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Philadelphia Union earn improbable 3-1 road win against Portland Timber



Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union

Outmanned and outgunned, the Philadelphia Union defeated the Portland Timbers 3-1 on the road for their first MLS win of the 2024 campaign. Despite only having three players on the bench, goals from Julian Carranza and Quinn Sullivan proved to be the difference. Despite a late push from Portland, which resulted in a lone goal from Jonathan Rodriguez, the Timbers were unable to defend their own stadium.

The Union were missing several players due to international duty, including starters midfielder Daniel Gazdag, midfielder Jack McGlynn, goalkeeper Andre Blake, and center back Damion Lowe. In their places, head coach Jim Curtin started midfielder Jeremy Rafanello, midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, goalkeeper Oliver Semmle, and center back Jack Elliott.

Portland took some time to create any momentum but found its first chance of the evening in the eighth minute, when the entire Portland attack rushed forward in a counter-attack, though Kai Wagner was able to get a head to the ball in the penalty area and cleared the ball away from danger.

The Timbers continued to press with some danger through the 15th minute, highlighted by a chance in the 11th minute in which a cross from Rodriguez found the foot of Santiago Moreno, though Moreno wasn’t able to provide his touch any direction and the attempt bounced harmlessly away from goal.

The Union finally notched a goal in the 20th minute, as Wagner’s corner kick found the head of Carranza, who froze Portland’s James Pantemis in goal as the ball sailed into the corner of the net for the game’s first goal.

The Union gained some momentum after Carranza’s goal, but Portland still led the way through the end of the half. In the dying moments of stoppage time, Portland found two chances on goal, one of which was stopped by a diving Semmle and the other which narrowly missed the right post.

The Union and Portland both struggled to generate much momentum at the start of the season half, though the Union found a hero in Sullivan in the 60th minute. After a deep strike from Jeremy Rafanello rebounded off Pantemis, Sullivan blitzed through the Timbers’ box to secure the Union’s second goal of the evening.

The Union took over the game’s momentum after Sullivan’s goal, and Carranza earned his brace in the 67th minute, seemingly sealing the game.

In desperation, Portland attacked the Union’s goal without fear in the final 15 minutes of the match. Oliver Semmle and his backline stood tall, though the Timbers did find their goal in the 80th minute. Similar to Carranza’s first, Rodriguez’s header near the goal found the back of the net and stumped Semmle as Portland seemed reenergized for a comeback at home.

Portland wasn’t able to find their last goal, however, despite plenty of chances, the Union held strong, even creating some danger of their own at times, though never with any true attacking prowess. Rodriguez made one last attempt on goal as stoppage time ticked toward the eighth minute, but Semmle again denied the attempt. Through nine minutes of stoppage time to secure a rare and unlikely victory.

The Union will return to action at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, when they face Minnesota United on their home turf. The match will air on Apple TV with MLS Season Pass.

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 (

Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

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