Philadelphia Union’s German duo struck on either side of Rodolfo Pizarro’s dribbler to knock off Inter Miami CF in the clubs’ first-ever MLS meeting late Tuesday night. The win, coupled with Orlando City’s victory over NYCFC earlier in the day, guarantees the Union a spot in the knockout rounds of the MLS Is Back Tournament.
Jim Curtin leaned on a fit-again Sergio Santos and new signing Jakob Glesnes against MLS-newcomers Miami. Led by Pizarro, Miami has a lot of weapons but has yet to jell into a top side. Meanwhile, Curtin’s emphasis on motivation and mentality helped Philly get out to a fast start, and when Brenden Aaronson turned his defender and charged into the box from the right, the defense collapsed and left Kai Wagner alone at the top of the box. When the ball rolled out to him, Wagner called off Jamiro Monteiro and rifled a low drive past Luis Robles from distance for his first MLS goal.
The Florida side fought their way back into the match by, well, picking a fight. Rough tackles marred the latter stages of the first half and Pizarro’s late scissor challenge on Alejandro Bedoya seemed worthy of review. As El Brujo Martinez sought to keep his cool, Miami picked up a squibbed finish on the break from Pizarro, who squeezed the ball past Blake in traffic.
The halftime break calmed tempers and slowed the pace of the game. Ilsinho was introduced for Sergio Santos as the Union looked to control the ball and further involve 2019’s leading scorer, Kacper Przybylko, in the match.
The big striker put in a lot of defensive work but couldn’t find an opening until the 63rd minute when he joined Aaronson and Monteiro on a breakout. Monteiro’s dummy freed the homegrown midfielder and he streaked upfield. As Monteiro pushed up the center to clear space, Aaronson found Przybylko who calmly cut to his left and deposited the winner past Luis Robles.
Miami chased the game but Andre Blake pushed away all efforts and when Andres Reyes brought down Przybylko on a break in the 89th minute the expansion side was reduced to 10 men and settled for defeat.
The Union next face Orlando City SC on July 20 at 8:00 p.m. ET to finish out the Group Stage of the MLS Is Back Tournament, presented by Heineken. The winner will finish atop Group A, but both teams are already through to the knockout stage.