With a strong Union pathway from the Academy to the MLS squad, Jim Curtin confidently turned to four homegrowns in his starting lineup against the Eastern Conference leaders, including a debut for right back Nathan Harriel. The kids were fearless, helping the Union dominate the opening 10 minutes of possession with crisp switches in the attack.
Despite the many changes to the lineup, the Union’s direct style remained seamless. The game’s first chance came in the 23rd minute after a long ball from Kai Wagner connected with Kacper Przybylko. The forward chested it down as the Union raced into the attack. Quinn Sullivan played a hard pass Paxten Aaronson who weaved into the box and forced a diving save at the near post by Revs goalkeeper Brad Knighton.
As the clock ticked up so did the Union’s confidence as Sullivan again played a crisp key pass to set up another scoring chance. Collecting a pass from Harriel, the teenager spun past his defender and raced past the midfield stripe. While the defense assumed Przybylko would be the target, Sullivan instead sent a perfectly placed pass to his left into the stride of Leon Flach, who forced another New England save.
The visitors grabbed the lead on their only good look of the opening half, taking advantage of a foul called on Harriel on the wing. Seconds after the booking, Arnór Ingvi Traustason flicked the free kick to the far post where Matt Polster knocked it home.
The match maintained a tense feel as the second half began, but the crowd was buoyed by the Union’s young lineup as they harassed New England all over the pitch. McGlynn and Bedoya closed off the Revs’ outlets and chances developed.
First Bedoya deked onto his left foot and smacked a low drive into Brad Knighton’s hands, then in the 54th minute, Aaronson skimmed a low shot too close to the New England goalkeeper.
Harriel’s energy got under Arnor Ingvi Traustason’s skin and the Icelandic midfielder hauled down the Union homegrown after he was dispossessed. The referee quickly showed him yellow, his second of the night, which Traustason off and put the Union up a man for the final 30 minutes.
Aaronson continued to be an impressive threat around the box. After a corner was only half cleared, the midfielder chested it to himself and laced a left-footed screamer toward the corner that Knighton scrambled to push wide.
Moments later, McGlynn got similar purchase on a torrential blast from the top of the box, but referee Jair Marrufo put himself between the shot and the goal to block the effort.
Up front, Przybylko was tweaking his runs to find space in the box and met a low cross with a strong header from distance that Knighton was positioned to stop.
Anthony Fontana and Brazilian debutante Davo entered the fray. The latter moved up top alongside Przybylko as Philly remained fearlessly on the attack.
Now lining up at right back, Sullivan continued to wear through the grass on the right wing, but Philly continued to find themselves firing from distance. Davo spun onto a shot from the top of the box after Fontana brought a directness to midfield that sliced through the Revs’ block.
Cole Turner made his season debut to provide a strong base in midfield as the Union pushed New England deep and Bedoya shifted wide to become a playmaker down the right.
Immediately, Turner made an impact, though somewhat surprisingly it came on the attacking end as he executed a well-timed overlapping run and earned his side a corner.
The pressure was relentless as Bedoya slid a hard ball into the center and saw it knocked away from Aaronson and Przybylko at the last moment.
Again and again, Philly’s shots landed too close to Knighton and granted the Revs lucky reprieves.
Philadelphia Union now turn their full attention to Concacaf Champions League play as they host Liga MX giant, Club America on Wednesday, September 15th. The Boys in Blue look to fight back and overcome a two-goal deficit from the first leg and will have the homefield advantage cheering them on. Kick off from Subaru Park is set for 9 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on FS1, TUDN and UniVision.