Julián Carranza keeps "getting better and better" for Philadelphia Union


Julián Carranza continued his torrid run of form Saturday night, scoring twice to lift Philadelphia Union past CF Montréal, 3-0, at Subaru Park.

The Argentine striker’s first goal of the night was a thing of beauty. Carranza beat his defender at the top of the box before curling an inch-perfect effort just inside the far post past sprawling Montréal goalkeeper James Pantemis.

It’s that type of goal that has many wondering just how long the 23-year-old will remain with Philadelphia, including the Union manager himself.

“He’s getting better and better. It’s always a dangerous thing because you know what happens next,” Jim Curtin told reporters after the match. “He's a striker that can score. He's a striker that presses, so if you're a team that likes to press he's a dream for a coach.

“And again, he has that South American kind of savviness in front of goal where he has a knack for running hard in the box. He's not afraid to put his body on the line to get a goal. So really proud of the season Julián's had, it gets better and better."

Carranza, who is making a strong case to secure a spot at the 2023 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. next month, has now reached nine goals and three assists this season, for a total of 23g/12a since the start of 2022. He's one goal off the Golden Boot presented by Audi pace set by Nashville SC's Hany Mukhtar and LAFC's Dénis Bouanga (10 goals apiece).

But even when he isn’t scoring, Carranza is still making himself noticeable and making a difference. In addition to his brace, he finished with three recoveries, two interceptions, a tackle won and was involved in a game-high 20 duels – something Curtin was sure to highlight after the match.

“The best strikers in the world are ruthless, and I think Julián has that. I guarantee if you asked every center back that he banged into tonight they feel him, you know what I mean? He's very, very physical. The way he pressed, and defensively, the amount of tackles that he wins. The work rate. He was relentless for the 90 minutes,” said Curtin.

Sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference – a point back of second-place Nashville SC – the victory extends the Union’s unbeaten run to nine games (7W-0L-2D). Philadelphia are proving they’re still capable of being the team that came within a whisker of winning MLS Cup last season.

“There’s still a lot to play for, a lot of season left, but we’re in a good spot and it’s the same group of guys. We’re still really, really good,” said Curtin. “It’s a solid group and I’ll go to battle with them any day of the week.”