While the regular season has come to a close, the 2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs are on the horizon and the Boys in Blue will be hosting New York Red Bulls on Talen Energy Stadium on Sunday, October 20th. Talen Energy Stadium has been full of great moments and we’re looking back at the Union’s season-defining home games. From the New York Red Bulls to Atlanta United, we’ve seen the Union take on some of the MLS’ biggest names and come out on top inexhilarating home victories. Whether it’s late winners or homegrown youth talent shining, it’s always an exciting gameday at Talen. Here’s what to look forward to as we roll into our first home playoff game since 2011.
Result: 3-0 win
Key Takeaways: First win of the season, first clean sheet
Following three games without a win, the Union really needed to take three points from their second home game of the season. Impressively, the Union managed to keep Columbus at bay with the latter only having one shot on goal at full time. Before his mid-season trade to the Crew, David Accam put on a Man of the Match display scoring twice in the first half and assisting Ilsinho’s goal in the second. It was the birth of the magical atmosphere created by our dedicated fans that has lasted throughout the 2019 season.
Notably, this wasn’t the only the Union’s first win of the season, but also their first clean sheet. This critical win over Columbus was the catalyst for a five-game home streak without a loss for us, showing everyone that the Union were going to bring it in front of their loud and proud supporters.
Result: 2-1 win
Key Takeaways: Stoppage-time winner by Bedoya
Although it means the game is nervy until the end, there’s nothing like a last-minute winner from the captain. An 85th minute goal from Cory Burke tied the game, setting the scene for Bedoya’s exhilirating strike on April 6, 2019.
The final ten minutes were suspenseful. There was Jamiro Montiero’s cracking shot, which led to a penalty call, Burke’s hard-working rebound goal following Marco Fabian’s saved penalty, and then BedoyaTime. The captain’s extra-time winner, a seeing-eye shot through the legs of Matt Hedges and around goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer. If you thought Talen Stadium stays loud during regulation time, you can only imagine the roars at the final whistle of this one. The Union’s win over Dallas ended the visitors’ three-match winning streak and generated huge momentum for Jim Curtin’s men over the following weeks.
New York Red Bulls
Result: 3-2 win
Key Takeaways: Ilsinho, first comeback win over NYRB
It’s always testy when the New York Red Bulls are in town, and this rivalry showdown was no different. Our boys in blue made history when they came back from 2-0 down against the Red Bulls – the first time the Union had achieved such a turnaround against their rivals in club history. Second half goals have set the Union apart from other clubs and have been vital in our home wins this season, but few have been as dramatic or sudden as those Ilsinho produced in this game.
Monteiro netted a cross from Ilsinho in the 60th minute, galvanizing the crowd. A minute later, Ilsinho did the work himself, powering home his first of the night. Nine minutes later, the second followed. New York’s shoulders slumped; they left chastened and with a new respect for the atmosphere at Talen Energy Stadium. The rivalry angle made this win so sweet and showed Philly had the confidence needed to compete against any team in any situation.
Result: 3-1 win
Key Takeaways: Playoff clinching-game
The game was for first-place! Atlanta United were coming off the back of their US Open Cup success and on a winning run that spanned seven games. However, the Union were not going to back down from the fight, even with Bedoya suspended for yellow card accumulation.
This electrifying win clinched a playoff spot for the Union and propelled them back to first place in the Eastern Conference. Brenden Aaronson, Philly’s homegrown talent, scored the club’s first goal of the night. Reminiscent of his first MLS goal, also against US International goalkeeper Brad Guzan, Aaronson met Haris Medunjanin’s pass and calmly slid the ball through the helpless goalie’s legs. The stadium rocked and roiled, and the energy pushed Philly forward. Sergio Santos, who came on for Aaronson, made an immediate impact with his assist to Kacper Przybyłko in the box. The Union’s leading scorer curled the ball into the upper left corner, edging the home side ahead of the stunned visitors. Atlanta was scrambling as Santos, unmarked, turned goal-scorer two minutes later with an expert finish. The Brazilian ripped off his shirt in jubilation as noise thundered down from the crowd.
New York City FC
Result: 2-1 loss
Key Takeaways:Final home game of regular season, vital second half chances
The final home game of regular season. A sold out stadium. Two teams in blue. Redemption on the line. The Union looked to come out strong against NYCFC on our own turf after the 4-2 defeat in June at Yankee Stadium. Injuries kept Bedoya and Przybyłko from the lineup.
Despite a disappointing start, the Union looked to come back strong in the second half. Aaronson’s shot over the crossbar in the 58th minute brought the stadium to life, and from then on, fans roared with chants, encouraging a breakthrough goal. An 85th minute handball in the box gave the fans that satisfaction, with Fabian scoring the penalty. The pressure was on NYCFC as the Union knocked them off the ball in the last twenty minutes and continually threatened. Although it ended 2-1 at full time, the Union showed the pride and will to push on that fans deserve as they prepare for the playoffs.