Three minutes later Uhre completed his hat trick with a well placed finish. Again on the counter attack, the Union attacking trio went to work with Gazdag sending a pass up the right side to Carranza. Picking his head up and seeing Uhre’s run to the six, the forward hit a pass on the ground where Uhre was able to flip it over the keeper with a sliding shot.
Jim Curtin allowed for the curtain call moment for Uhre just past the hour mark, bringing on Quinn Sullivan and Leon Flach with the match at 4-0. In the 66th minute Insigne was able to snap the shut out, scoring with a world class finish from a tight angle with a right-footed shot from the left side of the box that got past Andre Blake.
Sullivan looked to re-establish the four goal advantage directly after the Toronto FC goal, forcing a low save from Johnson after a right-footed shot from outside the box.
Insigne continued to lead the Canadian’s attempted comeback with a trio of chances in a matter of moments. Mark-Anthony Kaye picked out the forward in the 77th for a right-footed blast that Blake made which was then followed up by a miss to the left of the Union frame. In the 80th the playmaker connected on goal once more but couldn’t beat Blake a second time.
In stoppage time, Toronto FC capped off the scoring as Laryea made it back-to-back matches with a goal with a right-footed finished into the bottom corner.
Philadelphia Union wraps up April with a first leg showdown of the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Semifinals against Los Angeles FC on Wednesday, April 26th at 9PM ET. Tickets for the match are still available for purchase and will go fast so don't hesitate or you'll miss out on the biggest party in Philadelphia! The match will also be broadcast nationally on both FS1 and TUDN.