A pair of goal of the week candidates by the home side were the difference as Philadelphia Union fell in their first road match of the season at Inter Miami CF, 2-0.
Embodying their head coaches' defensive mentalities, neither the Union or Miami would allow an easy look on frame. The home side broke through with the two most difficult shots of the night, stealing the highlight reels in each half with goals from outside the box that beat the three-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake.
With Josef Martinez added to the mix and searching for his first goal with Inter Miami CF, the hosts looked determined to feed the MLS legend early on. Just seconds after the opening whistle the Union defense was tested as Rodolfo Pizarro and Martinez combined for a chance in the box, but scrambling defense from Jack Elliott cleared the danger. Martinez would get another opportunity a few moments later off a quick throw in but once more the Union defense clamped down on the forward.
While the Union and Inter Miami have yet to meet in the postseason, this contest had a playoff feel as the two sides were physical from the outset and combined for 12 fouls and three yellow cards inside the first half hour. With fouls racking up, the pitch became a chess board as the hosts floated between leaving Martinez alone up top and adding a midfielder to run alongside him. Secondary runs off their front man helped Inter Miami CF open the match up. After gaining possession off a Union goal kick, the hosts attacked at speed, with Pizarro making a quick pass to his right for Corentin Jean. The Frenchman took his space and snuck a right-footed blast from outside the box past Blake to make it 1-0.
Much like in the home opener, the Union sought a response after conceding the goal and nearly tied things up off a poor Inter Miami CF goal kick. Drake Callender's flubbed restart went directly to Mikael Uhre in the 34th minute, and the forward fought off a lone Miami defender before making a selfless pass out wide to Daniel Gazdag on his right. The Union’s top goalscorer unleashed a right-footed blast but Callender, the defending MLSSoccer.com Team of the Matchday goalkeeper, made the reaction save.
Chance | Union nearly equalize in MIA
Just before the halftime whistle the Union generated another offensive opportunity off a pin-perfect ball from centerback Jakob Glesnes. Captain Alejandro Bedoya scampered into space on the right side to receive the pass and, seeing the defense settling inside the red zone, fired a low cross into the box. Gazdag ran free behind Carranza's near-post movement and the Argentine left the ball for his teammate to whip at goal, but the Hungarian rolled it wide.
Just as the hosts did in the first 45, Philly sought to open the scoring moments into the second half with a ball pinging throughout the air in front of Miami’s goal before danger was cleared. The Boys in Blue continued to charge on in search of a tying goal and turned to their depth in the 62nd minute as midfielders Jack McGlynn and Joaquin Torres took to the pitch.
The 69th minute saw the Union’s best chance to draw the contest level as Jose Martinez intercepted a pass at the center stripe and turned defense into offense with a pass forward Gazdag. The Hungarian quickly raced forward and sent a perfectly weighted ball into the box for Carranza. At a narrow angle form the right, the striker cracked a low shot at Callender but the goalkeeper held his ground to push it away before Torres failed to corral it for a second bite of the apple.
Chance | Carranza saved at the end line
The duo got another opportunity seconds later as McGlynn flicked a pass to Gazdag to send him into the red zone. Racing toward the endline, Gazdag opted for a hard cross to the near post for a diving Carranza but Inter Miami got a touch before he could send it home.
Inter Miami shifted into a 5-4-1 in the later stages of the contest to protect their lead as Robert Taylor entered as a wingback and Ariel Lassiter took over up front. Taylor immediately made his mark on the match as he doubled the advantage with a chest-to-volley golazo from outside the box in the 77th minute
Philadelphia Union continues their road trip on Tuesday night as they take on El Salvadorian side Alianza FC in the opening leg of the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16. Kick off from Estadio Cuscatlánis set for 8 p.m. ET with the broadcast nationally on FS1 and TUDN.