The Philadelphia Union grinded their way to three points last week in the Nation’s Capital and followed that up with a stellar outing on Sunday at Subaru Park against the Portland Timbers.
Jim Curtin’s side scored off three set pieces to extend their unbeaten run to five matches in league play, earning a 3-0 victory heading into the two-week MLS break. Andre Blake also registered his 50th career shutout for the Union, helping the club move to second place in the Eastern Conference.
Przybylko’s goal helped spark the Union amid sloppy conditions in Chester, being left wide open to score past Logan Ketterer. Santos and Elliott both scored their goals off of corner kicks, showing off their awareness and ability from close range.
The Union dominated against the depleted Timbers and showed the rest of the league another way they can score goals this season.
“We work on that every day in practice because we knew we wanted to improve on our set pieces, especially from last season,” Przybylko said post match. “Now we’re doing such a great job in practice and you can see we have such progress with set pieces… I’m just happy about it because it’s the kind of thing you need in the game.”
Przybylko keeps moving up Union scoring chart
Kacper Przybylko hasn’t been the more glamorous MLS forward since his move to the league in 2018, but sure has delivered for the Philadelphia Union in his time there.
Przybyłko continued moving up the Union goalscoring charts on Sunday, netting his 31st goal for the club in all competitions and his 26th of league play. The Polish striker moved ahead of Jack McInerney for third all-time in club history for goals scored in MLS play and now sits seven goals away from tying C.J. Sapong for the second-most in all competitions.
The 28-year-old now has eight goals this season in all competitions, including five in the Union’s first-ever involvement in the Concacaf Champions League.
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) May 30, 2021
“He’s just a natural goal scorer,” Curtin said about Przybylko. “He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. That’s not a coincidence. That’s years of hard work from him…He’s in a good spot right now. He continues to be dangerous. He’s difficult for the center backs to play against.”
Przybylko struggled with injuries in his early time in Chester, but since has become one of the more consistent attacking options for the club and among MLS forwards. His mixture of physicality and awareness has helped pave the way for other players to play key roles this season in attack and still has plenty of chances to add to his haul.
The Union will hope he can stay healthy and fit with several more big matches around the corner.
Aaronson makes short MLS debut in final minutes
While Brenden Aaronson continued to earn opportunities earlier in the day with the U.S. Men’s National Team, his brother Paxten got his first opportunity in an MLS match.
Paxten Aaronson played the final few minutes for the Union, making his league debut for the club. The 17-year-old Homegrown midfielder was rewarded by Curtin and stepped onto the pitch at Subaru Park to a major ovation from the home fans.
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) May 31, 2021
Although Aaronson didn’t get to have a true impact on the final scoreline, he did get that debut under his belt.
“We don’t just hand them minutes,” Curtin said of Aaronson and other young players in the Union squad. “They earn everything. Paxten has earned every opportunity that has come through his hard work and training. He’s been excellent in practice, day in and day out. So now he gets rewarded.”
Aaronson became the third Homegrown player to debut this season for the Union, joining Quinn Sullivan (who also was a late substitute on Sunday) and Jack McGlynn. He scored one goal and registered one assist in 11 appearances for Union II in 2020 and since has jumped up to the first team in hopes of following in his brother’s footsteps.
With a growing field of attacking options, Aaronson may continue to wait for a prominent role in the squad going forward, but Curtin praised his hard work as he continued to grow into a professional player.
“He’s in a good spot right now,” Curtin said. “Again, I know we all want it to happen instantly. And I’ve been trying to avoid the natural thing that everybody is going to do, and compare him to his brother, but he’s his own person. He’s his own player. He’s a great kid, and he deserved tonight.
“Hopefully, it’s a memorable special night for him and his family. It’s just the beginning. He’s gonna leave a big impact on the Philadelphia Union and then even beyond that.”