The Philadelphia Union are headed back to the postseason in style.
Philly clinched a spot in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs with a comprehensive 5-1 victory over visiting Minnesota United on Saturday night, the third playoff appearance in team history and second in the last three years.
Cory Burke opened the scoring for the home side and was quickly joined on the scoresheet by Alejandro Bedoya and Fafa Picault, the latter of whom would have a brace by the time the first half was up. Though Darwin Quintero pulled one back for the visitors, Ilsinho capped the scoring for the Union late in the game.
After missing a golden opportunity five minutes in, Burke made amends in the 8th minute when he outmuscled Michael Boxall for a high, arcing pass from Borek Dockal and lashed a shot from outside the box underneath Bobby Shuttleworth.
Bedoya made it two less than 10 minutes later when he got his foot to redirect a low cross from Keegan Rosenberry at the near post. Rosenberry then played the provider again in the 23rd minute, this time playing a perfect through ball for Picault to run onto and fire home.
Though Minnesota had a few chances of their own – none better than a point-blank effort from Rasmus Schuller that was well-saved by Andre Blake – Picault would pile on the misery and complete his brace with a beautiful curling shot a minute prior to halftime.
The Loons regrouped at halftime and looked stronger out of the break. Quintero would pull one back with an excellent individual effort, aided by a give-and-go with Angelo Rodriguez, and nearly bagged another soon after from a free kick. But even as the Loons threatened to pull closer, the Union found a spark through substitute Ilsinho, who would eventually find Philly's fifth and ice the result with a blistering, dipping strike from distance.
- 8' – PHI – Cory Burke | Watch
- 17' – PHI – Alejandro Bedoya | Watch
- 23' – PHI – Fafa Picault | Watch
- 44' – PHI – Fafa Picault | Watch
- 54' – MIN – Darwin Quintero | Watch
- 79' – PHI – Ilsinho | Watch
- THE BIG PICTURE: The Union are in, the Loons are out. The result ensured a postseason return for Jim Curtin's men, while mathematically confirming what we long knew about Minnesota's playoff fate. Even better for the Union, the result vaulted them two points above Columbus and into fourth place. If they are are able to hold onto that spot in the standings, that would guarantee them a coveted home playoff game.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The Union's third goal was the one that truly broke Minnesota's back, coming just at the halfway mark of the first half. The goal effectively put the Loons in a hole they had little chance of digging out of, while the through ball from Rosenberry, a right back, was one any No. 10 would have been proud of.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: The two-goal man Fafa Picault presented a threat throughout the 90 minutes and produced a pair of cool finishes. Borek Dockal and Keegan Rosenberry also had terrific games from the start, while Ilsinho provided a huge spark off the bench when Minnesota was pushing to get back into the game.