Concacaf Champions Cup

Uhre's extra time winner sends Union to Concacaf Champions Cup Round of 16


Philadelphia Union was pushed to its limits with a 120-minute affair that saw the Union prevail via a 94th minute winner from Mikael Uhre for a 6-5 aggregate series win over Deportivo Saprissa.

Tuesday night’s Concacaf Champions Cup contest had it all with six goals scored, lengthy VAR checks, and even the Union finishing down a man during extra time but the Union battled just like the city they represent to advance and host C.F. Pachuca in the next round. 

Philadelphia Union will open the Round of 16 in front of their home fans with the series kicking off on Tuesday, March 5th at Subaru Park. Kick off is set for 7PM ET with tickets for the contest now on sale.

Tickets on Sale For Round 16

Tickets on Sale For Round 16

The Boys in Blue are marching on in Concacaf Champions Cup and will host the opening leg of the Round of 16 against Liga MX's CF Pachuca on Tuesday, March 5th.

Deportivo Saprissa braved the unpredictable East Coast weather to play Philadelphia Union in 50 degree and raining conditions on the banks of the Delaware River. After battling to a 3-2 draw in Costa Rica exactly seven days prior, Head Coach Jim Curtin sent out an new-look lineup, calling on depth and fresh legs with a spot into the Round of 16 on the line. 

Curtin made five changes to last Tuesday’s lineup, opting for new faces in each position group. 25-year-old first-year goalkeeper Oliver Semmle took over for Andre Blake, who was unable to play due to injury, and on defense, Olivier Mbaizo and Jack Elliot replaced Nate Harriel and Damion Lowe at right back and center back respectively. In the midfield, Curtin swapped Venezuelans, including Jesus Bueno in the first XI over José Martinez, but it was the change to the front three was that was most surprising, with the team’s most recent field signing, forward Markus Anderson earning his first Philadelphia Union start, joining Daniel Gazdag and Julián Carranza up top.

It was a back-and-forth battle on the riverfront as Philadelphia Union and Saprissa traded goals through the first 30 minutes of the first half. 

The home team started strong, dominating possession in the first five minutes, with Kai Wagner serving his first corner of the match to Carranza for a header chance in the six minute, but his effort missed barely over the net. Two minutes later the Union were back on the attack when Bueno found an opportunity for a shot but his effort lacked the power to get past Saprissa’s keeper, landing in his gloves.

VAR was put to work early and often in the first half, called upon in the 10th minute when Javon East, one Saprissa’s two changes from their lineup last week, went down in the box while driving toward the net. He appeared to be in pain, and his reaction spurred a second look from the Video Assistant Referee to decide whether or not a penalty should be dealt, ending in favor of the visiting team. After a lengthy check Saprissa was awarded a penalty kick which Luis Paradel converted to give the visitors momentum.

It was short lived as Carranza answered back moments later as he cashed in on his second header of the contest. Homegrown Quinn Sullivan continued his strong start to 2024, playing in the pin-perfect cross into the box against a defensive shape that the Argentine striker redirected past the keeper. Expectedly, the equalizer sent Subaru Park into an eruption, but momentum was stifled when  the official opted to use VAR to check if Carranza was offsides. After four minutes of review, Carranza’s nod into the net was ruled a goal and game action resumed. 

Saprissa didn’t slow after the Union equalizer, as they caused Semmle to step up for a 23rd minute save. The young keeper stifled the effort from Javon East which Anderson rerouted the ensuing rebound away from the Union’s box.

In the 27th minute, Philadelphia Union knotted the score 2-2 courtesy of Sullivan’s vigilance on offense. Anderson ripped a shot from the top of the box, but Saprissa’s keeper got a hand on it, then Daniel Gazdag attempted to put the ricochet in but was blocked. Third time proved to be the charm, as Sullivan collected the ball for a blast from the right side before the keeper could steady himself after Philly’s first two attempts.

Saprissa didn’t let Philadelphia hold their first lead of the match for long, 19-year-old Costa Rican national Warren Madrigal heading the ball into the net for his second goal against Philadelphia Union during the series.

With the next goal crucial to the overall series, Curtin turned to veteran Alejandro Bedoya at the break for Markus Anderson. The change saw Sullivan push into a more forward position along side Carranza hoping for more magic in the final 45 minutes of the series.

Sullivan set-up another chance for the Union, starting the second half off strong, beating his defender on the right side for a cross to Carranza into the box, but it was blocked. Bedoya found the ball for a shot that was stopped, unfolding into a Union corner that they were unable to capitalize on. Philly continued to push for the next goal with Kai Wagner attempting a crack from long range in the 52nd minute that soared into the River End.

Concacaf after dark showed itself in the fifth goal of the contest with Saprissa captain and playmaker Mariano Torres rising up to the moment. After the visitors earned a free kick just outside the 18, Torres fired a golazo from 19-yards out to put the Costa Rican side even on road goals.

With the score standing at 3-2 and the possibility of two 15-minute extra time halves looming if it remained the same, Curtin made changes sooner than later, sending Jose Martinez and Mikael Uhre into the match for Jesus Bueno and Quinn Sullivan in the 65th minute. 

Neither side would go quietly to extra time with both looking to end it after 180 minutes. As the Union sought to create on the counter, the visitors looked to do just the same with Semmle making a massive save Torres in the 85th minute of play.

Philly was tested even more before extra time when Jack Elliott was sent off for a challenge in the added time that saw the Union down a man with 30 minutes of extra time looming. Forced to make a defensive sub along the backline, Gazdag was taken off in favor of 

Damion Lowe on the free kick. Fellow substitute Chris Donovan tried ot win it just before the end of regulation with a one-man breakaway that drew a yellow card from the visitors but ended the clock.

With the aggregate score knotted up at 5-5 and even on road goals, two 15-minute periods of extra time were added to find a winner.

Despite being down to 10 on the pitch, Philly delivered the first blow of the heavyweight bout from forward Mikael Uhre. Relying on set pieces to provide the best chance for a goal down a man, the Union delivered in the 94th minute with Wagner’s service skipping through the box to a wide open finish from the Danish striker.

Saprissa would throw everything the visiting side it could to find a winner, with a nervy sequence that saw Semmle called upon to make quick stops and get a fortunate bounce off the post to see out the result.