Homegrowns too hot for Higuain as Fontana leads Union to 3-0 win

Anthony Fontana started as an attacking midfielder with Brenden Aaronson moving into Ale Bedoya’s role as the captain served a one match suspension for yellow card accumulation. Kai Wagner returned to health and took up his spot at left back and Sergio Santos was back in the lineup after proving he was fit to start. Andre Blake pulled on the captain’s armband in Bedoya’s absence.

Miami added Gonzalo Higuain to one of the league’s worst attacks, and supported him with Rodolfo Pizarro. The visitors had stars, but the Union had Fontana. 

Less than ten minutes in, Fontana drove to the top of the box and laid in Jamiro Monteiro. The Designated Player cut onto his right foot and fired a shot through a defender’s legs that Luis Robles flattened himself to save. 

Philly pinned Miami back for large spells in the first half, but a player of Higuain’s pedigree was always going to get his chances. A quick cut around Glesnes in the thirteenth minute opened a lane to goal and Higuain swung through it with his left to drill the ball just above Blake’s crossbar. 

In the 20th, Higuain sought to open his MLS account with an ambitious bicycle kick in the box that kissed Blake’s post and skipped wide. 

The big signings huffed and puffed but Fontana blew the house down.

Running onto a ball at the top of the box that Kacper Przybylko laid into his path, the homegrown midfielder twisted past Ben Sweat without slowing down and slammed his shot above Robles’ arms into the top of the net for his fourth in four matches, only one of which has been a start.  

Juan Agudelo exited at halftime and Miami threw on Robbie Robinson as they sought to take the game to the home team. 

The Union were not intimidated. Sergio Santos casually glided past his defender and fired a shot from the left channel that Robles pushed wide. Sweat responded with a cute give-and-go down the left but Jakob Glesnes slid in to deflect the ball over the goal.

Sweat had another big chance moments later, cutting back to his right and squaring up to Blake’s goal with time. But remember — this is Blake’s goal, and the Jamaican wanted his shutout. A spectacular dive was required to push Sweat’s effort wide, and Blake delivered. 

Fontana had run his lungs off, so Jim Curtin brought on Ilsinho and challenged the visitors to give him space. 

Usually, the Brazilian supersub does his damage with the ball at his feet. On this night, though, Brenden Aaronson took the honors, playing a swift wall pass and driving into the final third. He played the ball wide to Jamiro Monteiro and the midfielder poked through to Przybylko. Ilsinho ghosted into the middle and tapped home the big striker’s centering pass with ease in the 69th minute. 

Four minutes later, though, it appeared Miami would cut the lead in half. Referee Elton Garcia stopped proceedings and went to the VAR monitor before emerging to call a penalty on Przybylko for a handball in the box. Earlier, the ball had popped up and skimmed the striker’s arm, and Higuain stepped up to the spot. 

And the player who has scored over 200 times in Europe laced the ball wide to the right. Glesnes leapt in the air in celebration as Higuain shoved Kai Wagner and Jose Martinez. 

Miami was deflated. 

Late in extra time, things got even worse for the visitors. Brenden Aaronson pressed Dylan Nealis in his own half and stripped the defender of the ball with ease. Driving into the box with force, Aaronson tucked his finish under Robles and celebrated with an homage to Kylian Mbappe as his teammates mobbed the young star. 

The Union walked away 3-0 winners and took back second place in the Eastern Conference and in the Supporters’ Shield standings. The homegrowns continued scoring and Blake continued his quest for the league MVP award. 

The 2020 season resumes next Saturday, October 3, with the Union facing Toronto FC in Hartford, CT at 7:30 p.m. ET on PHL17.

 

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