On what was a cold night at Subaru Park in Chester, Pa. The Philadelphia Union and LAFC squared for the 1st leg of the Semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. This game was more than just a Champions League game due to the conclusion of the MLS Cup last season. LAFC beat the Union in PKs to win the MLS Cup. While its a game they should have won and they knew they should have won, this will give them a little edge to play with tonight. Even with a 9pm start time, the fans showed up and brought the energy early. In what should have been a win for this team turned into a catch up situation and desperation for away goals as the game ends in a draw.
The Union dominated early and could see all the confidence they had amassed over thier previous 4 matches shown early. Making good passes, finding the open space and not afraid to take chances. Julian Carranza early on had a great chance from a ball crossed in by Kai Wagner and headed down by Uhre, unfortunately, he hit the post on what seemed to be an open net. It was clear early on that LAFC had a game plan to waste as much time as possible.
The Union controlled 55% of the possession in the first half. During this first half, the ref was very inconsistent on calls. As a game goes on, not finding a way to regulate the play will lead to some extra activities. It all started when LAFC and Glesnes went sliding in for a ball and Glesnes connected on the follow through. Who else would be in the middle of this scrum by Olivier Mbaizo and Jose Martinez. This team welcomes a physical challenge and is one who will take it to you. The first half ended scoreless, but the Union looked almost as good as they did against Toronto in their previous match. The ugly head of issues in the final third reared its ugly head once again for the Union and even though they had chances, there were a good amount of missed opportunities as well.
The 2nd half was similar to the first. LAFC did come out with a little more energy and tried to push the pace, but Mbaizo was putting on a master class of a performance defensively. Making big stops and helping create plays. Andre Blake started with a huge save at the 66″ mark and had to come up big a few more times in a matter of minutes. Before Blake’s big saves, the Union had some of their own chances with one being called back for offsides after Gazdag tapped it in. It was a very marginal call that could have gone either way.
The Union did make their first substitutions at the 77′. Quinn Sullivan was subbed in for Uhre and Leon Flach for Jose Martinez. The Union had a great chance at the 81st minute that was deflected out but resulted in a VAR check! The VAR confirmed hand ball and Gazdag stepped up to take the PK and was able to convert. The entirety of Subaru Park exploded and the building was shaking. You could feel this coming from the fans all game! As the 5 extra minutes was announced, LAFC was able to get one back. This complicates things for the Union for the rest of the Semifinals as LAFC leads on away goals now.
What was a good performance by the Union tarnished by sloppy play and a lucky bounce for LAFC as they are going to have a week off to prepare for the 2nd leg of this matchup. That will be next Wednesday at 10pm Eastern in LA.