CHESTER, PA – The Philadelphia Union defeat Atlanta United FC and notched their second home win in the space of a week this afternoon at Subaru Park. The Union defeated Atlanta United FC 1-0 in sorely needed confidence-boosting rout of a team in formidable form, previously sitting just one spot and one point north of them in the Eastern Conference Standings.
Despite Close Standings, Atlanta Felt a Foreboding Foe for Philadelphia
Despite close standings, Atlanta felt a foreboding foe. Atlanta United came into the match conceding just one of their last eight matches. They’d won four of their last five matches, drawing the other, and scored a minimum of three goals in each of their last three games.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, has only just arisen this past Sunday from a stretch of lackluster results. Prior to defeating Orlando 3-1 with a brace from Kacper Przybylko on Sunday, the Union had lost three and drew one of their last four matches. They hadn’t won a match since August 18th.
Must-Win Match for Both Philadelphia and Atlanta
Today’s match was a must-win for both sides. Both Philadelphia and Atlanta were looking to make a run for the playoffs sitting side by side midtable in a tight eastern conference with rapidly fluctuating rank. Every match, every point, counts toward November. Today Philadelphia took all three.
Jim Curtin’s defensive-minded team- whose prowess remains its backline and struggle remains its attacking third- came out in a 4-4-2. Kacper Przybylko- Philadelphia’s leading scorer putting away the brace in their last win- was flanked by Sergio Santos at the top. Gazdag, Monteiro, Martinez and Flach sat just behind in diamond formation. Curtin’s ever-reliable back line held strong with Wagner, Elliot, Jakob Glesnes and Mbaizo in the field and Jamaican stalwart Andre Blake in the net.
Philadelphia Excels At Chance Creation
From the first whistle, Philadelphia Union looked like the hungrier team. They were quick to get the ball upfield and create chances. The first opportunity came from Sergio Santos in the fifth minute and though he failed to put it away, it set the tone for an afternoon that would see Philadelphia dominate Atlanta on chance creation and shots on target consistently throughout the match.
Where Philadelphia excelled this afternoon was in chance creation, getting shots on goal, reinvigorating the press and pressure, and getting the ball upfield from out of the back. Where they struggled was in putting away those chances. After all that work and hustle, no net.
Despite the lopsided opportunities- they’d taken five shots on goal- the Union went into halftime 0-0.
Philadelphia’s Defense Is Putting in the Work
Philadelphia Union’s backline is one of the best in the league. They’ve conceded among the fewest goals per game in the standings and consistently keep Philadelphia in tight games. Today at Subaru (Alongside one of the best goalkeepers in Concacaf Andre Blake) they kept a clean sheet against a team that’s been scoring three goals per game their past three matches. Their ability to stop the attack has never been in question.
But today Philadelphia’s backline also proved their versatility; pushing the ball up field and creating space. Jack Elliot, in particular, kept Atlanta on the back foot, aggressively getting forward and looking like a man capable of dominating any zone on the pitch.
Kacper Przybylko Adds Another Goal to the Count for Philadelphia
The tempo of pressure and chance creation continued into the second half but still no net. Veteran goalkeeper Brad Guzan had his say with a few great shots, keeping the score at nil-nil until the 70-minute.
Kacper Przybylko drove home his 14th goal across all competition of the 2021 season with a stunner in the box to the back left corner. It would prove enough to put the game away, with the pace of play continuing as it had the first 70 minutes into the final 20, and no side putting anything further into the back of the net.
Running Toward November
Following today’s bout, both Philadelphia Union and Atlanta United must refocus on their next opponents as matches and available points dwindle away toward a postseason they’re both still fighting for. Philadelphia Union will head north to Red Bull Arena this Wednesday evening to see about an old rivalry in New York.
The Union have looked like a much more threatening team going back to their 0-2 loss to Club America in the CCL semi-finals on September 15th, taking all three points in their following two matches. Where they sit in the table pends upon the rest of the weekend’s matchups but they’ll be in good shape if they can carry either momentum through to New York on Wednesday and into the next month.