Match Recap

Recap | Union begin Round of 16 with scoreless draw against CF Pachuca


Philadelphia Union opened its Concacaf Champions Cup with a 0-0 draw against CF Pachuca on Tuesday night.

Head Coach Jim Curtin sent out a crafty Starting XI, shifting pieces around to build a 4-3-2-1 formation meant to not only fill the gaps of three starters missing but also exploit an aggressive Pachuca Side. With center backs Jack Elliott and Damion Lowe suspended due to cards in Round One, homegrown Nathan Harriel shifted centrally to pair up with Jakob Glesnes in the middle of the Union defense. The defense also saw the return of three-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake, who started the game in net for the second time this season after picking up an injury in their opening contest of the year against Saprissa in Costa Rica.

Captain Alejandro Bedoya earned his first start of 2024 paired up alongside José Martinez and Jack McGlynn, two days after the 36-year-old veteran scored a stoppage time equalizer against Kansas City on Saturday. The Union midfield diamond was a triangle with playmakers Quinn Sullivan and Daniel Gazdag playing wide with Uhre as the lone striker to battle the Mexican defense.

The visitors had the morning shot of the physical contest with Nelson Deossa Suárez sending a blast directly into The River End. Philly quickly responded with a promising chance shortly thereafter when Sullivan threaded a pass to lead Uhre into the box. With just the keeper to beat and closing in quick the Danish striker drove the ball straight into the keeper’s gloves.

El Brujo was active on defense early with his competitive spirit engaged when he went down in pain after physical play against Emilio Rodriguez sent him into the boards. Moments after, he took the ball from McGlynn, sending it up the sideline to Sullivan with a clear path ahead, but the 19-year-old’s touch sent it a hair out of play.

Purposeful passing and patience from the Union slowed the pace down, with nearly every Philadelphia player taking part in the possession before Gazdag again tried to set up a 1v1 chance for Uhre that ultimately suffered the same fate as his first.

Pachuca’s first real scoring chance came off a counter in the 19th minute when a defensive mistake allowed Pachuca’s assist leader Oussama Idrissi to get out in space on the flank. Always looking to set up a goal, the 28-year-old hit a centering pass to Erick Sanchez for an one-timer that went wide of Blake in net.

Philly again was back on the attack moments after the visitor’s scoring attempt with Sullivan involved once again. The 19-year-old pressed hard on Pachuca’s keeper to bumble a save. Sullivan reclaimed possession, and lofted the ball toward Uhre in front of the goal however the chance was snuffed out by the defense.

With the halftime whistle looming, things got tight at the end of the opening half with a costly back pass from Glesnes to Blake presenting a breakaway chance for Pachuca. With the Union goalkeeper caught in no-man's land, the Union defense raced to back with both Harriel and Wagner stifling the scoring chance.

In the 44th minute, a massive defensive effort from Philadelphia, prevented Pachuca from scoring naturally, but the referee ruled that Nate Harriel’s arm was extended and hit the ball in the process. VAR intervened shortly before Salomon Rondon could take the penalty kick with the head official summoned over for another look. Once at the center review area, it was determined Pachuca had committed a handball in the build up and thus the play was overturned.

It was a chippy start to the second half, with Pachuca’s Gustavo Cabral taking down Mikael Uhre mid-dash towards the net. The official showed Cabral the yellow, giving Wagner a free kick chance, but the Union were unable to capitalize off of it.

In the 52nd minute, Sullivan tried to catch the Mexican side off guard, with Uhre advancing toward the goal as a decoy, then Gazdag darting in simultaneously feet behind, but the pass got caught between Uhre and his defender.

Oussama continued to test Blake in the 55th minute, drilling a shot toward the net, but he placed it just wide of the right post. Pachuca made their first sub in the 69th minute, replacing Emilio Rodriguez with Alexei Dominguez to spark energy into the then-scoreless game. In 70th minute, McGlynn tried a blast from distance, but with no luck, sending straight into Moreno’s gloves

Jesus Bueno was pulled from the bench group warming up on the sidelines in the 74th minute, replacing Alejandro Bedoya in the midfield. With the captain’s armband handed off to Blake, the match resumed, with an injection of speed and freshness. His presence made a difference quick, intercepting a Pachuca pass which led to McGlynn sending the ball up the field to Sullivan in a 3v2 situation. He passed it into to Uhre again, with Gazdag trailing behind and collecting, but his shot missed the open net.

79th minute, Pachuca’s Guillermo Almada made more changes, taking out Luis Rodriguez for Rene Lopez and Erick Sanchez for Elias Montiel. The Union countered with an offensive minded change to earn a game-winning goal with the injection of the speedy Markus Anderson to the pitch with three minutes later.

Philadelphia Union returns to MLS play this weekend when they welcome Western Conference foe Seattle Sounders FC to Subaru Park on Saturday, March 9th. Kick off from Chester Pa., is set for 7:30 p.m. ET with match serving as Philadelphia Union U-Serve Night presented by BIMBO Bakeries USA.

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Every match matters! In 2024, you do not want to miss your favorite matchups as the Union take on the best MLS has to offer! When we score, make sure you are there to get Subaru Park shaking!

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