Match Recap

Union's unbeaten streak continues with win in Nashville


Julian Carranza and Daniel Gazdag came up big as Philadelphia Union battled back for a 2-1 road win at Nashville SC to extend its unbeaten start in MLS play.

It was a tale of two halves for the Boys in Blue as they turned to a five-man back line on the road withstand an eager attack from the home side. Nashville netted the opening goal but Philly battled back with the change to its 4-4-2 diamond netting big time goals in the final 30 minutes. Julian Carranza started the comeback when he scored his seventh goal in all competitions with a quick finish in the 62nd minute. After a hustle play from substitute Chris Donovan earned the Union a late corner kick, Jack McGlynn flicked a set piece ball perfectly to the back post for Gazdag's 90th minute winner.

Head Coach Jim Curtin sent out a new look lineup on Saturday night in Music City as two starters in keeper Andre Blake and forward Mikael Uhre were both left off of the matchday roster due to injury. 

Oliver Semmle started in Blake’s place, but he didn’t come in cold. The MLS rookie was subbed in for Blake at the 74th minute during last week’s 2-0 win against Minnesota United, finishing the clean sheet effort. Curtin started all three centerbacks with Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, and Damion Lowe playing as a trio for the first time in 2024. Up front, Quinn Sullivan was moved to Mikael Uhre’s spot. 

As for Nashville, they fielded another lineup without team captain Walker Zimmerman, who’s been out due to injury for several weeks, but they still had playmakers with Hany Mukhtar and Jacob Shaffelburg able to change the match in a hurry. 

The hosts laid on the attack from jump, finding seven corners and seven shots in the first 45 minutes, with the first coming in the fourth minute. 

The Union reclaimed possession and finally got the ball near the net in the eight minute, and Sullivan tried to capitalize on the opportunity, but set the ball toward the net into Panicco’s gloves. Carranza was close to descending on it for a score, but it was mistimed. Pannico was forced to make another save soon after, when Carranza took advantage of a throw-in from Kai Wagner, taking a shot from the left side of the box, but Pannico made the stop. 

Quick ball movement in the midfield then a long boot from Kai Wagner had the makings of a first score, but his pass, headed straight for Carranza in scoring position was headed away by Nashville’s Lukas MacNaughton.

A whistle toward Carranza in the 19th minute gave Nashville a dangerous free kick, but Damion Lowe’s hops came in handy, heading it out and away. Five minutes later Semmle was called upon to make a big save off a corner kick from Daniel Lovitz. Joshua Bauer almost snuck the ball between Semmle and the right post, but the German blocked then collected it, stifling Nashville’s momentous few minutes in front of the net.

Muhkar tried to beat the Union’s stalwart defense with a pinpoint pass to his teammate by the left post, but Jakob Glesnes stayed with his mark, diving for a header clearance out of bounds. Nashville continued to test the Union’s back three with a free kick chance forcing a stop by Lowe inside the red zone.

In the 37th minute Nashville continued to push the Union’s defense to the limit as Semmle collided with MacNaughton on a cross but made the nitial save but falling to the ground in the process. The Union keeper quickly returned to his feet just as the hosts got a shot on the rebound but Semmle was able to get a hand on it, diverting the shot above the net and out of ply.

In the 42nd minute Nashville’s persistence finally paid dividends as Schaffleburg found space on the left side of the attack and hit a well weighted cross into  juked Nate Harriel on the left side of the box, then passed to Sam Surridge on the opposite side, who headed it toward the net and past Semmle. 

Philadelphia Union continued to push through with the three-back formation to start the second half but finally made the change to a more familiar lineup and style in the 59th minute. That’s when Head Coach Jim Curtin made a pair of substitutes with the injection of Alejandro Bedoya and Olivier Mbaizo in place of Jack Elliott and Kai Wagner. With the two changes, homegrown Nate Harriel shifted from the right to the left side while Bedoya created the right side of the Union’s diamond midfield. 

Moments after Curtin’s changes, Philadelphia leveled it 1-1 with a goal from Julian Carranza in the 62nd minute. Jose Martinez found Sullivan, who maintained possession despite physical defense from Nashville, then passed to Carranza who put away the shot with a no look finish on goal for the energizing equalizer.

With a stunned crowd and his team looking to turn momentum, Nashville’s Gary Smith made his first change in the 72nd minute with Sean Davis entering in the midfield for Dru Yearwood. Shortly after the change, the Boys in Blue got their chance at the go-ahead goal as Harriel nearly cashed in a flying header off a corner but his attempt missed the post by a matter of inches.

Nashville threw everything into the attack over the final 15 minutes of the contest as they sought to send their home crowd home with three points. Shaffelburg continued to test the Union with his pace on the outside and attempted to sneak a shot through but was denied by a sliding block from Glesnes. The Norwegian defender was again making the reaction stop on the grass in the 82nd minute to prevent Alex Muyl pass intended for Surridge from getting into a dangerous area for a shot.

Philly pushed for a game winner in the 90th minute with a hustle play from Bedoya and substitute Chris Donovan earning the Union one last set piece opportunity. The Union turned it into another memorable late finish as McGlynn teed up a perfectly weighted cross to the back post for an unmarked finish for Gazdag to net the winner.

Philadelphia Union continues its Eastern Conference road trip to kick off April as they take on Atlanta United FC on Sunday, April 14th. Kick off is set for 2:30PM ET with the action on FOX and free on Apple TV.

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Every match matters! In 2024, you do not want to miss your favorite matchups as the Union take on the best MLS has to offer! When we score, make sure you are there to get Subaru Park shaking!

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