With a goal from Jesus Bueno 27 seconds into the match, Philadelphia Union knocked off its third Liga MX opponent with a 3-0 win over CF Monterrey in the Leagues Cup Third Place Playoff.
The Venezuelan midfielder continued his standout performances in the tournament between MLS and Liga MX with his second goal jumpstarting the offense while homegrown Jack McGlynn picked out a perfect pass for Mikael Uhre in first-half stoppage time to double the Union’s advantage before the break. Alejandro Bedoya added a third goal for the hosts, coming off the bench to score for the second-straight match.
With the win the Boys in Blue are headed back to the Concacaf Champions Cup for the third time in club history via the Leagues Cup automatic berth for the top three finishers in the inaugural tournament. The Union also walk away as the most successful MLS side against the clubs from Mexico with four wins against Monterrey, Queretaro F.C. and Club Tijuana.
How It Went Down
The Boys in Blue returned to their 4-4-2 diamond for the Third Place contest with homegrown Quinn Sullivan paired atop the lineup with Mikael Uhre. Leading scoring Daniel Gazdag led the diamond midfield with Jack McGlynn, Jesus Bueno and Jose Martinez setting the tone in the middle of the pitch.
Head Coach Jim Curtin wanted a response from the squad and for the group to set the tone early and they delivered and then some. Off the opening kick, the Boys in Blue immediately went onto the attack against the Monterrey side filled with reserves eager to make an impression. Bueno gathered possession and raced to the top of the box where he chipped the ball over the top that deflected off a defender but into Uhre’s path. The Danish forward ripped a hard pass on the grass for Gazdag for the one timer that crashed off the post. The rebound trickled centrally for Bueno who continued his run and put it in the back of the net for the lead only 27 seconds into the match.
CF Monterrey attempted to answer on their own first possession which saw Martinez on the receiving end of a flicked ball that went right off the Venezuelan’s face. With the crowd silent, Brujo received treatment but remained in the contest to the pleasure of the Union faithful.
Both sides settled into the match with the Liga MX side attempting combination passes to find space. With number committed because of the early deficit it allowed the Union opportunities to counter with the speed of their two forwards.
After the visitors settled for a long distance attempted that landed in the River End, the Union went direct with Uhre receiving a pass over the top then holding up the attack for numbers to join him. A sequence of passes between McGlynn and Wagner saw a pass centrally to Martinez who needed no invitation to step into the open space and rip a shot from outside the box that forced a diving stop.
The chemistry for the visitors rose as the match ticked on with a long spell of possession seeing Rayados nearly equalizer in the 35th minute. Building through the middle after the Union had committed numbers forward, Monterrey sprung a pass out wide for Edson Gutierrez to whip in a dangerous cross. With the sunning creeping through Subaru Park and right at into the eyes of the Union defense, Victor Guzman got a boot at the back post on the service but sent it wide of the goal and out for a goal kick.
Moments later again it was the Union going direct with Wagner forcing a turnover and quickly getting the ball to Gazdag. Turning and seeing the run from Sullivan, the Union’s No. 10 threaded a through pass under the boots of Guzman to send the Union homegrown 1v1 against Monterrey’s captain Sebastian Vegas. The center back opted for a sliding tackle at the edge of the box and was successful to poke it free and out for a corner.
Philly kept up the pressure knowing a second goal was a just reward for their first half play. After McGlynn earned a free kick on the left side of the attack, Wagner delivered another precision cross that picked out an unmarked Gazdag for a header that went inches wide. In stoppage time the Union jumped on a poor back pass between the defense with Uhre setting up another Union corner. Wagner again teed up another with the second ball setting up a hard shot from Elliott that forced a tough save.
The pressure paid off just before the break with McGlynn chasing down a deflected ball in the offensive side of the pitch and seeing the second level pass. With Uhre already in stride, McGlynn hit a left-footed pass between a pair of defenders to set up a sliding attempt by Uhre that went past the keeper and the Union fully in control.
CF Monterrey Head Coach made a pair of changes at the break with Erick Carballo and Luis Romo hoping to bring some energy into the attack as they sought a comeback.
Philly needed only four minutes to earn the first set piece chance of the half and nearly added a third off a recycled ball. Tracking down the half clearance from the visitors, the ball went out wide to McGlynn who nearly got his second assist of the evening with hard pass to the back post for Sullivan that just missed.
The Boys in Blue kept on pushing for a third and thought they had it in the 63rd minute when Wagner cut inside and ripped a shot with his right boot that blasted by the keeper but off the post. Sullivan ran right to the rebound and ripped a hard shot into the back of the net but saw the offside flag immediately raised. A lengthy look by the Video Assistant Referee ensued with the original call ultimately staying.
Motivated by the disallowed goal, the Union right back onto the attack with substitutes Alejandro Bedoya and Chris Donovan on for Sullivan and Bueno. Going direct with a numbers advantage, Gazdag shot a pass to the feet of Uhre that deflected slightly but still in the Union’s possession. With the angle cut off, Gazdag recycled the play to allow a shot from McGlynn that skipped wide.
With a third goal building and building, the Union again kept pushing and were rewarded with a finish from Bedoya once again. Once again coming from a second ball, Jakob Glesnes floated a cross into the box where Donovan smashed a header that forced a reaction save by goalkeeper Luis Cardenas. The ball spun to the back for Bedoya who smashed the ball into the grass and under the rushing defender for his second-consecutive game with a goal.
Philadelphia Union returns to Major League Soccer play next weekend with the short trip down I-95 for a rivalry showdown at D.C. United. Kick off from the nation's capitol is set for 7:30PM ET on Saturday, August 26th with the action on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.