The Philadelphia Union hosted Charlotte FC in their first-ever match against each other in Charlotte’s inaugural MLS season. The Union was coming into the match at the top of the eastern conference and still without a loss. Charlotte on the other hand was on a two-game winning streak looking to extend it to three.
The Union would end up sticking with their typical 4-4-2 diamond formation. They would have to play the match without their caption Alejandro Bedoya as he was suffering soreness in training. Instead, they had the youngster Quinn Sullivan in for him who was just out with the USMNT U20 team during the international break just like many other players on the team (even senior national team players) were too which made training the past two weeks very difficult coming into the match. Let’s see how the Union beat Charlotte FC.
Union Start Off Strong
The Union would start the game very strongly and keep pressure on the new Charlotte FC squad. Julian Carranza would end up scoring a goal within the first three minutes of the game. The whole play started when Kai Wagner would just absolutely lift the ball down to the other side of the field. This was to a sprinting Sergio Santos who would set up Carranza with the opening goal. This would be Carranza’s first goal playing for the Union. Jose Martinez would then pick up a yellow card for a nasty foul he committed on Charlotte’s Sergio Ruiz.
For the rest of the first half the Union would keep looking good and keep up their attacking pressure. It felt like they were in control ever since the first goal that was scored. But closing out the half, the Union found themselves splitting possession with Charlotte at 50%. The big difference was the fact that the Union was able to get three shots off. All three of them were on goal. Going into halftime the Union were up 1-0
Continuing the Strong Start
Building off their constant pressure and a strong start in the first half, the Union was able to score a minute into the second half. Daniel Gazdag would score a goal from a horrible mistake from Charlotte’s goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina. Kahlina tried to pass the ball up but instead landed at the feet of Gazdag. Heo put it into the back of the net making the game now 2-0. Gazdag would now have a goal in four straight games to start the season. Last season he had four goals in twenty-three games.
The Union would keep up their attacking pressure throughout the game even when Carranza and Santos would be taken off in the sixty-sixth minute for Corey Burke and Mikael Uhre. With the two fresh strikers upfront, the Union was able to keep up with their constant pressure. The Union force goal chances one that Mikael Uhre wished he had as he beat Charlotte’s defense but ran out of room from the keeper’s play. Jack McGlynn would then be the next sub for the Union coming in replacing Sullivan in the eighty-first minute. The Union would then make one more sub move by taking out goal scorer Gazdag. Paxton Aaronson would then receive a yellow card within a minute he entered the pitch.
Even with the Union’s constant pressure on the ball, they were only able to control 41% of possession for the whole game. But the biggest bright spots were the nine shots with six of them on target and the fact that Andre Blake seemed to have a relatively easy day with one save and a clean sheet for the night
What’s Next for the Union?
The Union beat Charlotte FC. With this win, the Union stays in first place of the eastern conference (and tied with LAFC for the best record in the MLS) with a 4-1-0 record and stays undefeated so far for the 2022 season. The team is also continuing the trend as the best start for a season in franchise history. The Union plays next week as they will host the fifth-place Columbus Crew at Subaru Park on April 9th.
Eric Williamson is the host of the Union podcast Full Time Philly and also contrinutes to many of the Union coverage. He is a huge fan of all the 4 major Philly teams on top of music too.