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Quinn Sullivan makes an impact in home opener draw



Photo by Carl Gulbish

With a little over a month until his 20th birthday, teenage homegrown product Quinn Sullivan made consistent impacts on both sides of the ball and registered a crucial assist during the Philadelphia Union’s home opening 2-2 draw against Eastern Conference foe Chicago Fire Saturday night in Chester.

Saturday night marked the second consecutive start for the young midfielder/winger for Philadelphia. Sullivan played 89 minutes down south in Costa Rica last week and made positive contributions offensively during that hard fought Concacaf Champions cup victory. Sullivan has started the 2024 campaign like a bat out of hell, and his impacts in the final third proved to be vital in both matches so far this season.

I think [Sullivan] was one of our best players tonight,” said Union Head Coach Jim Curtin post-game. 

Sullivan connected with fellow Union Academy graduate and starting right back Nathan Harriel all match. The young duo wreaked havoc for Chicago’s backline, ultimately forcing a second sub after an early Andrew Gutman injury from the Chicago technical staff to try and stifle their impacts.

“The understanding between them [Sullivan and Harriel] and the chance creation on that side was really, really dangerous,” said Curtin. “Overall, [Sullivan] was excellent tonight and Nathan was as well. That’s a good little partnership that we have.”

And it is hopefully a partnership the club continues to rely on. Both players have top-notch fitness levels and game-changing pace. They also seem to understand each others’ tendencies to a high degree. Chicago’s backline learned this the hard way Saturday night as both Harriel and Sullivan carved up the left side of Chicago’s defense a handful of times throughout the match, especially in the second half as Philadelphia regained their footing.

I think it’s important to affect the play and create goals,” said Sullivan after the match. “Nate and I have a really good connection on the right side. We do well to create two vs one actions and Nate makes really good runs when I’m driving inside in order to create that overload.”

The timing between the two was impressive and fun to watch at times. For stretches of the match Saturday, Union fans were left wondering who will step up and how will the offense find a breakthrough. Harriel and Sullivan provided that much needed spark.

The offensive spark came in the second half. Philadelphia shook off some tentative and reactionary play in the first half and started strong in the second.

“In the second half, I thought that we looked like ourselves again,” said Curtin. “We kept them pinned in and did a good job of creating chances. We showed a lot of character to get back in the game. The guys pushed to the end. We could’ve stolen it there at the end with Mikael [Uhre] at the back post on a different night. But overall, a point.”

Uhre will surely wish he had that late game chance back. He flailed a bit on a open chance on net from in close, his shot ultimately clanged off the post much to the chagrin of the home crowd. Chicago narrowly escaped with a point as a result of that near miss.

But Uhre did find the back of the net earlier in the contest, thanks to none other than Sullivan. Sullivan, registering his first assist of the MLS season and fourth career assist with Philadelphia, created the chance in the 55th minute. Harriel and Sullivan worked nicely together to create an overload on the right wing. Central midfielder Daniel Gazdag also drifted over to the right side of the pitch to create even more of a man advantage. Some very nice tic-tac-toe passing and a darting run forward from Sullivan created the entry into the box and the cross attempt to Uhre for the goal.

Sullivan also played a crucial role in creating the stoppage time equalizing goal that sent Subaru Park into a frenzied state. The Union remained dedicated to creating offense via the right wing even through the final moments of the match. Another overload created a chance for a darting run forward and a clean entry into the box. At times the ball and player movement on the right side of the pitch left Chicago completely lost.

In desperation mode, Philadelphia jammed five players in the box as the ball recycled along the right touchline to Sullivan. Sullivan flicked a cheeky ball into the box to Ale Bedoya, a late second half sub. Bedoya skillfully flicked the ball to an on running Jose Martinez whose first time cross found the head of Gazdag for the game-tying goal.

Sullivan will look to keep his spot in the lineup along the right side of the midfield diamond while finding ways to make his mark felt on upcoming matches. At least that is his main goal as stated post-match.

“It’s where I want to be. It’s where I want to play,” said Sullivan. “I had a really strong preseason. I just have to keep building and competing as long as I keep affecting the play.”

And how will Sullivan continue to learn those crucial on ball decision making skills, especially in late game moments? Simply by continuing to find those moments and executing.

“That comes with minutes. That comes with getting in those opportunities of when to shoot and when to pass. I got the assist today,” said Sullivan. “I know in Saprissa there was an opportunity where I maybe could have shot and maybe could have passed the ball. And maybe I didn’t make the right decision always today as well. But as long as I keep getting in those moments, I’ll continue to make the right decision like I did tonight with the assist to Mikael.”

Sullivan and the Union will be back in action again Tuesday night when they play host to Concacaf Champions Cup foe Deportivo Saprissa in the second leg of their first round match-up.


Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

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