Recap: Union rally from deficit to advance in Audi MLS Cup Playoffs

They did it, and they did it for you.

Philadelphia Union came from two goals down in the second half to defeat New York Red Bulls and move on to the conference semi-finals of the 2019 Audi MLS Cup playoffs in a rainy, messy match Sunday afternoon. Fafa Picault evened things up before Marco Fabian scored the winner in extra time.

In the sixth minute, Red Bulls played the ball back into the final third after a Union throw in and the ball made its way across the shape to Josh Sims on the right. The winger found space to rip a shot past Andre Blake from just outside the box as the Union goalkeeper moved across his goal.

Philly’s veterans were not going to let that two goal lead stand. Medunjanin once again looked for Bedoya at the far post and this time the captain wasn’t going to be denied. His shot ripped the netting and pulled Philly within one.

The half ended, unfortunately, with Tom Barlow getting on the end of a looping back post cross and restoring Red Bulls’ big advantage.

Last time these clubs met, Jim Curtin immediately turned to Ilsinho and he dragged the Union back into the match almost single-handedly.

This time Curtin trusted his starters, and it paid off. After Jamiro Monteiro’s strong work up the left earned Philly a free kick, Medunjanin zipped a ball onto Sergio Santos’ head and the striker beat the bar with a hard shot. The rebound fell near Jack Elliott and, as usual, the lanky defender was the first to react. He bent and hit the ball with his head into the far corner to put fear into Red Bulls’ hearts.

That fear would prove justified. Over the next 20 minutes, the Union — and Sergio Santos in particular — were uncontainable.

Santos nearly scored with another fine header, then he found Andrew Wooten with a low cross that the German-American could only touch away from a defender.

Santos then hounded Aaron Long into the corner and forced a turnover that became a ball across to Medunjanin. The ball wouldn’t sit for the Bosnian, however, and he scuffed a shot wide.

Finally, it happened. Santos lined up a cross from the right and picked out substitute Fafa Picault flying in. The winger made no mistake with the lasered finish that evened up the match.

Philly continued pouring on the pressure. Bedoya put a Medunjanin cross over the bar and Ray Gaddis’ deep shot was flicked just wide of the post by Mark McKenzie.

Extra time arrived, and with both sides tiring, the match became about who could make a play. All year, Jim Curtin has consistently said one thing about Marco Fabian: He can make a play that nobody else can make.

Jim Curtin was right.

A nifty combo on the right gave Fafa Picault a chance to cross far post. Fabian controlled the ball and lifted a ball back across goal. It deflected once and nestled into the net just above Luis Robles desperate, outstretched hands.

The Union held on until the end, earning the franchise’s first playoff win in history and booking a conference semifinals at Atlanta United FC this Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Get to the watch parties, Union fans. We’re moving on.


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