Analysis- In the earliest match start time in MLS history, New York City FC fell to the Philadelphia Union by a final score of 1-0. Captain and USMNT member Alejandro Bedoya made the difference in the 63′ with a strike in the bottom left corner, just getting under the hand of an outstretched Sean Johnson.
The win puts Philadelphia tied for first in the group with Orlando City, who won their opener last night against Inter Miami by the score of 2-1. NYCFC falls to the bottom of the group with Miami after the loss.
The Statement Before the Match
It was the proclamation before the fixture that will be most remembered. As with every MLS match in this tournament, players from both teams stationed on the center circle and took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement. However, it was what the Philadelphia Union did after that would grab the most attention.
When posing for their starting XI picture before the match began, a tradition for every club before a soccer match, the Union revealed a major change to their jerseys that MLS and other clubs had not been made aware of.
Rather than the usual last names of Aaronson, McKenzie, or Ilsinho on the back of their jerseys… we saw the last names Floyd, Taylor, or Sterling.
The message quickly became clear, and it was a powerful moment:
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 9, 2020
In comparison to other sports leagues that have returned so far, no other league has supported the Black Lives Matter movement as much as MLS. This show of support by Philadelphia, along with the 25 other clubs in MLS, truly helps represent the long time motto of MLS: Soccer for All.
While Philadelphia was the more organized side, and the Alejandro Bedoya goal was the scoring difference, it was the goalkeeping heroics by Andre Blake that secured the three points for the Union.
Blake played the spoiler for City’s late surge stopping multiple close chances, including a last-second one-on-one from Gary Mackay-Stevens, to secure the clean sheet and the victory.
In a match focused on fitness and sharpness, it was the man between the sticks that secured the man of the match.
Union’s Anchor the difference
The other stand out shift came from new signing Jose Andres Martinez. Martinez brought his gritty, anchor reputation into this match with a standout performance in defensive midfield.
By winning the most duels in the match (8,) Martinez provides a nuisance that City wasn’t able to counter in the match.
Question Marks for the Pigeons
The loss by New York City marks the third straight loss in all competition by a score of 1-0.
While NYCFC looks the more talented side in the match, they were clearly beaten in the organization department. For new NYCFC manager Ronny Delia, it bolds a trend that he would like to quickly desecrate.
NYCFC looks to turn their poor run of form around vs. Orlando City on Tuesday. While the Philadelphia Union will look to secure a place in the knockout stage vs. Nashville on Tuesday as well.