The Philadelphia Union have aspirations of a deep playoff run in 2020, and their form in the MLS is Back Tournament suggests they are team eager to show that in Florida.
Kacper Przybylko’s second-half curler propelled the Union past Inter Miami, 2-1, in Group A action in the MLS is Back Tournament on Tuesday night.
The victory secured the Union’s place in the knockout rounds, and sets up a battle for first place on Monday against fellow 2-0 side Orlando City.
The Union only needed five minutes to open the scoring from Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. After great work by Brenden Aaronson to keep possession near the endline, a pass deflected off Ben Sweat and back to an onrushing Kai Wagner.
Wagner hit a sweet left-footed shot in past Luis Robles for his first MLS goal for the club. The shot bounced just before reaching Robles, who got a piece of it, but not enough as it ended up in the right corner of the goal.
Andre Blake was called into action for the first time in the 22nd minute, denying Julian Carranza with a right-handed save.
Inter Miami remained in the match and took advantage of a a defensive breakdown from the Union later in the half. A 1-2 from Rodolfo Pizarro and Lewis Morgan eventually allowed the Scottish winger to play in a wide open Matias Pellegrini. Pellegrini’s cross was slotted home by Pizarro after the striker readjusted in the box and beat Blake to the bottom corner.
It was Pizarro’s second goal this season and first of the tournament.
After being denied a goal in the opening half due to a close offside call, Przybylko made the most of his best chance in the attacking third. Jamiro Monteiro left a loose ball for Aaronson to run onto before the young midfielder played a pass across field to the streaking Przybylko.
The German faked a shot, switched to his left foot, and beat Miami defender Ben Sweat before curling a shot into the bottom corner for his first goal of 2020.
Inter Miami thought it had a lifeline in the 75th minute when referee Silviu Petrescu whistled for a handball on Jakob Glesnes. VAR was used though and overturned the decision, keeping the Union in front.
Roman Torres’ 84th-minute header off a corner kick rattled the crossbar for Miami, in what was its last good look towards goal in the match. Miami defender Andres Reyes was sent off in stoppage time after picking up a second yellow card for bringing down Przybylko on a breakaway.
The Union sit second in Group A after the win and conclude group stage play against Orlando City on Monday at 8 p.m.
Inter Miami will seek its first win of the competition as it takes on fellow winless side NYCFC on the same day.
Man of the Match
Brenden Aaronson: Aaronson assisted on the winning goal after delivering a great pass upfield and also helped set up the first goal, although he wasn’t credited with an assist for it. The 20-year-old was lively in attack while also winning several fouls for his team.
Moment of the Match
Przybylko Goal: Przybylko had good chances in the opening half, but failed to get a shot on goal. He made the most of his one true chance in the second-half, showing great skill to beat Robles to his right.
Match to Forget
Andres Reyes: The Miami defender recovered from a scary injury in the tournament opener, but struggled against Philadelphia. He screened Luis Robles on the Union opener and got caught upfield on the Przybylko winner. That was before a second yellow card ended his night, and potentially his tournament.