CHESTER, Pa. — It took Kacper Przybylko less than three minutes to put his money where his mouth was in Saturday night’s marquee contest against Western Conference winners LAFC.
Using his head to convert a goal for just the second time this season, the Philadelphia Union forward redirected a chipped Fafa Picault cross beyond Tyler Miller’s reach to get the party at a sold-out Talen Energy Stadium started early.
It was the former Polish youth international’s 14th goal of the season, which leads the Union and pulls him to within two of CJ Sapong’s franchise-best mark, set two seasons ago.
The noise after his goal was about as loud as the buildup to the anticipated game, courtesy of Przybylko’s mouth.
Following a 3-1 Week 26 win over Atlanta United, Przybylko wished LAFC “a lot of luck” trying to beat them in “our house.”
“I know I said what I said before the game, but it’s not that I didn’t respect [LAFC],” Przybylko said. “I respect every team in this league. They’re playing a great season, but it’s nice to see that after this great test that we are on the same level with them and it’s just important just to continue like this, prepare for the next game, and stay as high as we can to have a great position for the players.”
GOAL: Kacper Przybylko beautifully lofted header gives Philadelphia Union early lead
Przybylko’s goal, his fifth in his last six games, tied him with Heber and Chris Wondolowski for fifth in the league in goals this season. Signed last September, he didn’t make his MLS debut until April 20 after not making the gameday 18-man roster the first seven matches of the season.
For LAFC, Przybylko’s goal was an early wake-up call for a team that have now dropped points in four straight, posting their last win on August 21.
“As I said in the interview at halftime, it’s a terrible way to start,” coach Bob Bradley said. “When you come in and you have a big game and you know the other team is looking at it as a major test, that’s just impossible to start the game that way. But I liked the push that we had.”
Brenden Aaronson had a bid for a goal in the 23rd minute that would have doubled the Union’s lead, but his shot was denied by Miller.
LAFC equalized in the 43rd minute when a ball deflected off the crossbar right to the feet of Carlos Vela, who was able to bundle the ball across the line through traffic and draw within three of Josef Martinez’s record for most goals in a season (31), set last year.
Przybylko wasn’t involved in the hunt for a late winner after subbing off with cramps in the 75th minute. It was the first time the 26-year-old left the field since May 11.
“It was just unlucky, because we did a great job,” Przybylko said. “It’s great to see that we are on par with LAFC.”