Three points is great, but having YOU back is better💙💛 pic.twitter.com/7MORSiznYU— PhilaUnion🛡 (@PhilaUnion) June 24, 2021
By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer
Subaru Park was back at full capacity for the first time since 2019, and this author finally made a correct score prediction as the Union took home three points against Columbus Crew.
When the first half kicked off, the Union admittedly were not playing like the Union. Sloppy defense, a virtually nonexistent midfield, and a helpless strike force made for a hard-to-watch performance. Andre Blake was forced into some truly spectacular saves, and although not able to maintain it for very long, the Union’s midfield was able to hold possession for long enough to stave off the Crew’s offense for the first 20 minutes of the game.
Things started to pick up for the Union’s offense when a header from Cory Burke sailed over the top of the net, and, soon after, Jamiro Monteiro was able to slot a low ball through the legs of a Columbus defender and their goalkeeper, putting the Boys In Blue ahead 1-0.
It should also be noted that two of the Union’s most famous Homegrown players, Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie, came home to Subaru Park to watch the game. A very emotional moment to see them in the stadium that made them for the first time since departing for Europe in January, and a reminder to Union fans everywhere of just how much skin their team has in the MLS and on the international stage.
Then, in a fitting birthday present for manager Jim Curtin, the Union were able to hold off Columbus’ notoriously skilled strikers to collect another clean sheet for Philadelphia (so much so that Jack Elliott made it into the MLS Team of the Week this week!) While several set pieces and scoring chances could have put the Union up by more than just the one goal, the 1-0 scoreline held to keep the Union in third place in the Eastern Conference, behind Orlando City on just goal differential.
Man of the Match: This one is going to have to go to Andre Blake. If it weren’t for his Superman-esque heroics, the initially disorganized defense could have easily cost Curtin’s men the game before halftime.
The Main Takeaway: The Union have well and truly hit their stride in the league, and are taking every opponent seriously. If they can score early, it gives them the necessary drive to keep their energy at 100% the rest of the game. The game plan must include persistent pressing from the first whistle, scoring early, and always moving, thinking critically, and staying alert even when they’re not with the ball.