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Four things we learned from the Union’s win over Alianza



Photo by Carl Gulbish

The Philadelphia Union is moving on.

After a 4-0 win at home against Alianza in the second leg of the first round of the Concacaf Champions League, the Union will go on to face Atlas in the second round. But, before we look to the future, let’s look to the past, and break down the Union’s second leg against Alianza.

1.) The depth is panning out.

A 4-0 win with healthy rotation is a nice feeling.

Despite rotating five players from his typical lineup, Jim Curtin put a good squad on the pitch against Alianza on Tuesday night. Most importantly, the players that he signed specifically for depth this season played a massive role. Damion Lowe’s header opened the scoring on the night, and a brace from Andrés Perea put the game well out of Alianza’s reach.

Curtin and Ernst Tanner have put together what seems to be a solid plan for the season, and right now, it’s all coming together.

2.) FOX Sports, excuse my French, is terrible.

This isn’t a Union takeaway, but I do want to complain about FOX Sports briefly. While I have access to YouTube TV, I was kicked off the match at the beginning of the second half. The idea that a Champions League game (especially one still in contention) is still relegated to FOX Soccer Plus is ridiculous. The positive side is that with fewer games ahead in CCL, this shouldn’t happen again for Union fans.

3.) Kai Wagner is a machine.

With five games played in all competitions this season, Kai Wagner is the now only player on the Union to play all 450 minutes plus stoppage time. There is some concern that Wagner is going to get overworked from this level of play, but thus far, he seems to be thriving. FotMob is not gospel, but he was the highest-rated player on the pitch on Tuesday night, notching one assist, six chances created, and nine recoveries.

At some point, Curtin will throw Matt Real into the formation (I personally think that a five-man backline would be perfect for Real), but that has yet to happen. Until then, Wagner will likely continue to step up and show Leeds United what it’s missing.

4.) Rotation, rotation, rotation.

Less than a week before the Union’s second match against Alianza, Curtin floated the idea of mixing up the lineup, including his striker pairings at the top.

On Tuesday night, he did just that. Curtin showed that his players are a cohesive group, at least in CCL. Joaquin Torres and Julian Carranza were a strong pairing at forward, and Daniel Gazdag looked the most comfortable that he has all season. All in all, this is a Union team that will be able to hit opponents with plenty of formations, one of the most dangerous traits it can have.

Joe is a junior at Penn State studying journalism and sports studies, among other things. He's covered the Union since 2017 and has written for Brotherly Game / Philadelphia Soccer Now since 2019. He seeks to answer life's greatest questions, such as, "How did I get here?" and "Where is that large automobile?" You can find Joe on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email (

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