OTD 2019: Union battle LAFC

One year ago today was a special UNIBET moment in Union History, as the Eastern Conference leading Philadelphia Union battled the best team in Major League Soccer, LAFC. The match proved quite the thriller with both sides walking aways with points and the Union proving to any remaining doubters that 2019 was the real deal. Below is the original match recap as it appeared on PhiladelphiaUnion.com

Philadelphia Union proved they were up to the biggest challenge MLS has to offer on Saturday night, drawing 1-1 with LAFC in front of over 19,000 people in Talen Energy Stadium. The visitors put out their best eleven and the Union were unbowed. 

If anybody doubted whether the Union were able to hang with the league leaders, there was a swift answer. In the third minute, Alejandro Bedoya rolled up the right wing and tucked Fafa Picault in behind. Picault had laid in a spectacular cross from the left a week prior against Pumas, and he did the same from the right, dropping a pass onto Kacper Przybylko’s head for the striker to nod home. 

Talen Energy Stadium erupted as a stunned Bob Bradley crossed his arms in furious contemplation. 

The Union spent the next ten minutes resisting waves of pressure from LAFC, and it wasn’t until the 13th minute that they began to find their footing once again. Picault darted up the left but was dispossessed by Latif Blessing’s stellar backtracking run. 

In the 21st minute, Jamiro Monteiro released Kacper Przybylko up the left and the big striker rode two defenders into the final third before dusting them both and cutting back behind Brenden Aaronson. Bedoya was first to the loose ball but when he found Ray Gaddis, the fullback couldn’t put his cross into a dangerous area. 

 Brenden Aaronson announced himself to LAFC in the 24th minute with a spectacular run through the middle after creating a turnover. The homegrown teenager won the ball near the center circle before advancing on Eddie Segura. A quick shimmy left the Colombian grabbing at air and it took a strong hand from Tyler Miller to keep the match 1-0. 

In the 30th, Medunjanin’s cross went inches over the head of Picault at the back post. Eduard Atuesta replied with a vicious strike from distance in the 35th but Andre Blake reminded onlookers why he remains the best shotstopper in the league with a sprawling save. 

Monteiro was nearly onto the end of a ball in the box when Jack Elliott knocked a Medunjanin free kick back across the box in front of Miller. 

LAFC finally evened the scoreline in the 43rd minute through Carlos Vela, though it was not one of the Mexican’s prettiest finishes. Mark Anthony Kaye’s dinked cross slapped the crossbar and bounced back into play where Vela finally tucked it home after a ruckus in front of the net.

In the second half, the visitors came out blazing with Diego Rossi running at the Union back line. He found Vela wide but the attacker’s cross to Adama Diomande was collected by Blake. 

Blake made a more difficult stop moments later when he closed the angle on Diomande as the striker broke in alone down the right. With Elliott in hot pursuit, Diomande took the shot a moment earlier than he wanted and Blake was well-positioned to maintain the even scoreline. In the 60th minute, Ilsinho showed LAFC what all the hype was about. Entering for Brenden Aaronson, the Brazilian turned away from three men and played a 1-2 with Przybylko before Segura ran him over from behind. Przybylko picked up the loose ball and found Monteiro through the center, but the midfielder was bundled over from behind without a call. 

Philadelphia continued to push forward, endlessly challenging the Supporters’ Shield leaders. In the 72nd minute, Przybylko cut the ball back from the right and Picault sought to curl the ball into the far corner but couldn’t get a clean hit. 

Then substitute Sergio Santos broke in alone up the left. Although he was on a bad angle, Santos looked toward the far corner of the goal, spinning the ball just around the far post. 

In the final moments, Santos found the ball again, this time on top of the six yard box. His right-footed shot hit the arm of a defender, but referee Nima Saghafi waved off any appeals and there was no VAR review on the pitch. 

The match ended 1-1, with the Union giving LAFC everything they could handle. The doubters silenced, Philly moves on to rival New York Red Bulls next weekend in New Jersey.


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