Goals from Sergio Santos and Cory Burke saw Philadelphia Union clinch the 2020 Supporters' Shield at Subaru Park Sunday evening.
Jim Curtin restored Ray Gaddis and Jose Martinez to the lineup for the biggest match of the season. With Andre Blake missing out again through injury, Matt Freese got his first start of 2020 in net. New England had stars Gustavo Bou and Carles Gil back in the lineup as they sought to break out against a Union side that came in 3-0-1 against them on the year.
Gil was active early and pulled off a quick stop-and-go to twist Martinez in mid-stride. The defensive midfielder stayed down for a moment before returning to the match.
The Revs DP came to life again moments later as his fancy footwork opened a lane in the box for a centering pass that the Union scrambled to clear.
Philly started reeling in their opponents after Gil’s early threat. Santos ducked behind Andrew Farrell in the seventh minute, latched onto a well-timed throughball from Kai Wagner, and centered for Kacper Przybylko that was barely cut out by the retreating defense.
And then, in the 11th minute, Ray Gaddis nearly made history. The ball popped free in the box and the fullback lined up a shot for what would have been his first MLS goal. At the very last moment, a defender flew in to block the shot away.
But with their butterflies out of the way, the Union were now clearly the better team. Wagner made a great tackle to spring Monteiro in the center and he picked out Ale Bedoya with an inch-perfect pass into the area. The captain couldn’t create separation from his marker and his eventual shot spun wide.
Brenden Aaronson was the next to explore the Revs box as he collected a wall pass from Santos and fought three defenders for space to shoot, only to lose out at as he sought to fire on net.
Przybylko had the next look, an on-the-move left-footer that he couldn’t put on frame in traffic.
In the 32nd minute, Monteiro and Santos nearly combined for a sensational goal. The striker pulled off a 360 spin on the endline and found Monteiro in front of goal but holding off a defender. The Union DP attempted an ambitious redirection behind his standing leg but it scuffed off his man and sat in front of Matt Turner.
Santos had been the most dangerous man on the pitch all game, and in the 42nd minute, he was rewarded for his work. Monteiro’s corner from the right was sent back out to the midfielder. He drew a defender and found Jakob Glesnes at the top right corner of the box. A dainty curler into traffic was met by Bedoya and ricocheted off the crossbar, falling at Santos’ feet as the striker reacted faster than everyone around him to knock it home.
Bruce Arena made two moves at halftime designed to get his team more control of the game, but Matt Polster and Lee Nguyen failed to give their side momentum.
Instead, Philly continued to snap at the Revs everywhere they went, and New England got mad. Teal Bunbury earned a card for a rough tackle on Aaronson but the Homegrown midfielder shook it off.
Glesnes rose highest to meet another ball from Monteiro in the 54th minute and pounded it directly at Turner’s face, forcing the goalie to push it away.
In the 67th, substitute Cory Burke met a dink from Monteiro in the center of the box, heading down well but failing to get enough power on it to beat Turner.
Turner had no chance two minutes later when Martinez bounded up the right and lasered in a perfect ball to Burke at the back post. The Jamaican roofed it and flew off to celebrate with his teammates in front of the River End.
The Union were ascendant and Bruce Arena’s team had no shots on goal after 70 minutes of action.
As time wound down and New York Red Bulls continued to hold a 2-1 advantage over Toronto FC, it was clear that Philadelphia Union was going to finish with the highest points per game in Major League Soccer and collect the club’s first trophy, the Supporters’ Shield. It is an appropriate trophy for the Union, a club created by supporters with team spirit and community in mind.
When the final whistle blew, closing out another stellar defensive performance by the team with the fewest goals allowed in the league, the Union had their trophy. The club created by supporters earned the shield built by supporters.
Your Union are on top of Major League Soccer.