Match Recap

Union rally for 2-2 draw against Chicago in MLS Opener 

Recap-CHI-022424

Philadelphia Union showed its resilience to open the season, battling back from a pair of one-goal deficits to earn a 1-1 draw at Subaru Park.

Chicago found itself with a first half lead against the run of play, with Brian Gutiérrez finding an inch of space to score from the edge of the box. The Boys in Blue turned it around in the second half with four goals finding the back of the net but half disallowed after lengthy Video Assistant Referee checks. The first came while fans were making their way back to their seats from halftime with a goalline finish from Daniel Gazdag that was called offside. 

In the 55th minute, homegrown Quinn Sullivan provided a spark with a darting run to set up a tap in for Mikael Uhre in front of goal.

Late in the match Chicago retook the lead with goalkeeper Oliver Semmle making a big stop but a rebound fell to former Union midfielder Fabian Herbers for the 2-1 lead. Like the city they represent, the Union battled with Nathan Harriel notching a goal that too was taken off the board by VAR. The Union  didn’t hang their heads as leading goalscorer Daniel Gazdag provided the tying goal in the 93rd minute to see the Union start the league campaign with a point.

How It Happened

Head Coach Jim Curtin sent out a never-before-seen lineup on Saturday night, with the lone change being Oliver Semmle taking over in net in place of Andre Blake, who suffered an adductor injury during the team’s 3-2 Concacaf Champions Cup victory against Deportivo Saprissa on Tuesday. The home opener was a monumental one for Semmle, as it marked both his MLS and club debut.

Aside from the change in net the lineup remained the same Tuesday with Quinn Sullivan and Jack McGlynn making their return to the midfield. With them in the lineup, Saturday’s starting group featured three Homegrowns, which is tied for the most for a home opener in club history. 

The Union took the field in conditions tens of degrees colder than their last match on Tuesday, but despite the winter conditions, the River End was packed with fans making their long-awaited return to Subaru Park. 

Things got off to an unfortunate start for the visitors as defender Andrew Gutman, after he went down with a non-contact injury and had to be replaced by one of the team’s newest offseason additions, 28-year-old Chase Gasper. After the replacement, it wasn’t long until the game got chippy. Julian Carranza went down in the sixth minute, spurring a Kai Wagner free kick, but the Union were unable to create a chance. 

In the 12th minute, Glesnes set Subaru Park into a roar by shutting down another one of Chicago’s marquee offseason signings in Hugo Cuypers. Glesnes, who worn the captain’s armband on Saturday night, perfectly challenged Cuypers in a breakaway toward the net with a right-footed tackle. Five minutes later the Union were on the hunt for the opening goal as homegrown Nathan Harriel hit a perfect pass  into the box right in Mikael Uhre’s path but the Danish forward was taken down and unable to earn the call.

The Union turned to a set piece to try break open the deadline in the 27th minute when Wagner’s corner attempt rebounded out of the box toward Quinn Sullivan, who attempted a boot from distance but his attempt sailed over the goal and into the crowd.

On the following Fire possession, defense showed up big with Harriel and José Martinez shutting down their opponents’ attempts at an attack with a pair of blocks. Fire nearly penetrated toward the net but Brian Gutiérrez’s second attempt at a shot missed right, just shy of the post.

Gutiérrez made the most of his next attempt just before the halftime whistle. Taking a pass from former Union midfielder Fabian Herbers from distance, the Fire playmaker wove through a pack of Union defenders to take a banger that hit the back of the net out of Semmle’s reach.

Before some fans even had a chance to return to their seats after a halftime break, Philadelphia Union’s scoring anthem rang through Subaru Park for the first time in 2024. Harriel serviced a pass to Daniel Gazdag right in front of the net, but after VAR review, the Hungarian striker was ruled offsides and the scoreboard reverted to 1-0.

Philadelphia reclaimed possession again moments after, giving Sullivan another chance to blast the ball from outside the box, but his attempt missed left. 

In the 55th minute, Philadelphia equalized the score with their first true goal of the season courtesy of Uhre, who collected a centering pass from Sullivan directly in front of Chicago keeper Chris Brady, tapping it in for the equalizer.

Late in the match Chicago retook the lead with goalkeeper Oliver Semmle making a big stop but a rebound fell to former Union midfielder Fabian Herbers for the 2-1 lead. Like the city they represent, the Union battled with Nathan Harriel notching a goal that too was taken off the board by VAR. The Union didn’t hang their heads as leading goalscorer Daniel Gazdag provided the tying goal in the 93rd minute to see the Union start the league campaign with a point.

Philadelphia Union seeks to seeks to secure its spot into the Round of 16 when they are back in action on Tuesday night against Deportivo Saprissa for the second leg of its Concacaf Champions Cup Round One matchup. Kick off from Subaru Park is set for 8:15PM with coverage on FS2 and TUDN.