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Union clinch Concacaf Champions Cup spot, defeat rotated CF Monterrey squad 3-0



Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union bounced back Saturday night in Chester, PA with a dominant 3-0 win to secure a third place finish in the 2023 Leagues Cup competition. With the win, Philadelphia managed to squeeze themselves into the Concacaf Champions Cup competition.

First half goals from Jesus Bueno and Mikael Uhre helped set the tone against a heavily rotated Monterrey squad. Union head coach Jim Curtin wisely decided to switch formations back to the 4-4-2 and with it came a sense of calm and comfort on the ball from Philadelphia.

The scoring started immediately after the opening whistle thanks to midfielder Jesus Bueno and his goal in the first 33 seconds of the match. Bueno found himself in the perfect spot inside the six-yard box to finish a rebound off a Daniel Gazdag shot. Uhre’s service to Gazdag created the chance and Bueno was there to tap in Gazdag’s effort that clanged off the near post.

Bueno tallied his second Leagues Cup goal and with it he made a statement that maybe he should be considered as worthy of the Leagues Cup Best XI following the midseason competition’s conclusion.

Following Bueno’s early goal, Monterrey struggled to regain their footing. Monterrey entered the match with 11 total changes, taking full advantage of already solidifying their place in the next Concacaf Champions Cup by allowing key players to rest for the evening. The lineup also contained four Monterrey Academy players – some of which were wearing triple digit jersey numbers (Fimbres rocked 204, Ortega sported 188, Lopez with 210, and Avila with 207 as an example).

The youth and inexperience on the Liga MX side was evident and Philadelphia capitalized all match long.

Monterrey created just four chances in the opening 45 minutes, only one of which forced a save from Philadelphia keeper Andre Blake. Blake, coming off one of his worst performances in recent memory following the loss at home to Inter Miami, was solid in net once again registering one save on the match. That lone save came in the 18th minute. It would be Monterrey’s only shot on target for the evening.

Philadelphia doubled their lead just before the halftime whistle. And perhaps nobody needed a goal more than the goal scorer Mikael Uhre.

Uhre was the recipient of the best pass of the match, a perfectly weighted through ball off the cultured left foot of Union Academy product Jack McGlynn. McGlynn, who has become well known for his ability to pick his head up and fire world-class passes forward, found Uhre sprinting in behind for the goal before half. Uhre’s sense of relief was clearly evident once the ball hit the back of the net as he celebrated with his teammates.

The second half brought more of the same offensive dominance from Philadelphia. Monterrey made two halftime swaps, Carballo on for Fimbres and Romo on for Gonzalez. However, the changes made little impact on the proceedings as Monterrey generated just one chance in the first 25 minutes of the second half.

Philadelphia however continued to thrive. After a flurry of whistles and stop and start action during the first 15-20 minutes of the half, Curtin turned to the bench. Ale Bedoya entered for Bueno who received a generous ovation from the hometown crowd for his efforts. Chris Donovan entered for Quinn Sullivan as well. Both subs occurred in the 65th minute.

Bedoya needed just four minutes to make an impact, scoring a right footed shot from inside the box in the 69th minute to fully secure the win. It was a classic Bedoya goal as he found himself in perfect position on the far post as he cleaned up a rebounded effort following a recycled corner kick attempt.

The positives continued in the 90th minute when the newly added Israeli international Tai Baribo made his Philadelphia debut. Though it lasted only seconds since head referee Juan Calderon was not interested in second half stoppage time.

Following the worst home loss in five years, Philadelphia managed to play positively and assertively all night Saturday on their way to an easy win to earn a coveted spot in the Concacaf Champions Cup competition.

A return to the traditional 4-4-2 formation allowed Philadelphia to play a bit more freely than we’ve seen recently. A goal in the opening minute of the match surely helps, but perhaps the 4-4-2 needs to remain a more steady fixture for Curtin’s group as they resume regular season play next week.

The Union sit in third place in the Eastern Conference table, 11 points shy of first place FC Cincinnati. They travel to DC United August 26th and then to Toronto FC on August 30th. With just 11 MLS matches left, Philadelphia will hope to catch a hot streak and finish the 2023 campaign on a high note before preparing for another potential deep playoff run.


Copyright © 2023 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

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