Union Secure Point at LAFC in MLS Game of the Week – Philly Sports

The Philadelphia Union is the best team in the Eastern Conference. They went to the best team in the west, LAFC, and played out a thrilling 2-2 draw. Although the result was good for Philly, they took the lead twice in the game but failed to keep it. Let’s look back at another instant classic involving The Union and LAFC.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych

Union Security Point

Union have now drawn three matches in a row and failed to win in their last four games. It’s a pattern that is currently developing for Union who have failed to hold the lead in those four matches. That being said, Philly still sits in first place in the Eastern Conference after 10 weeks of play.

1st half

This match was another where the two teams showcased very different styles. LAFC wanted to own the ball and force Union to scramble at the back with an interchangeable front three. Union wanted to pressure and hit LAFC on the counterattack when they committed too many forwards. For the first 10 minutes, it looked like LAFC would find the first goal, and then Philly’s game plan hit.

Julian Carranza collected the ball near midfield. He carried the ball forward beating two LAFC players and had a clear path to the 18-yard penalty area. He waited for Kai Wagner’s run, then played him a perfect ball. Wagner hit a ball for the first time which skirted its way to the back post where Gazdag was able to seize the opportunity for the opening goal. Union was leading 1-0 almost out of nowhere 10 minutes later, and Philly managed to stifle LAFC for the first 45 minutes.

2nd half

LAFC have been a second-half team all season so far, and in this game they proved they know how to produce goals to get back into the game. 10 minutes into the second half, LAFC had the ball just outside the Union penalty area. They were allowed to play easy one-touch passes in a triangle to dissect the Union back line. Blake was left dry and Opoku tied the match at one. As the game developed further and later, Union found opportunities for counter-attacks.

One of those counters saw Wagner, second-half substitute Santos and Gazdag all combine to get the ball close to the LAFC box. Gazdag looked up and found Carranza between two LAFC defenders. He fed the ball to the striker who held off a defender and fired a perfect shot past Maxime Crepeau to give the Union a 2-1 lead with just 20 minutes remaining. All Philly had to do now was keep their defense high and look to pounce when a counter-attacking opportunity presented itself.

It looked like Philly was going to be in a position to pull off a 2-1 victory, but a combination of missed chances on break-attacks and not earning a crucial second ball in a late-game defensive situation allowed LAFC to get an equalizer. Franco Escobar managed to bounce back after a huge save from Blake from a corner. The match ended 2-2, with both teams declaring they were the better team in post-match talks.

Three takeaways

This game was another instant classic and shows why both teams are at the top of their respective conferences. Union are in a tricky position where they are happy to get points on the road but have failed to get wins while ahead on the road. Here are three takeaways from the match as Union continue to navigate a turbulent May.

1. Gazdag and Carranza carry this team

The partnership and understanding between Daniel Gazdag and Julian Carranza is on another level for Philly right now. They scored both goals in this game and prove why they are number one. Gazdag has five goals and two assists, and Carranza has four goals and two assists. As they advance, so does the Union attack. They carry this team. Hopefully Uhre or another of the reserve strikers can also contribute to helping the team turn draws into wins.

2. Substitute forwards aren’t what this team needs

Speaking of reserve forwards. Burke and Santos show Union’s past struggles in the forward position. They both missed clear opportunities to earn victory at LAFC. Burke missed a wide open header and Santos failed to get through to a wide open Carranza for a tap-in. Both goals would have put Union ahead and almost assured a win. They will have to play a part this season and will have to do better when they step onto the pitch for Union to succeed.

3. Philly has lost runs in four straight games; always in first place

The Union have lost the lead in four consecutive games. They had chances to earn 12 points during that time and only took three. Admittedly, three of those four games were on the road, and all four were against very good teams in this league. The Union still hold the top spot, and as they navigate this turbulent part of their 2022 schedule, road draws and home wins will be enough to keep them at or near the top of the conference. However, fixing those mistakes and finishing games could take this team from the top five teams in the league to a team competing for a supporter shield.

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Doop on Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych

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