In Philadelphia Union’s third match of 2019, a goal from homegrown Brenden Aaronson in the first start of his career helped the club earn its first point of the season as they prepare to return home next weekend to take on Columbus Crew.
The Union came out with homegrown player Brenden Aaronson taking up the creative midfield role in place of the suspended Marco Fabian. In a tense opening half, Philly ceded possession but trapped the home side in the center. With Aaronson, Cory Burke, and Fafa Picault pressing the center backs, the Union made it difficult for Atlanta to penetrate and involve Pity and Josef Martinez.
In the fourth minute, Picault broke through down the left flank but couldn’t twist his left-footed shot onto Brad Guzan’s frame.
Philadelphia continued to disrupt Atlanta’s buildup and in the 20th minute they nearly took the lead. Burke found Ale Bedoya on the right and his low cross was touched toward Guzan’s goal but spun around the far post.
In the 34th minute, Aaronson cut the ball behind the defensive line from the right wing and Cory Burke broke in late but sent his free shot into the stratosphere.
The homegrown was back at it in the 40th, turning in the center and sliding a pass through the center to Picault. The speedy striker rounded Brad Guzan but slightly scuffed his shot and Miles Robinson was able to recover and clear the ball off the line.
Atlanta United’s star goal threat, Josef Martinez, finally found his shooting boots late in the half, running onto a brilliant cross from the left and sliding in to pop his shot onto the bar.
Going into halftime, the Union held their own and had created chances worthy of a lead.
In the 47th minute, they got that lead.
Brenden Aaronson collected a pass from Kai Wagner, turned into the center and whipped a shot through Leandro Gonzalez Pirez’s legs and past Brad Guzan for his first goal in his first professional match.
Philly took their lead and dropped deeper, and Atlanta responded by looking for Josef Martinez through the lines. Julian Gressel sent a phenomenal curling pass deep down the right side and Martinez laced it across goal and wide.
Martinez then chested a ball down to himself at the top of the box, popped it up and hit a vicious bicycle kick at Andre Blake’s goal that the keeper went down quickly to stop.
In the 70th, Atlanta finally tied the score on a well-placed header from Ezequiel Barco. The young creator burst into the box and nodded the ball to the far post and beyond the diving Blake.
Picault came close to putting Philly back on top in the 88th after a strong run from Burke up the right side presented the ball just above the six yard box for his strike partner. Guzan was out quickly and deflected the shot into the air so it could be cleared.
In the final minute of the match, Gonzalez Pirez took down Cory Burke on the break and Medunjanin’s free kick was put just above the near corner of Guzan’s goal.
The Union left Atlanta with a point and return home to face Columbus Crew next Saturday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. ET at Talen Energy Stadium.