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Union escape unscathed in first leg scoreless draw with CF Pachucha



Photo by Jack Verdeur

A lackluster home performance ended in a 0-0 draw for Philadelphia Union against Liga MX opponent CF Pachucha on Tuesday night. Ultimately, the main positive is that Philadelphia avoided a crucial goal against. An away goal at Pachucha in the second leg could prove to be the pivotal deciding factor.

But Philadelphia likely preferred to capitalize on their home advantage. The little chances they did create were not converted and the match ended scoreless.

Head Coach Jim Curtin decided to start right-back Nathan Harriel at the center back position along with Jakob Glesnes with both Jack Elliott (red in last match) and Damion Lowe (second yellow in last match) serving suspensions. Alejandro Bedoya returned to the starting lineup in his usual right midfield spot and the armband. And most notably, goalkeeper Andre Blake was fit and healthy for his long-awaited return to action.

Blake’s return was largely uneventful, registering 3 total saves. Pachuca registered 18 total shots, but only 3 of those efforts landed on frame and forced a save. Conversely, Philadelphia mustered just 5 shots, 3 of which made it on frame. Philadelphia’s defense did well once again to throw bodies in front of shots. They blocked 6 of Pachuca’s shots as a collective unit.

Tuesday night’s showdown was largely a tactical battle. Pachuca created havoc on the counter-attack thanks to their quickness and agility in the midfield. The Mexican side were quicker to 50/50 balls and were a step ahead in transition moments all match long.

Pachuca created a handful of dangerous offensive breaks with odd-man rushes. Philadelphia created some offensive success by switching the field a few times. Neither club cashed in on their chances though.

Union striker Mikael Uhre was on the receiving end of a few of Philadelphia’s strongest chances at goal. However, the 29-year-old Danish forward was not up to task again tonight.

Uhre’s first goal scoring opportunity occurred just 7 minutes into the action. His close-range shot was denied by Pachuca’s onrushing keeper. The action was solid to create the chance, but Uhre could not find a way to thread his shot by the keeper.

Pachuca responded with a few close chances of their own in the 19th and 25th minutes. Both Pachuca chances forced a collective catching of breath from the Union fans in attendance but ultimately no goals resulted.

Then there was a bit of Concacaf chaos the close out the half. Of course, it was only a matter of time before things got Concacaf-y.

Initially, a PK was awarded to Pachucha in the final moments of the first half due to a handball in the box by Harriel. Harriel was then shown a yellow card. However, after a prolonged VAR review, an errant handball by Pachuca was spotted in the build-up of the play which then negated the PK call and yellow to Harriel. The halftime whistle blew moments later.

Despite the lack of offense, the clean sheet in the first half of the match was the first time Philadelphia blanked an opposition for 45 straight minutes in 2024.

The second half was more of the same, both teams threatened but no final goal moment occurred.

Philadelphia at times were hanging on by their fingernails to a 0-0 result. Central midfielder Daniel Gazdag was inches away from scoring the coveted goal ahead goal in the 76th minute. Gazdag attempted a cheeky chip shot that sailed over the bar thanks to Quinn Sullivan’s attack down the right wing. It’s surely a moment Gazdag will like to have back.

Overall, Philadelphia may have been fortunate to escape with a point and no goals against. Away goals are crucial in this competition and to survive with a clean sheet draw after being outshot 15-5, it is a result worth taking. Pachuca showcased some dynamic offensive and transition play. At times they almost broke the Union’s backline, but they managed to survive unscathed.

Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

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