Jim Curtin made one change from the team he sent out against FC Dallas, but he got a far different performance. Sergio Santos and Jakob Glesnes scored stunners and Brenden Aaronson tucked in a third as the Union gave LAFC all they could handle at Banc of California Stadium late Sunday night.
Philly let the LA crowd know they came to play from the outset. Within the first minute, Brenden Aaronson nearly broke through and Sergio Santos almost curled a cross onto Kacper Przybylko’s feet.
The home side answered with a quick restart and Mark Anthony Kaye slotted in Diego Rossi, however the striker was offside.
Just before the half hour mark, Santos hushed the crowd with a breathtaking curler from just outside the 18-yard box. The Brazilian collected the ball from Jamiro Monteiro, turned and, surrounded by LAFC players, beat Kenneth Vermeer from distance.
Eight minutes later, however, Carlos Vela answered with an equally impressive effort from a set piece. “El Brujo” Martinez was called for a foul just outside the Union box, and though he protested, Chris Penso blew the whistle and Vela did the rest. A short run-up from the Mexican star preceded a tight, curling shot over the wall and into the top corner.
Less than two minutes later, Kacper Przybylko had a chance to put the Union back on top. Set up by Santos, he drove a shot toward the far post, but Vermeer spread himself to make the save.
The Union were all over the 2019 Supporters’ Shield winners, and the debutant Martinez was the most aggressive player on the pitch. A caution late in the first half didn’t slow down the Venezuelan, and as blood gushed from a cut sustained by a knee to the face, he continued to disrupt LAFC’s attempts to enter the final third.
Then, 48 minutes into the game, Jakob Glesnes announced himself to the league. After Przybylko earned a foul 40 yards from goal, Glesnes asked for a chance to shoot, and then he made the most of it. A lashed, swerving effort froze Vermeer and nestled in the far, top corner. It was a goal of the year effort from the Norwegian center back.
Moments later, Diego Rossi tied the score again. When an aerial challenge left Przybylko with a head injury, Chris Penso waved play-on and Rossi curled a shot past Blake and into the far corner.
In the 69th minute, Brenden Aaronson opened his 2020 account with a no-look finish to put Philly back in front. Santos turned in the box and found the homegrown midfielder for the smart finish. Once more, though, LAFC responded. Blake pushed a ball in the air to the top of the box and Eddie Segura poked a shot off the Union goalie’s leg that squirmed into the far corner.
The teams traded blows as the match wound down, with Glesnes’ header off the bar and Brian Rodriguez’s 96th minute 1v1 with Blake the biggest chances. The Union’s first point of the season was epic, and few teams will push LAFC as hard at home as Philly did in their second match of the season.
Next, the Union return to Philadelphia for their home opener on March 14 at 7:30pm as Santos and Glesnes check the internet to see which of them will win MLS Goal of the Week.