The identity of the 2022 Philadelphia Union was a on full display in front of a sold out Subaru Park as the Union rallied from a second-half deficit with its potent offense to knock off New York City FC, 3-1, and advance to the 2022 MLS Cup.
The visitors cracked open the scoring in the 57th minute through a Maxi Morales goal but three-time MLS Goalkeeper Andre Blake responded with a momentum-changing save in the 60th minute to keep the contest at 1-0. The big stop gave the Union a new level of energy which was paid in goals as a quick restart saw Julian Carranza notch the equalizer in the 65th minute. Two minutes, he set up the match-winner with a headed flick to Daniel Gazdag to push the Boys in Blue into a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Two Goals, Two Minutes!
Substitute Cory Burke fought for a third, taking a blocked show of his own and making the most of his second effort to put the Union on a collision course with LAFC.
Goal | Burke adds important third goal!
With a sell out crowd packed into Subaru Park, the Eastern Conference Final was a tight affair from the opening whistle with Union midfielder Jose Martinez tested just seconds into the contest but the Venezuelan was timed his tackle to cut down a possible early counter from the visitors. Tactical questions about how NYCFC would line up and play based on player availability was answered early on as well with Justin Haak tasked with the job of playing in the middle of the visitors backline in place of Maxime Chanot.
Daniel Gazdag sought to speed up the match in the third minute of play, floating a ball over the backline that forced goalkeeper Sean Johnson to race off his line and beat Mikael Uhre to a ball at the edge of the box.
In such a tight battle the contest would see few chances in the opening half with NYC turning to its timely offside trap like they did against CF Montreal in the Conference Semifinal. On the Union’s first set piece of the evening, Wagner’s free kick floater made its way to Alejandro Bedoya for a blast but the whistle sounded due to the timely step by the defense.
The stadium was sent rocking in the 16th minute on another set piece opportunity as Wagner connected with Gazdag inside the six but the celebration was short lived as the assistant referee raced his flag to note that the Hungarian was just off against Haak.
Gazdag chance called offside
Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake wasn’t tested much in the opening half thanks in large part to his strong back line. Center back Jack Elliott made NYC’s Heber a spectator and delivered a key block in the 18th minute as Anton Tinnerholm cut into space atop the box but couldn’t sneak a shot by Elliott. In the 29th minute, Blake was tested for the only time of the half as he made a stop look routine against a left-footed shot from Gabriel Pereira. The stop quickly put the offense back to work as Julian Carranza sought to get into the contest but saw a left-footed curler go over the bar.
While the ball didn’t go in, it showed that the Union could find space on the flanks as went to it with a long ball over the top to Mikael Uhre in the 34th minute. With the NYC defense racing into the box, the forward laid off a pass for Gazdag but his shot was blocked by Haak.
Just before the two sides hit the locker room, the Union had one more go at the NYC backline as Gazdag flicked a quick ball to Carranza for a one-time blast. The Argentinian saw his right-footed shot go right at Sean Johnson which saw the contest continue a scoreless affair.
Chance | Carranza's shot saved
The Eastern Conference Champions now hit the road for the 2022 MLS Cup against Western Conference and Supporters' Shield winning LAFC. Kick off from Banc of California Stadium is set for 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, November 4th, with coverage on FOX and Univision.