Kacper Przybylko scored on either side of halftime to lead Philadelphia Union to a 3-1 come-from-behind road win over Orlando City SC Wednesday night. Fafa Picault added a third goal as Orlando City went down to nine-men due to two red cards.
After coming back from a goal down in extra time last season, Orlando didn’t wait to jump on top in this matchup. After heavy pressure early, the Purple Lions got a pretty opener from Chris Mueller. The winger intercepted a half-clearance by Auston Trusty and drove directly at Jack Elliott. Although the defender sought to push him wide, Mueller kept his balance and slipped a shot inside Matt Freese’s near post.
Haris Medunjanin was not ready to lose two straight, and he immediately set about threading balls through to Kacper Przybylko. First he nearly found the big striker breaking through the right channel but slightly overhit the aerial pass. Then, in the the 12th minute, Przybylko was found in space by Jamiro Monteiro and turned, drove, then fired toward the far post. Brian Rowe got down well to save.
The Union continued to take the game to the hosts and Brenden Aaronson nearly found his second career tally after 18 minutes when Monteiro hit him off a quick restart. Breaking up the left, Aaronson couldn’t squeeze his finish past Rowe.
Finally, the Union broke through in the 33rd minute. And, predictably, it was Przybylko who evened the match. Aaronson and Medunjanin combined to win possession in the center and the Bosnian quickly picked out Monteiro across midfield. The midfielder spun and hit Przybylko through the right channel and he got Robin Jansson in the air with a cutback before tucking home to the far post.
It got worse for Jansson in the 43rd minute. The defender underestimated Fafa Picault’s speed and was forced to drag down the striker as he broke toward goal. Referee Chris Penso initially raised a yellow card, but after a VAR review a red card became the final decision.
Philadelphia entered the second half up a man and they were quickly up a goal as well.
Medunjanin lifted a pass over the defense for Ale Bedoya and the captain made a sensational touch to keep the ball in play. Przybylko ran onto the bouncer and lashed it home with a fierce half-volley. The goal drew Przybylko even with Nani in fifth place on the MLS scoring chart.
The Union never looked back. By the 51st minute they were camped out atop Orlando’s box, with both Przybylko and Aaronson ripping shots at the home goal. Neither got through, but the tone was set for the remainder of the match, and Fafa Picault was determined to get in on the action.
Monteiro found Aaronson near the top of the box and the teenager played a sumptuous ball through to Picault. The striker still have a difficult task to beat Rowe from close range and settled on firing a rocket over the goalie’s near post shoulder.
In the 68th minute, Sacha Kljestan joined Jansson in the locker room after stabbing Monteiro’s leg from behind with an ugly tackle.
With Marco Fabián onto the pitch and running the show, Philly continued to pour on the pressure but couldn’t find a third for Przybylko. In the 87th, the striker unselfishly found Fabián in the middle but a sliding block kept the Mexican from getting on the scoresheet.
The Union and Orlando City renew their rivalry on Saturday in Talen Energy Stadium on Fireworks Night, presented by Toyota. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. ET with 6abc carrying the broadcast.