The Philadelphia Union became the first MLS team to book their spot in the 2023 Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals Tuesday night, trouncing Alianza FC of El Salvador 4-0 at Subaru Park after playing to a scoreless draw in last week's Round-of-16 first leg.
Damion Lowe, Dániel Gazdag and Andrés Perea (brace) scored the all-important qualifying goals for the 2021 CCL semifinalists, who will now meet Liga MX's Atlas in the next round.
The Union dominated from the opening whistle, outshooting Alianza 8-1 in the first half alone. The visitors resisted as well as they could until Alexis Renderos saw his second yellow card in the 40th minute and left the Salvadorian side with 10 men.
Lowe took full advantage in first-half stoppage time, beating goalkeeper Mario González to Kai Wagner's corner kick and heading home his first goal for Philadelphia. Gazdag added his name to the scoreboard in the 62nd minute from the penalty spot, after a clear handball from William Canales.
From that point on, Alianza were dead in the water. Second-half substitute Perea was all too happy to make the most of it, scoring a three-minute brace (81', 84') that put the finishing touches on a brilliant Union performance.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Philadelphia didn't just advance, they did so with ruthlessness. It's a good sign for a club that's made CCL a priority this season. And, as 2022 MLS Cup runners-up, it gives them a boost after two straight lackluster performances – by their standards, at least – in the league.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: As much as they dominated, the Union were unable to break Alianza's defensive block throughout most of the first half. That all changed once their opponent went down a man after Renderos received his second yellow card.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Acquired in the offseason to provide defensive depth, Lowe did that and then some Tuesday night. The Jamaican international opened his personal account with the Union while pairing seamlessly with Jakob Glesnes at center back to help backup goalie Joe Bendik (replacing the injured Andre Blake) keep a clean sheet.
- PHI: Saturday, March 18 at CF Montréal | 7:30 pm ET (MLS Season Pass) | MLS regular season
- ALZ: Sunday, March 19 vs. Santa Tecla | 5:15 pm ET | Salvadoran Primera Division